From pith helmets and large moustaches to knotted handkerchiefs and rolled-up trousers - and now kaftans and Birkenstocks - the Brit abroad has come a long way since the 1840s.To mark 165 years since Thomas Cook’s first organised trip, a rail journey from
Leicester to Loughborough on July 5 1841, Thomas Cook has traced the development of
the typical Brit abroad through the ages.
A snapshot study of package holidays over years reveals that, far from being the
stereotypical boors abroad, British travellers tastes have become increasingly
sophisticated. In addition, holidays are more accessible to Britons than ever.
Thomas Cook figures show the typical summer holiday costs around 40 per cent less
now than it did in the 1970s. Today’s holidaymaker spends an average of around four
and a half per cent of their annual income on holiday, as opposed to nearly eight
per cent in the 1970s. In the 1850s Thomas Cook’s first overseas holiday cost
passengers £8 - but back then even £50 per annum was a princely salary so many
people were spending well over 16 per cent of their earnings on travel.
The research shows that the ‘Noughties’ holidaymaker wears designer sunglasses,
kaftans and Birkenstocks, eats local cuisine, enjoys watersports and pampering, and
brings home local wines and jewellery as souvenirs.
All a world away from the flat cap-wearing tourist of the Fifties, with a penchant
for omelettes and evening dances, and an eye for a book of postcards to take home.
And it’s certainly a marked improvement from the fluorescently-attired holidaymaker
of the Eighties, who favoured Bermuda shorts, burger and chips, a spot of Bingo and
brought home Ouzo and resort-themed lighters.
Yet, despite the wealth of resorts on offer to holidaymakers, one detail remains the
same: the reign of Spain just doesn’t seem to wane. Although France was our number
one destination in the Fifties and Sixties, the Costas and Balearic islands have
been the top summer holiday hotspot for Britons since the Seventies.
Manny Fontenla-Novoa, Thomas Cook’s CEO said: “We are incredibly proud of our
heritage. When Thomas Cook first started offering travel in 1841 he would never have
believed that all these years on his name would appear on hundreds of stores,
aircraft and in holiday resorts all over the world. He would be delighted to see
that he enabled millions of Britons to enjoy quality holidays around the globe. And
how those holidaymakers have changed! Our archive pictures show how customers
clothes, habits, hobbies and preferences have changed over the years - it’s a
However, our evolution from package pioneers to tasteful tourists isn’t entirely
complete. According to the study the nation’s perennial love of a cheesy summer
tune is still alive and well. From Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Release Me” and Boney
M’s “Rivers of Babylon” to the more recent DJ Otzi’s “Hey Baby” and Axel F’s “Crazy
Frog”; the dancefloors of Europe continue to throb to dubious summer anthems decade