You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

UK households spend £37bn going on holiday every year

Posted on 28 July 2015

  • 71% of UK households took at least one holiday in the past year
  • 50% of households in South East take at least two holidays a year
  • Happy people take twice as many holidays as unhappy people

We spend a combined total of more than £37bn* going on an average of 2.4 holidays each year, according to leading financial services provider SunLife.

The study, which asked more than 3,000 adults about their holiday habits found that almost three quarters (71%) of UK households go away at least once a year, with almost half (45%) going away twice or more.#

Of those who take at least two, a quarter (24%) take three, 14% take four and a fifth (19.3%) take five or more – this includes a lucky 2.5% who admit to taking 10 holidays every year!

Get away

Scotland, London and the South East have the biggest percentage of households that take a holiday with 74% going on at least one break a year. The area with the least households taking a break is East Anglia, where less than two thirds (64%) take an annual vacation.

The most common number of holidays taken by UK households is one, with 25 per cent saying they take just one break a year compared to 19% who take two and 10% who take three, however, almost half (45%) of those who do holiday take two or more.

While the region that goes on the highest average number of holidays is Wales (2.79), in the South East, where the overall average is slightly lower (2.4), more than half (51%) go away at least twice.

Travel money

The average spent by each household on holidays is £1,951, but this varies quite dramatically between regions. The biggest spenders are Northern Ireland, where on average households spend £3,219 on holidays every year. This is £1,268 more than the UK average, and more than double the annual holiday spend by households in the East Midlands, who spend the least – £1,473 a year. After Northern Ireland, the region that spends the most on holidays is the South East at £2,374, perhaps not too surprising when you consider more households in the area go on two holidays (26% ) than one (23% ).

Holidaying with kids

On average, households with children are more likely to go on holidays than those without – 72% compared to 69% - and will spend more money on holidays – those with children spend £2,185 on average, while those households without children spend £1,685 on average.

Households with older children tend to go on fewer holidays than those with younger kids. Households with children aged 11 – 16 go on fewer holidays per year than those households where all the children are under 11, but only 67% of families with all kids under 11 go on holiday compared to 72% of families with all kids 11 – 16.

Couples aged 55 and over with no children, take between three and four holidays a year on average, with an annual spend of £2,942. This is in contrast to younger couples (aged 18-24) with no children, who take between two and three holidays per year and spend much less at £1,272.

Happy holidays

SunLife’s research also found that holidays have a very strong correlation with wellbeing and happiness; those who were happy or satisfied with life take two holidays each year compared to one for those who were unhappy or dissatisfied.

Those who say they are more optimistic about the future take double the number of holidays (two compared to one) than those who are pessimistic and 79% of those who have savings take at least one holiday per year compared to only 47% who have no savings.

Ian Atkinson, Head of Brand at SunLife comments: “The link between happiness and taking holidays is really strong – showing that taking a break doesn’t just make you happier for that period, it makes you happier overall. Per household, we spend an average of £38 a week on holidays, so it’s worth looking at putting that aside, seeing what a powerful affect holidays have on our wellbeing. Personally, I will be moving to Wales, since they apparently take the most holidays every year!”


*26.7 million households, Family and Household, ONS, 2014, 71% going on holiday, at an average of £1951,. 26.7 million x 71% x 1951 = £37bn