In pictures: British holiday habits through the decades

There's no doubt that British tourists' holiday habits have changed a great deal over the last century.

A combination of factors, including economic shifts, technological advances and cultural revolutions have transformed the way we travel and the destinations we visit, making holidays in 2016 a luxury compared to in the 1920s.

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Innovation and increased competition have played a huge role in making holidays abroad more accessible. And with 70 per cent of Britons now taking up to three international holidays a year the desire to travel shows no signs of slowing down.

With the help of Travelzoo, we thought we'd take a look back at how holidays have changed over the decades.

From post-war staycations at UK beach resorts to all-inclusive holidays in Europe taking off, see how travel today compares to a century ago.

Looking ahead, the possibilities are exciting and endless, with space travel and revolutionary flights across the world and futuristic hotels on the cards.

"We are already seeing aviation developments that could make supersonic flights a reality for the masses and robots being used in the hospitality industry to improve the customer experience," says Louise Hodges at Travelzoo.

Browse photos of holidays through the decades and leave a comment to give us your predictions for the future of travel below.

Holidays through the decades
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Holidays through the decades

Behaviour: Brits opted for short holidays and day trips close to home.

Why? Affordable travel was limited to trains, buses and trams, and paid-holiday days from work were few or non-existent. As a result, Brits opted to take short breaks in local, family-owned B&Bs, either along the British coast or in the depths of the countryside.

Behaviour: Luxury cruise liners became available to the elite and destinations such as the French Riviera became popular for British tourists.

Why? P&O launched the first tourist-class cruises in the early 1930s. Following this, Pacific cruises and voyages to and from Australia became available allowing Brits, for the first time, to travel to the other side of the world.

Behaviour: The Channel Islands and UK beach resorts saw increased tourism following the war.

Why? Brits became reluctant to travel abroad in the post-war era and steps were taken to rebuild the country and position the Channel Islands as holiday resorts for those living in mainland UK.

Behaviour: Air travel became possible and more accessible to the upper classes. In fact in the 1950s, you could expect to pay 40% more for the same air ticket you would buy today (taking into account inflation).

Why? The transatlantic route became the world's most-travelled air route and the De Havilland Comet became the world's first commercial jet airliner.

Elite: Large tour operators such as Thomson were founded, making package holidays possible for wealthy Brits.

Masses: As cars became a more common mode of transport, caravan and camping holidays became increasingly popular for the less affluent.

Behaviour: All-inclusive holidays became the new norm – Europe remained the preferred destination for the masses, while the trend of gap-year travel to Afghanistan and exotic regions emerged among the more adventurous.

Why?: The rise in the number of tour operators meant Brits were able to swap the Channel Islands for the Costas, where a fortnight all-inclusive in Benidorm would be a similar price to a local trip.

Behaviour: Brits started to visit in their masses - and put on the map - what are now considered mainstream travel destinations (i.e. Spain, Italy).

Why?: By the 1980s most people had at least four weeks’ annual holiday by law and new transport links to Europe made holiday destinations more accessible. The InterRail pass played a huge role in opening up new destinations to travellers, with many Britons opting to travel for weeks at a time.

Behaviour: British tourists started to visit destinations outside of Europe (such as Turkey) and became more adventurous with travel - visiting multiple destinations and countries in a single trip.

Why?: In 1990 the EU Package Travel Directive was introduced, offering protection to travellers on packages - in case of tour-operator or airline failure.

Behaviour: British travellers started backpacking around Europe and long-haul destinations in Asia; these trips often lasted for months at a time.

Why? Low-cost airlines and hostels became accessible in many parts of the world, as the internet helped open up new destinations and offered tourists new ways of booking holidays.

Behaviour: Brits started taking multiple mini breaks and long weekends in Europe.

Why? The launch of online travel deal websites increased competition and forced down prices, making weekends away and short city breaks abroad more affordable.

Behaviour: Brits started to believe commercial space travel was possible.

Why? That belief suffered a setback following a crash in 2014 and concerns that Sir Richard Branson’s dream of commercial space tourism could have ended.

Behaviour: Long-haul destinations such as Canada, South Africa and the Seychelles became more popular for winter-sun getaways.

Why? The combined factors of higher disposable income, unreliable weather in Europe, terror attacks in short- and mid-haul tourist hotspots, and cheaper long-haul travel meant Brits were willing to pay a little extra for guaranteed winter sun - and the same was visible in summer 2016.


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