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Are Brits too British abroad?



They are stupid, embarrassing and the biggest bores going. As a Brit, the first thing I do abroad is find out where the 'Brit' place to go is, and avoid it like the plague.
Stuart Goodacre, UK

Are Asians too Asian Abroad? I think all races and creed are entitled to be proud of their identity. There's nothing sadder that the British middle classes swanning off to France and pretending they're more authentic than a croissant.
Alf, UK

Just two of the comments Talking Point has received - read others below.

Background ¦ Your reaction

The Background:

You can spot a British tourist a mile away, usually sporting sunburn, union jack shorts, a football shirt and a pint of lager - or so the stereotype goes.

Brits abroad are "patriotic to the point of fanaticism" according to a new survey.

The UK-wide poll, commissioned by holiday company Airtours, set out to find what typical holiday-makers need from their annual break abroad:

  • 50% of Britons snub local cuisine in favour of good old fish and chips and English breakfasts.
  • 14% of men take their home football team's shirt with them.
  • 34% of British people take their umbrellas.
  • 1% even take English teabags to ensure they don't miss out on a good brew.
  • The survey also found conflicts between the sexes. While women dreamed of lazing on the beach, with a personal hairdresser on hand to banish bad hair days, men favoured the idea of plenty of sex and transporting out their local pub complete with its regular inhabitants.

    Do you think this paints a true picture of British holidaymakers? Are Brits abroad incapable of leaving home behind them and sampling new cultures, or is it just the minority. Send us your views and experiences.

    Background ¦ Your reaction

    Your Reaction:

    I lived in the UK for 4 years and am now in the US. Where are all these Brits who drink and sing on the streets???? God I miss you guys!!! Bring it on England...and show the Americans how to party!!!
    Karan, USA

    In general, it tends to be the working classes who give the English a bad name overseas. The reference to football shirts proves this.
    Ed, England

    The Brits abroad? They are bad enough at home! A classic example of this was last Sunday. My 16-year-old daughter and I attended the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, as we have done for a number of years now, and we were absolutely horrified at the reaction of a large number of the morons sitting near us to the near-fatal crash involving Michael Schumacher.
    The accident happened out of our direct sight, but there was a large screen nearby. When pictures of the crash came through, there was a large cheer. When, some minutes later, there was an announcement over the loudspeakers to the effect that it was thought that Schumacher had broken both legs, there was another substantial round of cheering. My daughter had her radio with her, and had been listening to the commentary when the news came through that he had only broken one leg. A number of the louts near us expressed extreme disappointment at this.
    My point? Most of these aforesaid morons were draped in Union or Damon Hill flags and wearing Damon Hill hats. I have the greatest respect for Damon Hill, as I had for his father before him, and I in no way blame him for any of the above, I must say that he could do without the "support" of these "True-Brits".
    Gerald Murphy, Ireland

    Why are half these comments directed at the USA?? This is about people from the UK not the USA. For all those insulting the USA you're just jealous and why shouldn't British people be proud abroad it is a great country and they have every right to boast their nationality. The UK is no doubt the best country in Europe because they aren't so easily suckered into that dumb EURO.
    Jonathan Lierberman, UK

    No, it's not a problem: tourists of any nationality can act as asinine as they wish. On another note, it's interesting how this survey -- like all the other talking point surveys I've looked at -- has turned into more America bashing. This jealousy is becoming a bit too transparent.
    Naveen Yalamanchi, USA

    It would seem that a large proportion of tourists, whatever country they are from, are overly proud of their own culture and xenophobic to the one they are visiting. A little respect for one's fellow humans and their culture would go a long way to improving the world. We might even learn to like foreigners and their cultures, which would be nice.
    Neil Rajah, UK

    I have worked abroad and I feel homesick but that is not patriotism. I enjoy being abroad and experiencing the lifestyle and culture of various nations, but I feel different due to language constraints. However the British are distinct in their lack of linguistic ability which makes them stand out as different and this needs to be changed.
    Mark Lisle, Ireland

    On a business trip to Rome I was discussing this very fact with a number of other businessmen in a restaurant near the Spanish steps. When the waiter asked us for our order virtually everyone ordered pizza and commented that it wasn't as good as the ones at home (It made me laugh). I however decided to have the local delicacy which happens to be grilled sheep's brains. Well my too British constitution could not cope with this particular dish and I spent the next few days sat with my trousers round my ankles. Oh god I wished I had ordered good old fish and chips or steak and kidney pie with mushy peas.
    Brett, England

    The same observations hold for the Dutch abroad (which sometimes embarrasses me), and from a Dutch point of view for Germans who visit Dutch beaches. So it seems in all nations there is at least a proportion who enjoys vacationing in that way, and is not specifically British.
    Ronald van Raaij, Netherlands

