Holiday planning.

Whether those two words fill you with a spark of excitement, or a quiet feeling of dread, preparing for a trip does sometimes require some organisation. 

But how do travellers from the UK go about planning their upcoming holidays? Do most of us like to split the task evenly, or does all the work fall onto one holidaymaker, who we like to call the “Chief Travel Officer.”

As a travel money provider, we wanted to answer that question for ourselves.

We spoke to 2,000 UK holidaymakers, across four types of travellers:





The goal was to find out who’s most likely to take on the bulk of holiday planning, and how it impacts their travel experience.

Here’s what we found:


Couples: A balanced picture

When it came to preparing a trip as a couple, we found that most of the participants thought it made most sense to share the planning equally. From our study, 49% of couples split the planning 50/50, and were more likely to spend one and half months to plan a holiday on average.

Impacts of one partner taking the lead

Letting a partner do all the planning

When we look at the impacts of one partner leading the way in travel planning, the findings were largely positive.

29% of travellers were happy for the other partner to plan their trips

27% of participants claimed that it encouraged them to visit new places

Over a quarter said their partner always found a great deal

However, for those who didn’t have a great experience, a common theme we found were issues of costs and a dull holiday.

14% said the holiday was usually too expensive. 

10% of travellers also claimed they ended up going to places they didn’t like

6% said they often found the destinations boring.


Partners who do all the planning

For partners who like to take the lead in planning, the picture was even more positive. 

48% said it made them feel more at ease knowing that everything is taken care of

28% claimed taking the lead resulted in a more relaxing holiday for them

But, not every partner who takes the lead seems to do so willingly

13% said they wish their partner shared more of the responsibility for holiday admin 

9% highlighted that having all the responsibility stopped them from enjoying the holiday as much

Which holiday tasks do couples sort in advance?

Now that we’ve looked at who does the planning, and the key impacts, let’s dig a little deeper into exactly which items of the holiday checklist are most important to plan for.

The top priority for couples was sorting their travel money, with 82% claiming they like to make sure they have cash ready before setting off. 

As far as how couples plan what they’ll do on holidays:

60% of couples decide their activities during the holiday

77% wait until they’ve arrived at their destination to find and/or book tables at restaurants

59% like to sort airport transfers or taxis to accommodation in advance

63% plan other holiday travel arrangements

Here are some more stats we also found: 

80% of couples say they buy suncream before the holiday

76% of couples take out their travel insurance before the holiday, with 10% doing so during the holiday, and the remaining 14% potentially taking the risk of not insuring their trip.

Our full findings for couples are available below: 

Couples holiday planning “Before the holiday” “During the holiday”
Sorting travel money 82% 9%
Purchasing suncream 80% 14%
Purchasing travel insurance 76% 10%
Booking other travel arrangements 63% 26%
Sorting transfers/taxis to accommodation


Deciding activities


Finding/booking restaurants 18% 77%

How do couples's holidays affect their relationship?

Going on holiday together can be a big milestone for any couple, but how does it affect the relationship? Many couples feel that it can have a significant impact. In most cases, it helps strengthen their relationships. 

61% of participants say that planning a holiday together strengthened their relationship 

77% also said that going on their holiday together strengthened their relationship

On the other hand, sometimes trips can have a negative impact, as 13% of respondents did admit to having broken up with a partner while on holiday.

Again, this speaks to the benefit of holidaying as a couple, and the importance of fully enjoying the break and all the new experiences it brings.

Families: A clear lead planner

Planning a family holiday can sometimes feel like having a second job, especially if multiple generations have their own idea of a good trip, whether that be wildlife, nightlife or the quiet life.

With this added complexity, it makes sense that family holiday planning took the longest at almost two months. From what we’ve gathered, we also see that one family member tends to take the lead on planning.

46% of participants said they had the most say on holiday planning

15% said it was their partner who organised the trip.

Only 3% said that planning decisions were shared between all the family members

Reflecting the more multi-generational nature of family holidays, 14% said it was a parent who had the most say, and 9% said it was their children.

Impacts of one partner taking the lead

When it came to the impacts of one family member taking the lead, the family members who were not involved in the planning were very complimentary overall:

56% said the planner was the best at choosing accommodation 

26% said they always found a good deal 

25% also highlighted that the family holiday planner had encouraged them to try new destinations

In terms of drawbacks, 15% of family members who weren’t involved in preparation said they often found the holiday too expensive, but only 6% wished they had more say in the holiday planning.

Which holiday tasks do families sort in advance?

Turning the spotlight onto which key holiday elements are most important for families to plan for, we see a lot of similarities to couples, with a few small differences.

The top holiday task for couples to plan in advance is actually the purchasing of suncream, with 80% of families saying they buy suncream before the holiday, a particularly important purchase for anyone holidaying with children.

Other aspects seen as vital for advance planning

79% of families like to sort out their travel money before they set off

74% of families purchase their travel insurance in advance 

60% of travellers prefer to arrange transfers/taxis to accommodation 

66% tend to arrange other holiday travel arrangements in advance

Families also tend to leave their activity and food choices until the holiday, but slightly less so than couples, with 25% of families booking their restaurants in advance, emphasising the need for a little extra planning when dining with children and/or larger family groups.

