From trips to the seaside as children and interrailing with friends in our teens to package holidays with our own families and cruises in later life, for many of us there’s a pattern to how and when we take holidays. It all depends on where we are in our lives. 

But now it seems that a mainstay in the world of holidays – the good old all-inclusive package trip – is dying a death.

According to new research by foreign exchange specialists, Travelex, 85% of us are now opting for adventurous holidays over all-inclusive deals. A lot of us are more than happy to spend three to six months saving and searching for unique holidays that are a bit more exciting.

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“How we holiday has evolved so much over time - from the day trips to seaside towns by train to now spending up to half a year planning the worldwide trip of a lifetime,” says Elvin Eldic, head of retail at Travelex UK. “Our ambitions now are to visit the far and wide, which changes our expectations of what we want to get out of our time away.”

How holidays have changed

As with so many things, the practice of ‘going on holiday’ originated with the Romans. Thanks to their empire and the fact they’d engineered a period of peace, Roman citizens were able to explore their lands in relative safety. They even produced guide books.

After the fall of Rome, the Dark Ages weren’t quite such a jolly time for taking a summer break. Travel was limited to the kind that involved pillaging, although people did occasionally travel to neighbouring villages for religious festivals. For more serious religious types, pilgrimages also took place.

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In Tudor times, only the rich and royal got to travel, and even then it was often only to share news (births of new princes/princesses) and raise their profile with the people. This practice was called a “progress” and up to 1,000 people would join the procession.

By the 18th century, the idea of taking a Grand Tour of Europe became standard for privileged youth. They would visit France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and more for a summer, before going home and getting married.

The Industrial Revolution gave us the steam train, so when bank holidays were introduced in law (1871) normal folk could get away to the countryside or the beach for a couple of days. And so began traditions like ice cream, fish and chips and donkey rides by the sea. Blackpool and Southend were very popular. For longer trips, the wealthier could go further abroad thanks to steamboats, with Niagara Falls, Cairo, Oslo, Shanghai and Paris being popular.

Holidays to Butlin’s and the like became commonplace in the 1930s, and after World War II, when a two-week paid holiday was introduced, even more people began taking holidays. In the 1950s, Thomas Cook also started chartering flights to places like Corsica, Palma, Sardinia and Costa Brava, kicking off a trend for package holidays.

By the 1970s, everyone was holidaying in Spain, and then it was just a hop-skip-and-a-jump before people were clubbing in Ibiza. Cheap airlines made putting your own holidays together a possibility in the late 90s, and now we’re getting increasingly adventurous with our time off.

What about the future of holidays? According to Travelex’s survey, more than half of Brits expect to be spending their holidays in space by 2116!

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Has how you’ve holidayed as a family changed over the years? Let us know in the Comments section.