Why Brits Abroad Get a Bad Rep

Cringe-worthy stereotypes that just scream British
October 03, 2022
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brits abroad
© Skitterphoto / Pexels

Copious amounts of booze? Check. Bright red sunburn clashing with a loud Hawaiian print shirt? Double check. Annoying chants screamed at full volume over and over again (most likely Gareth Southgate)? Triple check. It’s a full house. You’ve gone and got yourself – the Brits abroad starter pack.

British partygoers get a terrible rep wherever they go, and in our – absolutely unbiased – opinion, it’s not much of a secret why.

Here are four stereotypes that show why Brits abroad are the appalling nemesis of locals from anywhere and everywhere.

1. They leave basic manners at home

A curious inability to master even the simplest sentences in the native language, coupled with a disregard for local customs and a penchant for socially unacceptable behaviors. This holy trinity labels British party animals as a global pariah.

We’re not the only ones saying it. Locals are up in arms in all of the classic British party hotspots (think Magaluf, Benidorm, Ayia Napa), as one British journalist and translator who now lives in Spain revealed:

“Loudness, lewdness, nudity, sexual acts, vandalism, vomiting, urinating and even defecating in the street are some of the behaviours among drunken Brit tourists which upset locals (funnily enough).”

brits aborad problems
© @DrJasjitSingh / Twitter

And we don’t blame them. All things considered, we Brits are a rowdy bunch.

In the eyes of the world, we’re a “dirty, hoggish people” as Mareks Seglis, Latvia’s ex-minister summarised so kindly.

2. They insist on only speaking in English

brits abroad on holiday
© @Ziya_Meral / Twitter

Only we’re not. At least, not always. There’s a special something in the holiday air that gets UK holidaymakers fired up and ready to demolish the bar – and their nation’s global reputation. 

English is the lingua franca of international, entertainment, tech and education business, and many things in-between.

It’s hardly surprising that British people who are used to finding a listening ear wherever they venture to expect this as standard. But it’s more than just a practical expectation.

Refusing to pick up a few words in the local language plays into a wider dynamic of perceived cultural superiority.

A big part of the very British disrespect boils down to language, as the same journalist noted:

“The ongoing refusal to even try to learn [the local language] is forever going to be the biggest barrier to [British people] being totally accepted […] I feel it even as a tourist if I’m in a country where I don’t speak a language they understand”

3. They act like the host country is theirs for the taking

brits abroad tweet
© @AldoRossiSI / Twitter

At the heart of it is the same mentality that motivates public urination, antisocial behaviour, football chants in the early morning hours, and street defecation.

It’s a case of Brits abroad giving off the air that they believe the country they’re visiting is there for their taking, existing solely to serve the needs of Gazza’s Stag-Do 2K19 – from the drinks they buy to the language they place their order in.

Admittedly, boozy Brits don’t have many boundaries in their own country– at least not when alcohol is involved.

But most exhibit far more outrageous antics in foreign streets than they’d ever dream of doing in their home cul-de-sac. 

When they don’t see the country they visit as a place with its own culture, history, and language, tourists think they can just use and abuse it during their boozy city break. 

4. Their idea of making an effort falls well below par

brits abroad spain
© @daf_lewis_ / Twitter

A few words of mispronounced Spanglish isn’t going to heal Britain’s broken global reputation – especially if words are those of a drinks order and nothing more. 

A bit of Google searching, a Lonely Planet Guide, and even some language lessons can go a long way in breaking down the cultural stereotypes associated with boozy Brits whose ignorance gives their nation a bad name. 

Yes, self-professed party islands will always attract people wanting to let loose in a way that they can’t do back home.

But this doesn’t have to mean disrespecting local customs, traditions, and people. 

The problem isn’t in our sunburn, bad dress sense, or obsession with sticking to what we know and love (a full English to start the day and an Irish pub to end it).

It’s more about how we see the world and our place in it.

As a relatively tiny island with a small understanding of the world beyond our doorstep, we Brits would do well to see foreign holidays as a chance to learn about cultures different from our own, not just embark on a boozy blowout. 

Next time you’re on holiday with your mates making a scene worthy of an Inbetweeners skit, maybe think twice about what stereotypes you’re guilty of playing into. 


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