Brits Abroad: Our behaviour has to change

Josh Barrie

51993 Brits Abroad: Our behaviour has to changeA few years ago I was booked on a package deal to Cancun with a group of friends. The whole deal, with hotel, flight, food and drink included, was around £1,200. At 18, two-weeks in the sun with ‘the boys,’ lounging on golden sands and drinking Tequila is the perfect way to prepare for university – or delay ‘life’ at least.

But for me, the trip didn’t happen. I never boarded the plane. This was not because of a sudden change of heart; I did not instinctively mature and realise that spending that much money parading down an infested strip of neon-lit bars wasn’t the way to go. Unfortunately, being an unfathomably disorganised person, my passport had expired.

Losing out on £1,200 is not exciting. I spent the same amount last year Inter Railing for three weeks, and still to this day the thought of well over a grand sinking into the oblivion that is Thomas Cook rocks my very core. My parents however, deep-set in their cynicism, were vocally glad of my peril. They thought it was a waste of money either way.

At 18 though, there isn’t really anything wrong with doing the group holiday thing; if ever matching t-shirts and a packet of Durex too many can be explained, post A Levels is the time. It’s not so much a class or wealth thing either, I’ve seen everyone from McDonald’s employees to Radley-educated law students attend such excursions. The fact is, at that age, fish bowls and sun burn are a rite of passage for many.

The problem, really, is the British image overseas as a whole; at 18 these things might be excused to an extent, but never again. After that it’s time to move on. Still drink, still ‘party,’ it’s just probably time to do it in a less annoying way.

If you were to imagine a 40-year-old Englishman in Marbella, say, you might think of a red, wife-beater-wearing overweight man sweating in the pool area of a three-star hotel. Talking loudly. That is not where the nation’s reputation ends of course; our branded tourism comes in many forms. ‘Brits Abroad’ has negative connotations for a variety of reasons.

Just because you’ve been on a cultural journey for instance, discovering yourself in the hills of Tibet does not automatically make you any more proper or adventurous than somebody who prefers a week in ‘Marbs.’ Drinking Chang at a full moon party instead of Carling in Magaluf does not mean you are flying the flag for Britain in an any more noble way. You still look like an idiot. And chances are, you still act like one too.

The British love to travel, far more than U.S citizens for example. In essence this is a good thing, we live on one world, after all.

My goodness though. How embarrassing it is to see rolls of pink flesh spread across a golden bay; glistening in the sun like a freshly beached squid. Bottles of Strongbow, peppering the sand amid ‘his and her’ beach towels and River Island flip flops. Or to see those on their gap years, chundering into the lap of “lady boys” they mock their friends for meeting; crying to their mothers the next morning because they left their wallets in a brothel.

It’s no wonder then that while we lie, slowly burning, with a fly-ridden portion of fries at our sides, we are dying in number. Staggeringly so, it would seem, as the number of Brits who died abroad has increased by 4 per cent.

It is not as if the dangers of being overtly intoxicated, unprepared or misguided abroad have not been exemplified. The Foreign Office has issued leaflets, flyers and beer mats aplenty to advise against falling foul of locals in bar spats or taxi altercations. Not all deaths are due to stupidity of course, but a significant number of them are.

It is not alarming to hear also, that a sizeable proportion of travellers get locked up abroad regularly; or require the help of a British consulate to aid them in their desperation.

And it’s not just arrests and deaths we have to worry about. William Hague recently talked about ludicrous requests from British explorers, including a call for for help erecting a chicken coop, highlighting the simple truth that many feel inconspicuous while away from home. Those who feel so out of depth might consider spending a week in Cornwall as a less concerning alternative.

As upsetting as it may be to some, we do not have the right to walk around singing God Save the Queen in any country other than our own – outside a sporting occasion – and we certainly do not have the right to expect other people to ignore it if such a happening occurs.

The British holidaying mentality must change; ordering roast dinner while spending a week in Crete is as incongruous as it is ridiculous. So is complaining about the temperature, or moaning about toilet facilities.

And if you begin to find yourself even moderately annoyed at the lovely lady at the cafe in Istanbul, who has yet to master our glorious language? Go home.

Tagged in: , , ,
  • Rollingstone

    Well Pascale, I manage to eat in French restaurants without being overly pissed (like Frenchmen don’t drink when they eat!), loud mouthed, ignorant or rude, so I’m a Brit and you can keep your crap generalizations to yourself.

  • And789

    I wrote a comment criticising this piece yesterday and it has been removed. sad that the author is unable to take criticism. It’s an awful piece of writing. Try harder next time.

  • Reeves

    I’ve lived in Thailand for years, and spend several months a year in Spain. Brits are the most badly behaved of any nationality I’ve ever come across and not being able to stop with ‘just a couple of pints’ is a big part of it.

    I grew up in the UK and can’t figure out when Britain became a nation of alcoholics. But it did. And yes, the British do have the worst reputation of anyone abroad. Why do you think I never tell people I’m British when I’m traveling? I’m Canadian every time and, I can easily pass for it, as I have an American accent (close enough), one drink is enough for me and, oh yes, I don’t swear at the top of my lungs either.

Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter