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Almost a third of us plan to jet off abroad this winter, with Spain and the USA the most popular destinations for travel.


According to Consumer Intelligence, 31 per cent of people are planning a winter holiday. Spain, the USA, France and The Canary Islands are all top choices, while Canada has slipped from the third-most popular destination last year, when only 19 per cent of respondents were planning a winter holiday, to the fifth.

“Despite Brexit uncertainty the British urge to travel is still strong,” says Ian Hughes, from Consumer Intelligence. “A strengthening pound against the dollar means that travel money may go further than expected, but travellers should look to lock in good deals on currency before they go away.”

Top countries for a winter holiday 2019

Spain 18%
USA 14%
France 14%
Canary Islands 13%
Austria 7%
Canada 7%
Australia 6%
Portugal 6%
Germany 4%
Poland 4%


Top countries for a winter holiday 2018

Spain 22%
USA 11%
Canada 11%
France 10%
Germany 8%
Italy 8%
Switzerland 7%
Austria 7%
Norway 6%
Iceland 5%


Destination Europe

Despite the relative weakness of the pound against the euro since Brexit, European countries remain popular as winter holiday destinations. However, Australia has entered the list of top countries, with six per cent of travellers planning a trip there, compared with five per cent last year.

“Dollars and euros are the most used holiday currencies in winter,” Ian Hughes says. “However, there’s evidence that we’re venturing further afield, with Australian and Canadian dollars, Bulgarian Lev and Hungarian Forint all being used by winter travellers.”


Customers rely on debit card spending

Despite ricocheting exchange rates, more customers than before are relying on using their debit cards to spend while abroad. This approach can be good value, depending on the exchange rate at the time, but can also run the risk of customers being hit with foreign exchange fees and charges for taking cash out of foreign ATMs.
The study shows that fewer people -68 per cent, compared with 74 per cent - were planning to take travel cash this year. Pre-paid cards were also down, from 27 per cent to 21 per cent, while 48 per cent of people were planning to use a credit card, compared with 60 per cent of people last year.

Where only 28 per cent of people used a debit card last year, 43 per cent were planning to use a debit card for spending for this year’s winter holiday. The survey showed that travellers who previously went abroad over winter found that cards were widely accepted, with only three per cent saying that it was hard to spend on cards.

“The need to take cash when you are travelling abroad lessens as ATMs are more available in tourist areas and more shops take cards,” says Ian Hughes. “But debit cards can be expensive for day-to-day spending abroad, depending on the bank you are with, and you cannot use them to lock in a good exchange rate at a timely moment.
Prepaid card providers who want to gain custom this winter ought to remind travellers about the benefits of these cards - cheap transparent pricing, and the ability to buy currency on days when the pound is strong.


How do you plan to pay on your winter holiday?



Cash 68%
Credit Card 48%
Debit Card 43%
Prepaid Travel Money Card 21%
Other 2%



Cash 68%
Credit Card 48%
Debit Card 43%
Prepaid Travel Money Card 21%
Other 2%


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