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UK adults spend an average of 51 days planning their holiday and over a third end up disappointed

Published: 22/05/2019   /   Updated: 20/07/2021

With many people set to jet away this weekend at the start of the half-term holiday, new research* has found that UK adults spend an average of 51 days planning their holiday (with women spending on average 15 days more time planning than men — 58 days vs 43 days).

The research, commissioned by tailor-made travel specialist Audley Travel, found it is not a stress-free experience for many people — with so much information available and many conflicting sources, it is often overwhelming and people find it difficult to know what to believe. One in nine people (12%) say they feel confused and overwhelmed when researching online and 14% say that planning a holiday themselves is too time-consuming. Nearly three in ten (29%) say that a frustration with planning a holiday themselves is that it takes a long time to decide between all the different destinations and 17% say fitting in everything they want to do is a struggle.

Often, all of the hard work planning doesn’t pay off, with over a third (36%) admitting to being disappointed with at least one holiday they arranged themselves (without any input from a travel agent or tour operator in person, on the phone or online). The main reasons cited being a hotel was not as expected (37%), the tourist spots were too busy (17%) and that the destination and things to see and do were not as expected (16%).

The research also looked at what makes a good holiday. For two thirds of people (66%), seeing and doing new things is essential. Over half (55%) cite trying local foods and 49% want to learn about the local culture. For nearly two fifths (38%), knowing all the logistics are taken care of is key and nearly a third (31%) want to find little-known sites away from the crowds.

Nick Longman, CEO of Audley Travel, says: “Time away with family or friends is so important for people to take a break from their busy lives – whether it’s a weekend camping, a city break or a long-haul trip. It’s therefore really disappointing that so many people end up unhappy with the trip they plan. We know how complicated it is to find the best places to go and the ideal time to visit them, as well as ensuring the reality of a hotel lives up to the reviews. We have teams working on this full time, so completely understand how time consuming it is for people to try to do this alongside everything else in their lives.

We want our clients to be confident that the trip they book with us has been recommended with their satisfaction in mind, and that our staff know the area well and can advise them on when to go, what to see and what to avoid. Therefore, we ensure our staff experience our excursions, stay in the hotels we offer and eat in the restaurants we recommend. This means we have the best and most up-to-date information to design trips that clients won’t be disappointed with, based on their tastes, budget and interests.

Audley’s own research**, conducted with clients who either booked or enquired with the operator, reinforces these findings. When researching trips, 76% of respondents said speaking to an expert was important or essential, with an additional 19% agreeing it was useful to have. A travel company’s website is deemed essential or important by 67%, and useful by another 26% and brochures are said to be essential or important by 55% and useful to a further 34%.

For more information on the trips Audley Travel arranges, visit

Notes to editors

*Research conducted on behalf of Audley Travel in April 2019, speaking to 2,000 people across the UK.

**Research conducted by Audley Travel in December 2017, which received 4,469 responses.