The Office of National Statistics published their latest social trends today.

In amongst the details about smoking, health and household expenditure is a little nugget.  In 1971, UK residents made 6.7 million holiday trips abroad.  In 2008, UK residents made 45.5 million holiday trips abroad.  Took me back to family holidays in the 1970s!!  We never made it abroad, although my parents holidayed round Europe in the 1950s before I came along and stopped their adventures!!  My holidays were more holiday camps on the South Coast – Isle of Wight, Sussex – we never traveled too far. 

I suppose it was slightly different for us – we used to holiday “overseas” in Jersey as that’s where Dad’s family was (and still is) – not as exotic as going somewhere properly “foreign” but at least the sun shone and the beaches are fabulous.

How times have changed!!  My kids are well-travelled, but not as much as some of their friends.   The increase in immigration has helped them understand about their friends’ parents’ homelands.  Its not uncommon for their friends to go on holiday to India, Nepal, Africa, the Caribbean or Eastern Europe to visit family.  Really helps them understand the multilayered nature of UK society.

We (as a holidaying nation) are now tending to travel further and further away from the UK.  Anyone who’s been in travel for 40 years or more will talk with misty eyes about the first holidaymakers they took to Majorca or Benidorm.  These are still popular holiday destinations – 40 years ago, we’d never have dreamt of going to Turkey on holiday.  The resorts of Marmaris et al were barely developed then (I’m not sure to be honest if anyone other than the Turks went there anyway then?). Certainly if you thought about Egypt for a holiday in the 70s, it would have been Cairo that you thought of – the hugely popular resorts along the Red Sea weren’t built then.  I thought about holidays to the Pyramids as being a bit like an Agatha Christie novel, something like “Death on the Nile” – very colonial in atmosphere!

Politics have played their part in helping us choose where to go on holiday since the 70s.  Eastern Europe is now popular for stag parties but before the Wall came down, never on anyone’s list of destinations – you simply couldn’t get there.  Franco was still around in Spain until 1975 and although Spain was probably the most popular destination for British holidaymakers from the early 1960s onwards – it’s after the mid 70s that it really developed into the country that holidaymakers know well now.  We honeymooned in Yugoslavia before the war out there and it was good – maybe a little dated, but in the mid80s we weren’t that experienced (as a couple) in exotic holidays – didn’t really have much to compare it to.  However their tourism business was hit hard by the war and its after-effects and is recovering well now.

So tell me about your 1970s holiday memories!!!

PS – did you know we can book all kinds of travel – by air, rail and sea!

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