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The consequences of overindulging on holiday revealed

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Young Brits on holiday are putting themselves at serious risk of hospitalisation, arrest or detention, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). 

New research shows that around half (51%) of 16-24 year olds say they are likely to drink more on holiday than at home. Almost two thirds (62%) attributed this to alcohol being cheaper. Peer pressure is also a major factor, with 40% of those surveyed saying they had felt pressure from friends to drink more than they wanted to.

Gavin Cook, Deputy Head of Consular Assistance at the FCO, says: “Going on holiday is a great opportunity to relax and have fun with family and friends, and enjoying a drink can be part of that.  We’re not telling people to stop drinking but we do want people to be aware of the consequences of drinking to excess – and our research shows almost half of young people understand them already.

“Activities which may be legal in the UK may not be legal in another country.  To avoid a night in a jail cell or even a criminal record, it’s important to research local laws and customs, including on alcohol consumption, before you go.

“Drinking can impair judgement.  The effect of being hospitalised or arrested overseas goes far beyond a ruined holiday and can have a devastating impact on family and friends – financially and emotionally.  So our message is have fun in the sun, but drink responsibly so you don’t put yourself at risk of harm.”

The FCO is also encouraging holidaymakers to show respect and consideration to others whilst on holiday - findings revealed that excessive alcohol consumption resulted in young British holidaymakers engaging in risky or disrespectful behaviour:

  • Almost a quarter (23%) of young British holidaymakers have gone swimming while drunk on holiday abroad
  • More than one in ten (11%) young Brits have put themselves in a vulnerable situation with a stranger while drunk on holiday abroad
  • Over a quarter (26%) of 16-24s have done something while drunk on holiday that they were ashamed of.
Anne Foster, Director, Marketing and Communications at alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said: “Holidays are the perfect opportunity to relax and have fun, but drinking to excess in the sun can result in more than just a hangover. It’s important to stay hydrated in the heat, especially if you are drinking alcohol, as it dehydrates you even further. To ensure you have a holiday to remember, if you drink, make every other drink a soft one.”

Top tips to ensure alcohol doesn’t ruin your holiday:

  • Remember tolerance to alcohol may change in the heat and bars abroad often serve larger measures than in the UK.  It is worth alternating your drinks with water or soft drinks.
  • Protect your drink – to avoid the risk of your drink being spiked, keep an eye on it at all times and don’t accept drinks from strangers unless you see them being poured at the bar.
  • Stay close to your friends – if you are drinking with friends look out for each other. If they seem drunk or act out of the ordinary, make sure you get them home safely. Never let a friend go home alone or with someone they don’t know.
  • Drink respectfully –  this includes showing respect and consideration to other holidaymakers and local people while on holiday and bear in mind that in some destinations it pays to be aware of specific cultural and local sensitivities
If you have any enquiries for FCO consular staff before you go or while abroad you can now ask questions via @FCOtravel.

Otherwise email the travel advice team, contact local consular staff, or like FCO Travel on Facebook




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