Jetsetting with the children in tow
A growing number of Chinese parents are using travel as a means of improving their children’s development while building family bonds. According to a recent survey by Chinese online travel firm Tuniu.com, 65 percent of Chinese parents in the country have plans to travel abroad with their children.
Shanghai leads the way in outbound family travel, followed by Beijing, a statistic that is consistent with the economic status of the two cities, said Xue Juan, a public relations representative at Tuniu.
In addition to at least five domestic getaways every year, Zhao Jinsong makes it a point to bring his six-year-old son to one overseas destination. The family has been to Thailand and the Saipan Island so far.
“We want to broaden our son’s horizons,” said the 38-year-old IT project manager.
Zhao added that their frequent travels have helped instill better manners and responsibility in his son, saying the child now knows how to look after his younger counterparts during trips.
According to the survey, families with children aged six to 12 form the majority of such travelers (60 percent),
Pan Yiling, primarily because elder children have more study commitments while younger ones require too much care.
However, the number of parents traveling with babies and toddlers are also on the rise — more than 30 percent of Tuniu’s clients aged under 18 are preschool children, up 10 percent from the corresponding period last year, said Xue.
“Many people think that babies or toddlers cannot remember what happens during the trip, but that’s not true,” said Pan Yiling, a 32-year-old freelancer in Shanghai who has taken his two-year-old son to overseas destinations such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
“For example, my son could recall that the animal he saw in a book was the same one he saw at a zoo in Singapore,” added Pan.
Based on the survey results, nine out of the 10 top outbound destinations are in Asia, as most parents say that their young children find it difficult to handle long flights.
“We usually go to places where it takes no more than six hours by plane, otherwise the kid’s biological clock will be disrupted,” said She Jialin, who has a five-year-old daughter.
Japan was ranked first mainly due to it having attractions such as Tokyo Disneyland and the Chibi Maruko park in Shizuoka. The United States came in 9th on the list. Xue said that families go on study tours in the US because of the country’s abundance in higher education resources.
Alitrip, the online travel platform of Chinese internet giant Ali Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, reported that most parents favor locations with children-friendly facilities such as Disneyland, Universal Studios and Happy Valley. Island destinations have also been gaining popularity among Chinese parents, with Phuket, Maldives, Bali and Saipan ranking among the top four.
a 32-year-old mother