The summer holidays are over and Brits will be sadly waving goodbye to bikinis, shorts and fancy cocktails on the beach. Now is a good time to take stock of just how UK holidaymakers like to unwind – and it's not surprise that alcohol is a key ingredient.
In a survey of 2,001 UK adults who had been on holiday in the last two years, 1,613 said they partook in alcoholic drinks during their vacation.
67% or respondents said they drank more than usual while on holiday, sometimes starting early in the morning. 28% (32% in men alone) said they couldn't imagine enjoying a holiday without alcohol.
The survey was conducted by Opinium Research for travel firm Kayak between 28 March and 3 April 2017.
The respondents provided several reasons for their booze intake: 60% said drinking helps them relax; 58% said drinking and holidays just go hand in hand; and 33% said drinking made their holiday more enjoyable.
The survey also found many holidaymakers changed their drinking habits while on vacation: 37% would give up their regular order to try local tipple; and 13% said they had a "special holiday drink" that they would only order while away from home.
On top of increasing alcohol intake, Brits we're a bit more relaxed about when to start quenching their thirst: 91% of people said they had at least one drink during the first 24 hours of their holiday; and 22% started before even boarding the plane.
However, drinking more has consequences. Respondents admitted their consumption had led them into all kinds of awkward or potentially dangerous situations: 10% said it led them to having sex; 7% hurt themselves; 6% forgot where their hotel was; another 6% went skinny dipping; 5% lost their personal belongings such as phones, room keys and wallets; and another 5% admitted they had, at some point, vomited on themselves.
Kayak pointed out that all-inclusive packages, where food and drinks are included in the holiday, makes it quite easy to order one drink after the other and get carried away.
Senior Lecturer at the University of West Scotland's Centre for Studies of Alcohol and Drugs, Dr Iain McPhee, spoke to IBTimesUK. He thinks it should come as no surprise that people drink more when on holidays: "It signals that it is time off the clock, me time, and represents time which should be enjoyed, beyond formal surveillance associated with work and employment." Given alcohol is marketed as a way to relax and have a good time, it also "signals that one is open to opportunities for enjoyment."
For McPhee, there's definitely a correlation between being away from everyday life and feeling free from judgement: "Few people can condemn or judge bad behaviour outside of where we live and work, then this is also why drinking to excess is attractive." Hence why Brits indulge in alcohol a bit more than they normally would.
He also points out that the issue goes deeper than just an occasional boozy holiday. A big part of how much Britons drink has to do with how they view alcohol to begin with. Dr McPhee explains that contrary to other cultures, British people are used to opportunistic and random drinking sessions where the point of drinking is to become intoxicated. It's what's usually called "binge-drinking."
In short, Britons tend to drink with the aim of getting drunk. And they drink more when they're away from home because they're free from any potential remarks or judgement. Because alcohol is marketed as a tool to enhance one's fun, British tourists on holiday feel they are vindicated to indulge