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New study reveals British holiday activity favourites

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Deciding what to do on holiday can be a real source of debate. With so many options to choose from, everyone has a different idea of what they want from their trips abroad. So we decided to survey our travel-mad customers to see which are the most popular holiday activities and what trends are emerging for 2023 holiday bookings.

The results are in! Overall, we found that 59% of travellers want active holiday experiences, with 41% preferring to fully switch off and relax by the pool. But the activities people are interested in varies greatly, and walking boots and kitchen aprons may join swimwear and sun cream in the holiday suitcase for 2023.

The survey also revealed that the cost of living crisis is having an impact, and holidaymakers are keener than ever to get value for money from their time away.

What activities shall I do on holiday?

How you spend your time on holiday is a very personal thing, but our survey revealed some clear trends among those who opt for activity-filled trips.

Hikes and long walks were the most popular holiday activity, with 46% of those surveyed enjoying getting out on foot. Water sports, including paddleboarding, kayaking and swimming, were also very popular, with 35% choosing to relax in or on the water as part of their trip.

Holiday activity preferences vary with age. Overall, 7% of travellers take part in extreme sports, such as bungee jumping and skydiving. However, among the 18-24 age group, this increased to almost a third (32%) who like to experience the thrill-seeking rush.

At the other end of the scale, 13% of those looking for activity-filled trips opt for wellness-related classes, such as yoga or meditation. This rose to 27% among 25-39 year olds.

  1. Hikes and long walks (46%)
  2. Shopping (39%)
  3. Water sports (35%)
  4. Food tasting and cookery classes (23%)
  5. Cycling (16%)
  6. Winter sports (14%)
  7. Yoga, meditation and wellness (13%)
  8. Scuba diving (10%)
  9. General sports (10%)
  10. Thrill-seeking extreme sports (7%)

Chris Rolland, InsureandGo CEO, comments:While we all face economic challenges this winter, our research throughout 2022 has underlined that overseas holidays remain very important to most people. Whilst many consider cutbacks on home improvements, put off car buying or milestone family parties – holidays are more resilient. People treasure a break from everyday life; for many, it’s essential to their mental health. What we see playing out in this research is for those that do plan a holiday, a large proportion want active, purposeful holidays – and are going for activities that will give them happy memories and justify the cost of going abroad in the first place.

Where can I find holiday activity inspiration?

A popular first port of call when planning holiday activities is social media. We asked which platforms each age group uses, either pre-holiday or to share their pictures and experiences afterwards, and found that TripAdvisor is most popular for holiday inspiration, with 1 in 3 (32%) holidaymakers of all ages turning to it for activity reviews and tips.

TikTok is paving the way for influencing holidaymakers now, too, with those under 25 using the platform for inspiration and sharing their trips and experiences; this age group is ten times more likely to use TikTok in this way than any other adult age group.

How is the cost of living changing our holiday plans and expectations?

The increasing cost of living may be playing on the minds of British holidaymakers and affecting the way we view our holidays, with more than half (56%) of travellers wanting to get more value for money and fit in lots of activities.

Those planning wellness-related activities are particularly conscious of how the cost of living affects them, with 68% saying that they now look to get the most value from their trips away. Others keen on maximising their holiday budget included those interested in extreme sports (64%), cookery classes (62%) and shopping trips (62%). 

The cost of living also seems to be having a more significant impact on the younger generation. More than two-thirds (70%) of those under 40 say they want to get more from their trips now than ever before. 2 in 3 young adults (under 25) specifically say they want to come back feeling like they’ve had fun and adventures.

How do holiday activities affect travel insurance?

While most travel insurers will have a list of sports and activities they cover as standard, extra insurance may need to be added to your policy for more unusual or extreme activities. Reassuringly, 98% of those surveyed were aware of this.

Among those interested in winter sports, 100% knew that they needed to add extra cover to their travel insurance before hitting the slopes.

Chris Rolland, InsureandGo CEO, comments on the study: Despite pressures in almost every aspect of daily life to cut costs, it is reassuring to note from our research that people opting for active holidays know they may need insurance for many of these activities. There is nothing worse than being injured abroad and having to pay out massive amounts of money for medical care because you’re not properly covered. Travel insurance can cover you for injuries during a holiday activity, no matter how minor or severe. It’s also worthwhile for our adventure seekers to consider adding valuables cover if they are bringing expensive gear or gadgets for their activities, to extend their cover to their equipment as well.

If you’re planning an action-packed and activity-filled break away, don’t forget your travel insurance! And, if you’re taking something expensive away with you (snorkelling equipment, hiking gear or gadgets) you can add extra valuables cover to your policy.

This nationally representative survey was conducted in August 2022 via InsureandGo’s customer base. The sample size is 2,095 adults aged 18-70+.