British Studies Web Pages



Holidays - A to Z

An insider’s guide to all kinds of holiday ideas with a lot of interesting links for you to browse.

For ideas how to adapt the A-Z format for the classroom, click here.

Activity holiday

Activity holidays are becoming increasingly more popular, with Centre Parcs in the UK catering for those who want to do outdoor and indoor exercise within a controlled environment. Of course activity holidays can be had in any country, and you can read what Slovenia has to offer for the active holidaymaker.

(and Accommodation)

Wherever you go, you will need somewhere to stay. For some ideas regarding the UK, see the Accommodation section in our links.

Bank holiday

In the UK this refers to an official public holiday when all banks and post offices are closed, as well as factories, shops and offices (although many large stores stay open now). A lot of British people take this opportunity to go on a day trip, and every bank-holiday weekend there are long traffic jams along the routes to the most popular holiday areas. For an amusing view of this, read the archetypal British holiday. 

(and)  Beach

Beaches are a traditional part of many people’s idea of a good holiday. Mielno, Now and Then looks at how a popular Polish seaside resort has changed, while our article on the cult novel The Beach by Andrew Garland puts this theme into a broader, universal context. 

Camps and Campsites

Holiday camps were very popular in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, with visitors staying in chalets in self-contained villages with all food and entertainment organised for them. Butlin’s and Pontin’s, the companies, which owned most of these, are well-known names in Britain. As you can read in The British and Holidays their popularity has also declined considerably with the increase in holidays abroad. Campsites where you can pitch a tent are also an important feature of a holiday for many people.


Many of us go on holiday because we want to explore difference; in food, climate, customs, ways of life, and culture. Tomasz Siuta provides a very enlightening (and amusing) discussion of whether difference is ‘strange’ or not in his Postcard from Nottingham.


People like to do different things on holiday; sunbathing, reading, sightseeing, walking, adventure sports and spending lots of money! People do things on holidays that they don’t have time for in their everyday lives. Find out what sorts of things these were for the people we surveyed in our Holiday Questionnaire. If you need any ideas about how to spend a holiday in the UK, look at our links for Things to Do.

Foreign tourism

Before the 1960s, it was mainly the rich in the UK who took holidays abroad. By 1971, the British were taking 7 million foreign holidays and by 1987, 20 million. The most popular holiday destinations are foreign countries with a lot of sunshine like Spain or Italy. For a very critical, and personal, view at how some British people behave on holiday, read The British Abroad – a Personal View.


The ‘tourist gaze’ is a certain stereotypical way of looking at typical tourist attractions. See our review of  Consuming Places by John Urry.

Hitch hiking

A very popular and cheap way of travelling for many young people. In Poland songs were written about ‘Autostop’ in the good old days when drivers were friendly and it was safe to travel. Hitch-hiking is also often connected with ‘backpacking’ (travelling with just a rucksack), which Christine talks about doing around South America in the Cross Cultural Questionnaire.


Still a (comparatively) cheap and popular way for young people to spend their summer holiday, or part of a year off. Neil in the Cross Cultural Questionnaire recalls an inter-railing holiday as one of his most memorable experiences, and talks of it as a ‘rite of passage’ for many young people.


“It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive”. For some the journey is an important part of the holiday, for others a tiresome necessity to be endured. If you intend to travel in the UK we hope the Travelling Information section of the links will make life easier for you.


An uncomplimentary term for what often passes as souvenirs from holidays, what usually gathers dust on your mantelpiece afterwards. Here is a list of typically Polish souvenirs: thermometers in the shape of a wooden highlanders’ cottages brought from Zakopane, amber jewellery from the seaside and a Black Madonna pendant from Częstochowa. One of the questions we asked in Cross Cultural Questionnaire was about the type of souvenirs the people brought back.


It is always appreciated if you try to speak the language of the country you are visiting. Despite Tomasz Siuta’s fluency in English, however, he soon encountered the regional lingustic differences for which the United Kingdom is famous. His Postcard from Nottingham tells us how he managed.


The British Museum is still one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK with nearly 6 million visitors a year. Aleksandra Gelner in her Postcard from Chester was enormously impressed with the way the museums she visited were brought to life by interactive activities and clever design. For other historic attractions in the UK provides a guide to Britain’s historic buildings, landscapes and archaeological sites.

New friends

While this is not always the reason why we go on holiday, many people come back with new friends they then keep for the rest of their lives. This certainly seems to be the case with Ewa Ullman, who recalls her unforgettable holiday in Postcard from Bournemouth.


We hope you don’t have an accident on holiday, though many people do. Marzena Puto tells us of the hazards of a popular Cambridge pastime, punting, in her Postcard from Cambridge.

Package holiday

Package holidays are very convenient because they provide you with the whole ‘package’ if you want - flight, accommodation, food, and even entertainment. They were behind the big boom in overseas tourism in the UK (see The British and Holidays) and although they were initially booked and paid for through a travel agent, they are being increasingly sold through the Internet. Usually the earlier you book the cheaper they are (which is why holiday companies do so much advertising in winter), although last minute buyers can also find bargains.


For check-in at the airport, entrance to the museum, the ski-lift, an ice-cream, Madame Tussaud's…. Yes, the list goes on and on, and we’ve all been there. Ewa Groszek in her Postcard from Exeter even said she got to like it! 


You can eat rock in seaside resorts in the UK like Blackpool and Brighton. It is made of sugar and stick-like in shape. Artificial flavourings and the high sugar content make it very colourful and attractive to children. It is very bad for your teeth, another reason probably why children like it. Rock is featured in The Archetypal British Holiday.


The colloquial term for photographs, as in ‘holiday snaps’. Holiday snaps seem to be an essential part of most people’s holidays. Ewa Groszek made an impressive photo record of her stay in the UK in Postcard from Exeter.


Time is a key word for holidays – free time, a good time, holiday time, having the time of your life. Mrs. A’s Diary explores idioms and expressions connected with time.


If you are coming to the United Kingdom, remember there is more to the UK than just London! Our Postcards from Britain give a flavour of some other areas, and Things to Do in the Links section some information about other parts of the UK.

Visit Britain

The name of an official web site for visitors to the UK ( For lots more information about visiting the UK, either on holiday or with school trips, see our Links for Exchanges and Visits to the UK.

Working holidays

An increasing number of people now go on ‘working’ holidays. This might include repairing an ancient stone wall, taking part in an archaeological dig, fruit or hop picking, or working as an au pair. For a list of opportunities for working holidays in the UK, have a look at the Visits-temporary work section of our Holiday links. Some bittersweet Polish memories connected to this can also be found in Poles Abroad – A Personal Memory.


Xenophobes are people who are not keen on other cultures and they should really stay at home, unless the experience of foreign travel can make them more open-minded. Adam Dalton provides a ‘worst-case scenario’ of a minority of The British Abroad, arguing that ‘they go abroad looking for evidence that foreigners are as bad as some Brits have always said they were.’

Youth hostels

The Youth Hostels Association is an international organisation which has branches in many countries including Poland (Polskie Towarzystwo Schronisk Młodzieżowych). Its aim is to provide cheap accommodation for young people and thus encourage them to travel. If you want to use Youth Hostels in the UK it is a good idea to join first.

Z ?

We couldn’t think of a good idea for Z, so send in your ideas and we will give copies of Alex Garland’s The Beach (see the review on this book.) to those with the best suggestions.

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