Trends of Overseas Travel with Children (Part 6)~Barriers against travel with kids 2 ~

This is a series of articles focusing on overseas travel with small children. This article covers what are the reasons why women who used to enjoy overseas travel before they got married cannot travel internationally once they have a baby. What are real barriers against traveling with kids? And how can traveling mothers overcome the barriers.

Hiromi Nakajima

Hiromi Nakajima Columnist

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The previous article covered some obstacles to overseas travelers with small children: “flights” and “concerns about staying in the overseas destination”. Besides, “the age of children” may be one of the biggest factors that discourage parents to go abroad with kids.

After the first baby is born, both mom and dad are too busy taking care of their new family member to feel like traveling. Then, gradually they become used to a life with the baby. The parents may feel like traveling to get out of daily hassles. In reality, however, the new parents, who are facing many challenges of raising a child without experiences in the past, are reluctant to travel even to a domestic destination. Their concerns include: “Is the baby comfortable in the public transportation?” “How can we prepare meals for the baby?” “Are other hotel guests bothered if the baby cries at night?” “What if our baby falls sick during the trip?” and “What should we take with us to the trip?” These anxieties discourage them from going out. They need a lot of energy and courage to travel, let alone traveling abroad. Even for mothers who have rich experiences of international travel, going abroad with a little one requires a tremendous amount of energy than traveling domestically.

As children grow old enough and no longer need baby food, parents are less concerned about going out. That is when travel-loving moms embark on overseas travel with their kids. Meanwhile, quite a few mothers still hesitate to travel abroad. When the children are old enough to communicate with the parents, the most decisive factor on their holiday trip with kids is whether they can enjoy the travel. Another influential factor is the cost performance: when a child is two years old or older, travel expenses are higher than those of an infant aged less than two. Parents may wonder: “Is it worth taking kids abroad who are too young to remember even the trip itself?” “Children enjoy places like zoos, aquariums and theme parks anyway, no matter at home or abroad. Do we really need to take kids abroad?” Parents are very much likely to choose domestic travel.

When children start school, there is no question that “school” is the biggest barrier to overseas travel. School-age children enjoy more activities during the overseas holiday with their parents than younger ones and remember what they take pleasure in for a long time. Overseas travel at this age is much more cost-effective. However, parents of children in higher grades of elementary schools have no choice but travel during long school holidays in summer or in spring because they do not want children to skip classes to go on a vacation with their family. Overseas travel during the peak holiday seasons are more expensive. Before getting married, they only needed to worry about their own travel expenses. Now, considering the total amount of travel expenses for the entire family, parents tend to conclude that a mountain or beach resort close to home is a better destination for the family vacation.

Once the children enter junior high school, family faces another barrier to overseas trip: club activities. Parents find it many times more difficult to have children skip classes than when they were in an elementary school. Even during school holidays, students are expected to participate in club activities, which gives the parents more difficulties to schedule family trips. In general, club activities are continued during school holidays. Even though parents are eager to travel, they cannot leave children alone at home. Parents with more than one child make every effort to find the dates when there is no club activity planned for any of their children and they can take a leave from their work, which often results in learning that they cannot find enough days for overseas family holiday. Or they may end up finding that ‘Bon’ days, the highest peak of the summer, is the only time when all family members can accommodate family trip in their busy schedule. During this peak period, the airfares and holiday packages are too expensive for them to afford, and it is often extremely hard to book a trip during the top peak week.

Many families give up taking children abroad for various reasons. For some parents, children are too young to travel overseas, while for others, children cannot skip school classes and club activities. There are barriers at each stage of children that discourage their parents to take them to a family vacation overseas. Some mothers may keep overseas vacation completely out of their mind until children are old enough that the parents can travel leaving them at home. Indeed, as children are in higher grades of elementary schools, parents are challenged by more barriers against taking them to a trip abroad that cannot be easily overcome. I would like to encourage mothers to go abroad with children all the more while they are still in lower grades of elementary school or even younger. I hope they create a lot of precious memories with small children, which are only possible at that age. Once mothers do travel abroad with children, many of them find it much easier than they thought before the trip and have much more fun with the kids than they expected. They regret that they should have enjoyed overseas travel with kids earlier. The younger the children are, the easier it is to overcome barriers associated with “the age” of the children. Let dads and moms know that it is great fun to travel overseas with their kids and some of the ‘skills and knowledge’ to make it easier. If they learn how to enjoy travel, there should be hardly any parents who are not willing to go overseas with children. For parents, “Overseas travel with children” is a precious experience only possible with small children. They can still enjoy overseas vacation with grown up children, but the travel experience with them will be something totally different.

【Previous report here】 >Trends of Overseas Travel with Children (Part 5) – Barriers Against Travel with Kids