    The problem with being British is that everywhere one goes in the world, there's so many bloody foreigners.
    Mark M. Newdick, USA (Brit expat)

    As a Brit living in Paris I have become somewhat more 'patriotic' but I have to say I am left wincing by the pathetic attempts of fellow Brits to show patriotism by talking loudly in English usually moaning about the French and the food. Just remember the large majority of French understand English and some of us are left here to try and defend our nation's attitudes!
    Charlotte, France

    Here in San Francisco we get busloads of domestic and European tourists who gawk at locals from their air-conditioned buses, especially in the gay neighbourhood, like they're in an urban safari park. Then they go and buy Planet Hollywood T-shirts.
    Ivan Medlicott, USA

    In general you find that travellers from the South of England tend to be a lot more educated in the ways of the country they are visiting and are more able to embrace the culture of their host country. However, we find that Northerners in particular are the exact opposite and would rather sit in an English pub drinking English/European beer than immerse themselves in what they consider to be "Foreign".
    Jon Butcher, Australia

    Certain local economies virtually rely on the "pie, chips & beer" brigade visiting them for two weeks a year. Ask some of the Spanish resorts if they could survive without the 18-30's coming to have a good time.
    Mike Carter, Australia

    Well interesting comment from Andrew.... British Curry and Kebab.... I don't think so, you might have adopted them but we own them.... which goes to show exposed to a different culture and food the British do give it a shot.
    Zinobia B. Busha, India

    I've been lucky to travel all over the world, and have also lived for a long time in Asia. I have to say that German, Japanese and Canadian tourists are more 'obvious' - they're easy to spot - the Canadians wear "Roots" t-shirts, the Germans are often in very large groups hogging all the sun loungers and the Japanese are clicking away on their cameras! If we always insist on stereotyping people (as I've just done) then people will sub-consciously aspire to that stereotype (or look incredibly stupid trying desperately to avoid the stereotype image and pretending they're not from their country). As long as people aren't violent or obtrusive whilst abroad then what harm are they doing?
    Rosalee, UK

    How can you be too British? If you are British you are British! I do not see the sense in going abroad and pretending to be something that you are not. If you like bacon and eggs for breakfast and someone else is doing the cooking why wouldn't you eat it? I'm an ex-pat living in Canada and I love visiting the local British shop to buy some of the foodstuffs that you cannot buy in the supermarket here! I also drink in a British pub - should I be drinking in an American style bar just to soak up some of the culture? What a load of nonsense!
    Kelly Turner, Canada

    When on a vacation you have to eat their food, drink their drink, do what they do. If you can't join in why bother going if all you want to see and do what you left at home. We are coming over to your land next week and we will eat what you eat, do what you do, learn a little of your customs, and try as hard as we can not to be a bore.
    Happy, USA

    Whenever I see British citizens abroad, I find them to be quite proud of their country. I believe that they have a right to be, as surely as anyone from a country smaller than the state of California. It is the people who wear Union Jack clothing and who make themselves the centre of attention that upset me. Americans might be terrible as well, but that is no excuse. Saying "The Americans are really bad too," doesn't justify the xenophobia and arrogance that is quite obvious in the attitudes of such Brits. Such people might as well stay home in the UK and eat the same greasy foods that apparently suits their constitutions.
    Kalyan Neelamraju, USA

    It's always sad to see that the Brits say "those good old colonial day" and cast a negative new on anything new. It seems that they are proud of the past instead of what is current and in the future.
    Nick, USA

    I'm British and it constantly annoys me that we put ourselves down as a nation.
    Be proud to show that you are British but respect the culture in which you are a visitor.
    Simon Hornby, USA

    As a result airline deregulation, many of those who would have once stayed home are finding themselves abroad as a result of cheap airfares. The British do not hold a monopoly on nationalism when abroad.
    Though I was once amazed to find the majority of a group of Brits indulging in bangers and beans, fish and chips, steak and kidney pie, etc, in a restaurant, in Spain. Class is not necessarily a factor. I'd like to think that it is the "tourist" vis-a-vis the "explorer" mindset, which transcends class, albeit the more educated is often better prepared to view another culture and its history from an intellectual standpoint.
    The tourist learns very little from visiting other countries. Several Americans have expressed to me that they can spot a fellow American from a mile away when abroad, all too often loud, naive and looking lost, (middle class with lots of travellers checks).
    It's fair to say that it is a universal attitude. I have known and befriended people from a wide rang!
    George Hage, California, USA