Our full findings for families are available below:

Families holiday planning “Before the holiday” “During the holiday”
Purchasing suncream 80% 16%
Sorting travel money 79% 13%
Purchasing travel insurance 74% 8%
Booking other travel arrangements 66% 24%
Sorting transfers/taxis to accommodation


Deciding activities


Finding/booking restaurants 25% 70%

Friends: A designated travel officer

Going on a trip with friends can lead to lifelong memories and maybe a few funny stories to tell later on.

But when it comes to planning those holidays, who takes the lead? Is it more of a joint effort, or does one member of the group chat tend to take the lead?

Our numbers suggest that it’s definitely more of the latter, with 63% of those interviewed saying one friend tends to make most of the decisions for a group holiday. Which is handy, as 42% say that their friendship group would never actually go on holiday without having a designated “planner friend”.

The impacts of a chief travel officer

So, we’ve established that close to two-thirds of friend groups have one friend take the lead on travel planning, but how does that tend to impact the holiday?

Again, the findings was a largely positive one,

  • 42% of friends who weren’t involved in the planning said the group’s lead planner always found a great deal

  • 55% felt it made for a more relaxing holiday experience 

  • 51% said it made them feel relieved to have one friend take the lead

  • 31% said their friend had encouraged them to visit new places

The setbacks seem to be minimal with only 7% saying they wished they had more say, and a mere 2% saying their friend chose destinations that were too expensive.

But what about the friend who ended up volunteering –  being designated – as Chief Travel Officer, how did it affect their experience?

Again, for them, it appeared to be largely a good holiday experience:

  • 59% said it made them feel more at ease knowing everything was taken care of

  • 50% said they liked having control over the holiday planning

It didn’t, however, seem that every friend group had an entirely voluntary chief travel officer, with 22% saying they wished other members of the friend group got a bit more involved with planning and 16% saying they would’ve liked more help with holiday admin like booking travel insurance and sorting out travel money.

Which holiday tasks do friend groups sort in advance?

As we look more closely at what friend groups like to plan for in advance, we see a clear theme emerging, with many similarities to couples and families.

  • 76% of friend groups purchased both travel insurance

  • 76% bought suncream before the holiday

  • 73% sorted out their travel money before their holiday

Travel arrangement planning was very similar to couples and families, with 60% sorting transfers/taxis to accommodation before the holiday and 61% planning their other holiday travel arrangements in advance.

Where the friend groups did differ slightly was in being the most likely group to plan their activities, with 43% of friends organising activities in advance. 

This is likely due to the nature of many friend group holidays, with trips like stag parties, hen parties and birthdays often involving more group activities than the average holiday.

Our full findings for families are available below:


Friends holiday planning “Before the holiday” “During the holiday”
Purchasing travel insurance 76% 6%
Purchasing suncream 76% 13%
Sorting travel money 73% 14%
Booking other travel arrangements 61% 30%
Sorting transfers/taxis to accommodation


Deciding activities


Finding/booking restaurants 17% 78%

Solo Travellers: Quick and easy

Going on holiday alone isn’t for everyone, but these days it’s becoming a popular trend. Whether you’re enjoying a quick weekend break, or a few months backpacking across a continent, there are a range of benefits to planning a solo trip.

Unsurprisingly, solo travellers come in as the quickest to plan a holiday, at a little over a month.

The reasons for solo travel

The ease of decision-making appeals to those who travel solo:

56% say a key reason is that they get to make all the decisions

44% highlight that it’s easier to plan a solo trip 

44% also emphasis enjoying the peace and quiet of travelling alone

21% said solo travelling is a good opportunity to meet new people.

That said, while most solo travel planners (76%) say they plan their entire trip themselves, 14% do consult friends while planning, and 9% talk to family as they plan their trip.

Travelling with friends, family or a partner can involve a lot of discussions from the destination itself to meal plans, so it’s not a surprise to see 79% of solo travellers saying they like that they don’t have to compromise on what they do or where they go.

But the benefits extend beyond simply getting your own way, with 77% saying they believe solo travel is good for self-development and 68% mentioning that completing a solo travel trip gives a real sense of accomplishment.

The spontaneity of solo trips

One further finding on the habits of solo travellers was how many spoke about their love of the spontaneous nature of solo holidays.

66% felt they could be more spontaneous on solo trips

68% said they felt fewer restrictions

57% mentioned fewer distractions

A number of solo travellers also stressed the benefits of being able to engage with the local culture:

21% of solo travellers say they can have more intimate cultural experiences

18% feel they can build deeper bonds with locals

17% mentioned being more likely to be invited to places by locals when on a solo holiday

From these responses, it’s easy to see why solo travel is becoming more popular. The ease and convenience of modern travel planning aligned with the range of experiences you can unlock when travelling alone come with plenty of advantages.

John Lewis Finance and John Lewis & Partners Bureau de Change are both trading names of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 1 Drummond Gate, Pimlico, London SW1V 2QQ. Registered in England (Registered Company Number 233462). John Lewis plc introduce the panel of carefully chosen providers in Bureau de Change products and services, whom each hold the appropriate licences with the Financial Conduct Authority and HMRC.

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