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UK Students have seen just 5% of the world

The average UK student has visited just under 5% of the countries in the world, according to a new international study

  • Well over half of all countries  in the world have only been visited by 1% of UK students 
  • Greenland, Chile and Fiji are among these ‘least seen’ countries
  • Over half of students have yet to go travelling
  • The numbers ‘travelling’ have doubled since 2010, driven by students looking for experience-led adventures

 The findings, from Hostelworld’s Meet The World Report, reveal that the average UK student has visited just nine countries, most of which are inside Europe.
Amazingly there are 109 countries worldwide (well over half) that have been visited by just 1% or fewer UK students – with countries from all corners of the globe, including Greenland, Chile, Ghana, Fiji and Bangladesh, among those in this ‘least-seen’ category.
France came out as the country most visited by students from the UK, with 64% having made the trip across the channel. Half (50%) of UK students have been to Spain, making it the second most visited country, while Germany came third (36%) and the USA fourth (33%).
Table 1. Top 10 most visited countries by UK students 

Table 1. Top 10 most visited countries by UK students
Rank  Country Proportion of UK adults who have been there 
1 France   64%
2 Spain      50% 
3 Germany 36%
4  US 33%
5  Holland  28% 
=5 Belgium 28%
7 Italy 25%
8 Austria  20%
9 Greece 19%
10 Portugal 19% 

It was also found that over half (53%) of UK students have yet to go travelling but this is expected to change as the number of students ‘travelling’ – defined as a longer trip abroad to more than one country – has doubled in the past five years. Just 8% of students went travelling in 2010, compared to one in five (19%) in 2014.
Young adults are helping drive a general trend in increased travelling. Industry figures reveal that youth travel (15-30) is growing and will soon account for a quarter (25%) of all international arrivals. Rather than traditional holidays, these young adults are seeking longer trips that help them gain valuable life-experience, with one in eight (13%) turning to global travel as a means to learn new skills, including becoming more independent (17%) and learning new languages (15%). 
Among students, the main motivation for travelling is to have an adventure (77%), while seeing the world was cited as a key motivation for 71%. New experiences (59%) and learning about the world (59%) were also major push factors for students.

Hostelworld’s Chief Marketing Officer Otto Rosenberger comments:

‘When people travel they don’t just get to see the world, but also to share experiences with other travellers they meet along the way. That’s the beauty of a hostel it’s a social hub full of travellers looking to meet other people to explore the world with.’

In fact, travelling was found to result in people meeting three times as many people as on a standard holiday[3]. As for the people themselves, Australians and Americans were named as the nationality that UK adults would most like to meet while travelling (both 25%).
While so many students wish to travel, cost was seen as a barrier, with 84% thinking they can’t afford it.
Otto Rosenberger, CMO, Hostelworld, comments: "People think that going travelling can be expensive but the reality is that you can stay in hostels around the world for under £10 per night. Hostels are more stylish, comfortable and better equipped than ever before, so there’s really no excuse for not getting out there and making new friends along the way.’

Simon Reeve, adventurer, TV presenter and New York Times bestselling author, added: 

“The value of travelling is truly unquantifiable. I didn’t go to university and I don’t have many qualifications, but instead I’ve learnt through my travels around the world and the amazing people I’ve met along the way. There’s no substitute for seeing things with your own eyes rather than in a textbook.
“Life is short and people need to get themselves out of their comfort zone and embrace the adventures that only global travel offers.”


  • Date published: 10th July 2015
  • Written by: Liz Bland

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