    I'm amazed how this survey about British tourists abroad have, in a number of cases, turned into attacks on Americans. Every country has it's version of the Brit Lager Lout--you cannot judge an entire country by the vocal, visible minority.
    Laura Keating,

    USA I work in a hotel that has seen an increase of British travellers over the past year and I find all of them very nice and very willing to try new things. If they are carrying a few things from home like teabags and such, they never let on. If I didn't notice the accents or football jerseys the look just like everyone else.
    Kim, USA

    I lived a long time in Southern California and have a dislike for crowds and tourist traps. When I go on vacation, I like the small, out of the way spots. When I meet British or other nationalities in these places, they are usually of the same frame of mind that I'm in and we just lay back and enjoy where we're at.
    Phil Grebner, USA

    Whenever I have been abroad (recently to France, The US, Canada and Singapore) I have endeavoured to be polite and unobtrusive - it is the way I expect a visitor to the UK to behave and how my hosts would expect me to behave (and I hate the expression "Brit" -I never have been and never will be one - I am English).
    Mike, UK

    No they are not. There's a diverse population here in California and most residents are quite comfortable in accepting people they way they are. When I travel to the UK, I don't try to act British so why should a visitor here pretend to be American? I enjoy visiting with British travellers and comparing our similarities and differences. I think overall, Americans are rather fond of the British people.
    Brien Alkire, USA

    I disagree with the idea that it is necessarily the lower class less educated type who will resort to insular nationalism abroad. I lived in Syria for a year some time back and the only people who insisted on drinking in Brit only bars, playing football exclusively with non Arabs and generally shunning the local population were... you guessed it...the embassy staff.
    Richard Chubb, UK

    I don't know if British tourists are too "British" but they are recognisable in that they are usually quite badly sunburnt and not very good at dressing casually - my concern is that it can be dangerous to "telegraph" to local scam artists/pickpockets/thieves that you are obviously an "out-of-towner". Nothing to fear though, *American* tourists are much worse it comes to ridiculously expecting "home" standards when abroad.
    T. Houston, Canada

    As an ex-pat living in a major tourist resort, I see some of the worst examples of bad behaviour by holiday-makers. However, it is always a loud minority of louts, who are probably acting the same way that they do on every drunken Friday night in England, that give everyone else a bad name.
    Charlie Bell, Cyprus

    It says British on my passport, I was raised in Stoke-on-Trent and I have lived and worked in Finland for two years. I very rarely come across a Brit here although a few do visit, apparently. The view the Finns have of the British is almost entirely derived from what little cultural output arrives here, perhaps a weeks' holiday in central London if they're well off, and the same set of sad negative clich_that one hears right across Europe. Judging by the things I've heard said about the British, by all nationalities, in the last couple of years there is a frightening level of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge between nations. I now understand, ever more acutely, why there is so much conflict in the world.
    Robin, Finland

    Every nation has its share of bores, drunks, and idiots, and Britain is no exception. However, many of the British travellers I've met were also courteous, kind, and moderate--in other words good guests. Please don't judge Britain (or any other country) by those whose actions are unacceptable.
    Dan Andrews, Egypt

    I remember being in a restaurant in Nepal when a group of British people saw a group of Germans and started singing "We won the war, we won the war, eeiiaddiyo, we won the war." Hardly an example of cosmopolitan thinking, but an attitude all to often repeated when I see vacationing English. Not that Americans are any better.
    T. Schmitt, USA

    They have the "We are British and we demand good service" attitude and never leave a tip or thank you at a restaurant. To make it ever worse they talk about the French being too demanding and complain too much, well they should wake up and smell pat_ I lived in the UK and I know the AMERICANS would "Never" be too AMERICAN abroad.
    Kevin Fortune, USA

    It is tacky Spanish/Greek resorts that are too British, it is not just the people. I try my best to avoid British/typical tourist culture while abroad.
    Duncan Cooper, UK

    Absolutely not! People from all over the world when travelling should be and are proud of their respective countries. OK, maybe not to the extent that some of us Brits exhibit our patriotism, but really, the Americans and the Germans are just as bad if not worse than us, and it's only a bit of harmless fun. Britons have always poked fun at other peoples' customs, but it's rarely malicious and if it is, it's generally over something silly like a football match.
    If Americans can brandish their stars and bars then I don't see what's wrong with a union jack, a "kiss me quick" hat and an old copy of The Sun to eat your chips out of. And let's face it, a pub's the only place to drink, eh?
    Dave Strong, UK

    It totally depends on where you are. I live in Malaysia and the Brits on holiday I come across in the hotel industry are the highest spenders and probably the most sophisticated of all races that I deal with. To say they are boring and too British is ridiculous...they know how to have fun.
    Alison, Malaysia

