1 in 10 Brits will host Christmas on Zoom this year as cost of living keeps families apart

  • With 48% of Brits having family abroad, a ‘global’ Christmas is common for many in the UK
  • As the cost of living soars, 12% are opting for a “Zoom Christmas” this year instead of seeing family in person 
  • 53% of Brits who are travelling this Christmas are adding extra layovers or taking different modes of transport to lower the price of their travel.

Zoom turkey dinners are set to stay for another year as the cost of living crisis forces Brits to rethink their Christmas plans, according to new research commissioned by Wise. While Christmas is usually a busy time for travel, with people seeking some winter sun or reuniting with family, this year will be different for many Brits — both in the UK and abroad. 

The research polled 5,000 Brits to see how the cost of living crisis is affecting their travel and spending plans this Christmas, finding that many Brits will be forced to spend another year away from their families.

  • 12% of Brits are opting for a “Zoom Christmas” instead of seeing family in person to save money. 
  • 15% have family abroad that won’t be able to make it home for Christmas.
  • 19% aren’t seeing family to avoid burdening them financially with the cost of hosting. 
  • Of those who are travelling to see their families this year, 25% are reuniting for the first time in at least 2 years. 

For some, [cheaper] travel is still on the cards

With prices rising, 53% of Brits are opting for a range of cost-saving measures to make their travel cheaper this Christmas. A hardy 14% are enduring extra layovers, 13% are flying solo, 10% are driving, 10% are taking the train and another 10% are travelling on Christmas Day to save money. Compounded by planned train and border force strikes, this festive season is likely to be a difficult one for travelling. 

Travellers are also cutting back on spending in the lead up to Christmas: 33% are having fewer dinners out, 30% are shopping less, and 15% are working from home more often to put the transport money towards their travel budgets. 

Some Brits are planning to travel outside the Christmas season altogether — 20% say they will travel in January or February, when prices are lower. One Wise customer, Mark, who lives in Prague, shared his experience: “It’s too expensive for us to make it home for Christmas this year, so we’re travelling back to the UK in early 2023 when flights are cheaper. Instead, we’ll buy presents using our Wise card. We don’t want to spend yet another Christmas away from home - but Covid, followed by the cost of living crisis, has just meant it’s been impossible to spend Christmas with my family in the UK.”

Another Wise, customer, Debbie, who lives in Spain, also shared her struggles: “Plane tickets are too pricey to justify the trip home this year, so we’re staying put in Spain, and spending time with family over Zoom this Christmas instead. Although we’ve felt the price increases here in Spain, I’m more concerned about my family back in the UK, who have been much harder hit financially.” 

Nilan Peiris, Chief Product Officer at Wise, comments: “After many years of not being able to travel due to Covid restrictions, it’s really tough to see that the UK economy is making it difficult for global families to be reunited again in 2022.

While Christmas is an important time for families to come together, it’s also easy to overspend. In the current environment, people are right to be cautious and sensible with how they spend their money, whether it’s cutting back on gifts, saving money on posting presents with bank transfers, or simply delaying their in-person celebrations for later in the year.

Nearly half of us in the UK have family abroad, so this is going to impact a huge number of people. We encourage everyone to do what’s right for them this year, make savings where they can, and do their best to enjoy the festive season, no matter how near or far from loved ones you may be."

About Wise

Wise is a global technology company, building the best way to move money around the world. With the Wise account people and businesses can hold over 50 currencies, move money between countries and spend money abroad. Large companies and banks use Wise technology too; an entirely new cross-border payments network that will one day power money without borders for everyone, everywhere. However you use the platform, Wise is on a mission to make your life easier and save you money.

Co-founded by Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, Wise launched in 2011 under its original name TransferWise. It is one of the world’s fastest growing, profitable technology companies and is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker, WISE.

16 million people and businesses use Wise globally, which processes £9 billion in cross-border transactions every month, saving customers around £1.5 billion a year.

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