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Hamish Draper decided against the traditional OE and opted for an eight-week tour of Europe instead - and he's not the only one.

STA Travel and Contiki Tours say travel patterns are changing as young Kiwis prove reluctant to leave their jobs.

Draper, 26, a business manager at BNZ, studied commerce at Otago University and quite likes his job.

He was not keen to throw in the towel to work on construction in London like some of his mates.

Instead, Draper booked a six-week tour of Europe and spent 10 days at the end of the trip travelling around Britain and Ireland - taking in London, Scotland and Wales. He travelled to 20 countries in total.

"I've got a reasonable job here and thought I'd hold it in, because the chances of me finding a good job over there [London] with the way the economy is seemed unlikely. So I thought I'd save up and go over, have a great time and come home."

BNZ let Draper take two weeks' leave in advance.

"I don't know anyone who has gone over recently [to live]. Most people are just going over for holidays. I've got other mates that have gone over and they're putting up scaffolding and putting up tents."

BNZ people director Louise Harvey-Wills said the bank had approved such leave for several employees in a bid to keep "good people".

"While we don't have a formal policy on it, it's about wider values of supporting people to fulfil their dreams and to feel more content in their jobs.

"They tend to come back more motivated and engaged.

"For us it really has been a win-win."

STA Travel managing director Andrew Gay said people were less willing to give up their jobs today than they were five years ago when they would throw caution to the wind and wing it in London.

"It's getting harder to get a good job there, so when they do get a good job [in New Zealand], they are tending to take two months' leave and come back to their jobs.

"There is no doubt the unemployment has risen to a point where it is getting harder and harder to turn up in the UK and get a job."

Gay said departures were up 4 per cent on last year's figures, which showed people were still travelling despite lowered consumer confidence.

But he said the business was booking a lot more return tickets to London these days than several years ago, when the trend was to hop on a one-way flight to Europe and stay for a few years.

Contiki Tours general manager Tony Laskey agreed that young Kiwis were choosing extended holidays over the London experience because of the economy and high unemployment in Britain.

"We are finding that a lot more people are going for a holiday and coming back again.

"We estimate it's around 50 per cent at the moment, 50 per cent are going and 50 per cent are coming back."