The advice aims to help prevent accidents and other incidents involving young Brits travelling abroad. FCO data shows that young people becoming separated from their fellow holiday makers is a common factor in very serious – sometimes fatal – incidents, like falls. While most young people’s trips abroad are trouble-free, 16-30 year olds make up the majority of victims of crime reported to the FCO and the largest proportion of arrests and detentions abroad in 2018.

New research is being released today to mark the launch of FCO’s new multi-year campaign to encourage young British tourists to ‘stick with your mates’. The research shows that the current trend towards young people spending their leisure time in more wholesome pursuits than previous generations plays out in how they say they like to spend their holidays. However, the figures also show that these good intentions don’t match up to the risks young Brits admit taking once they get to their destination.

Relaxing with friends is the top source of enjoyment for the majority of young travellers (73% named it in their top three activities) followed by experiencing new cultures (named by 62%). In contrast, just over a quarter (27%) said partying was the holiday activity they like most. However, once abroad, riskier behaviour is commonplace: 72% will walk home alone, 71% say they drink to excess and 43% will leave friends to go off with someone they don’t know.


The new figures also demonstrate what a transitional period the late teens and early 20s are when it comes to the types of holiday young people go on. Over three quarters of 16-19 year olds have recently been on holiday with their family (77%), compared to fewer than two thirds of 20-24-year-olds (63%).

Julia Longbottom, Director of Consular Services at the FCO, says: “We’re focussing on how to help young people stay safe when travelling abroad. Moving from holidaying with family members to going abroad with friends, girlfriends or boyfriends, is a big change, especially if it’s for the first time. It’s a watershed moment that can leave some young people vulnerable to accidents or crime. It’s also a good time to start practising holiday habits that will set them up for a lifetime of trouble-free trips.

“Simple actions like sticking with friends during a trip, looking out for each other and checking Travel Advice ahead of going abroad can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding trouble. Most holidays are incident-free but tragically we do see a number of fatalities and very serious injuries involving young people each year. These incidents can have a devastating impact on those involved and their families and friends.”

Their own personal safety, getting split up from friends and the safety of their belongings are among the biggest worries young people have about travelling (named top three fears by 41%, 21% and 21% respectively). FCO consular data shows that almost 5,000 passports were lost or stolen from young British people travelling abroad in 2018[vi]. But, despite it being a time when they’re starting to holiday less with their family, in a serious emergency contacting a parent is the most likely action a young person would opt for (reported by 65%) ahead of calling local police (51%).

The FCO has worked with young travellers to develop these top tips for staying safe abroad:

  1. Stick together – keep an eye out to make sure no one in your group gets separated from people they know and ends up alone as this can put them at risk
  2. Use tech – set up a WhatsApp or messenger group so you can easily keep track of where everyone is and let your friends know you’re ok
  3.  Check in – ‘checking in’ to your accommodation within a private group chat with your fellow holiday friends, for example on WhatsApp or a Facebook group, can help you find where you’re staying if you get lost or separated from your group
  4.  Agree a meeting point – agree where you’ll gather if you get split up and head straight there if you can’t find your friends
    5. Look after each other’s drinks – keep track of how much you’re drinking and avoid drink spiking by not leaving drinks unattended

Nikki White, Director of Destinations and Sustainability of ABTA – The Travel Association, says: “For many young people, this summer will be the first time they travel abroad with their friends and we want them to have a fun and safe trip. Sadly, each year a number of young people suffer serious injury and even lose their lives while away on holiday, which is why we’re offering advice to young travellers to help them look after themselves and each other. From sticking together on a night out to taking care when on balconies, there are a few simple steps people can do to protect themselves and ensure they have a memorable trip for all the right reasons.”

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