    Yes, I think some tourists go abroad and behave like philistines - but that is true of American and German tourists as much as the British. We should travel with open minds, willing to try new food, new languages and new experiences. Having said that, after living in the US for about a year now I've realised how much I love about my home country and how proud I am to be British!
    Liz Banks, USA

    Brits are usually complete wallies abroad. We are scared stiff of other cultures; my parents have NEVER travelled abroad and never will. They refuse to eat or drink anything that isn't wrapped in newspaper and can't even stand to smell foreign food. Why go to English pubs and eat English food abroad? There's a world out there - go and explore it!
    Dylan Baker, UK

    I am an Englishman living and working in Boston with an American wife and I am proud to be English and will show it in any way possible i.e. Football Shirt, Union Jack, Cross of Saint George, English Beer, Tea Bags etc. Why not be proud of who you are.
    Kevin Paulaskas, USA

    I have travelled throughout the world and I absolutely love foreign culture and cuisine. And I am proud to be British. If you could stomach those European rejects who call themselves Americans chanting patriotism then you should stomach us.
    Nigel, UK

    If there are any places that I don't want to visit, they are the 'Brits Abroad' places. I cannot imagine a worse place to holiday than a town full of beer-swilling, chip-munching, Sun-reading troglodytes. When I go abroad, It's to sample new cultures and cuisine, not for the sake of chips and sunbathing.
    Jay Russell, England

    What's the point of going to a foreign country if you're just going to live the same way you do at home? As an Englishman, I'm glad to say I've been mistaken for a native in every country I've visited. I even had a radio station stop me in Paris and ask to interview me, as a typical French man-on-the-street reacting to a news story. For heaven's sakes, people, don't pack those teabags. When in Rome, get up and head for the espresso bar!
    Matthew, USA

    It is unbelievable how the British, the same people that live a life "by the rules" (well most of them), only to commit the most ridiculous embarrassing and paranoid acts once they travel abroad. I lost count of the times watching Brits passing under my balcony singing god knows what in the early morning hours, just to annoy the people of the small quiet town on an island. And also how many times that fights were caused because of this..... in a few words... the British have to forget the idea that by travelling abroad, you get a special kind of freedom to be a pain in the you know what!!!
    Sypros, Greece

    The British are not the only one's. My fianc_and I were in Switzerland when we witnessed a coach load of American tourists pour off the coach straight into McDonalds!
    Matthew, USA

    I am a citizen of Great Britain and a resident of the United States. I have found nothing wrong with British citizens abroad. When I travel I have to limit my intake of "foreign food" because I don't want to spend my time in the loo and my money on diarrhoea medication. Maybe many people suffer this problem and just don't want to talk about it hence their search for food their constitutions are familiar with. I have seen and heard many US tourists in Europe looking for a good 'hamburger'. It is a problem all over the world - the British do not have an exclusive on it. A quick aside to John Claro of the USA: get a new pair of glasses then look around your own neighbourhood. Obesity is not a British problem it is an American one.
    Diana Kozuh, USA

    I travel a lot on both business and pleasure and am constantly ashamed of British tourists who won't even attempt to speak the language, eat the local food or respect local traditions and customs. On the other hand I do always take my own tea bags!
    Iain Thomson, UK

    People do not really appreciate what we have her. Some years ago, I travelled to Hungary (during the Cold War). The sight of a British passport would cause the locals to crowd around you and stare with green eyes. The UK is a great country, and we need to appreciate it. One of the problems we have is that we are not British enough. People only see the Football Hooligans, and judge the UK on that.
    Why should we not be British, for our size, we are the most influential country in the world. Why should we not shout this from the top of every tree on every continent? We still COMMAND respect in International Affairs. And some of our tourists are not as bad as people like to believe. RULE BRITANNIA!!
    Phill, UK

    The sun, sex and sangria type holiday is something peculiar to very few countries and is a specific type of holiday which cannot be compared to other countries tourism habits (most of them have better weather than Britain, so their equivalent of a lager-lout is happy to stay put. When a Brit goes on a real tour to see something other than beaches and Disney-world, they behave as well as any other nationality.
    We are certainly not a patch on the Americans who glower at you from their air-conditioned buses as they are whisked from Holiday-Inn to Holiday-Inn in 17 different countries in two weeks, only stopping for a Big-Mac so they can say to their friends that they have "done Europe" This is surely more ignorant.
    John Howell, UK

    It is the working class Brits, particularly from London, who are the most embarrassing when abroad. They are rude, unappreciative of the local culture, only want English food, and seem to always look miserable. I am often ashamed to be be British when these ignorant plebeians are around. Why visit another country if you want it to be like England. Stay in England!
    Simon, Canada




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