The worst Brit abroad habits

Everybody loves a holiday, and with our proud voyaging heritage and terrible weather we Brits are particularly fond of heading off on our jollies. Each summer planes packed with pasty sun-seekers head off to the Med and further, lured by the promise of good weather and cheap prices. But the sun and excitement can often make us forget our please and thank yous, and worse. What are the worst traits of the British abroad? Take a look...


Foul and loud it often is, but the worst part about it is that it’s English. The “if they don’t understand you, just shout louder” philosophy is still very much de rigueur on the Costas and throughout Europe. Listening to a fellow countryman barking patronising orders in a St Helens accent peppered with obscenities is one of the true holiday nightmares for the conscientious British traveller.

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No longer just the preserve of Johnny Foreigner and the Royals, ordinary Brits are stripping off in greater numbers than ever. “It’s only skin” is a more convincing argument from supermodels basking on a yacht off the Monte Carlo coast, but not one that washes when it’s a 60-year-old grandmother from Enfield who, after a week in Benidorm, ends up looking like a varnished scrotum. For what reason the elderly and disgusting continue to shed their clothes while in the sun is unclear. No-one wanted to see it before; no-one wants to see it now it’s a bit darker.

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Silly hats

From sombreros to handkerchiefs to pork pie wanker hats, we Brits really do like our ridiculous headgear once the temperature hits 20 degrees. True, they all protect the head from the sun’s harmful rays, but this is neither here nor there if the subject lies out in the burning sun with no sun cream on all day after downing flaming Sambuca shots from the pool bar.

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Holiday = get pissed. This is the route-one logic of the average Brit abroad, and one that is responsible for perhaps our most enduring stereotype. Each summer the jails cells and hospitals of Mediterranean towns are packed with vomiting, staggering Brits, staring glassy-eyed and incomprehensible as their predicament is explained to them. The “get in, get pissed, get lairy” drinking style of the British crashes head long into the cafe culture of Europe, and the casualties invariably mount up.

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No sex please, we're British...

What goes on tour stays on tour, right? Not when it’s a gang of marauding pubic lice clambering all over your Jackson Pollocks. Those suckers will hitchhike back to Blighty and cause more than embarrassment when they turn up in the marital bed. As well as booze and sun, sex makes up the holy trinity of the British holiday maker, but after 12 bottles of San Miguel, a jug of sangria and five Aftershocks, safe sex is given little thought.

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Call me old fashioned, but part of going to another country used to mean trying different things, including food. Being forced to cater for the British palate must have European chefs weeping into their full English breakfasts, which they dutifully serve up once the Brits come to town. But it doesn’t stop there. Locals watch in perplexed amazement as sweating, rippling waves of Brits force down fish and chips, pies and roast dinners in 40 degree temperatures. After being washed down with cans of John Smiths and Guinness, the patrons mock the lazy locals for having siestas, before promptly falling asleep at 8.30pm.

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Sky TV, pub quizzes, second tier (“real”) football and more ex-pats than you can shake a stick at mean that Brits can now enjoy the sun without having to do anything foreign at all while on holiday. Paella and sangria are about as far as many will go in Spain - maybe some ouzo in Greece - but it’s not exactly a cultural exchange. The coastal fringes of many a Mediterranean country have been transformed into sunny Essexs and Newcastles, where you can get fish and chips while you watch the League One playoff semifinal.

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Where better to practice the favourite British past-time of racism than abroad? Ex-pats snap up their copies of the Daily Mail and The Sun and lament that Britain has become a haven for foreigners who live in their own neighbourhoods, don’t speak the language, don’t integrate with the locals and contribute little to society. They do all this with such straight faces you’d swear they didn’t realise the irony. But they must, mustn’t they?

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Drink driving

It's increasingly frowned upon back home, but while abroad Brits like to take a trip back in time and get behind the wheel after more than a couple of shandies. That the average age of an ex-pat is well over 60 doesn't help the driving quality. Neither does driving on the "wrong" side of the road.

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About the Author

Robert Macintosh is a full-time journalist based in Northern Ireland. He has accumulated eight years’ experience since 2005, writing for magazines, newspapers and websites in various countries. Macintosh has specialised in politics and entertainment. He has an honours degree in social anthropology, an NVQ level 4 in newspaper journalism and an AS Level in photography.