The evolution of the family holiday - globetrotting children lap their parents

Article date: 24 June 2011

  • 94% of children have been abroad by the age of 16, whereas only four in 10 of their parents went abroad as children.
  • Aviva Travel Insurance launches travel disruption cover to offer increased protection.

New research from Aviva Travel Insurance1 has found that in just a generation, the face of the family holiday has changed dramatically, with children travelling further and to a wider range of destinations than ever before.

A survey of 1,006 UK adults found that over the past generation, the proportion of families going overseas for their holidays has risen significantly. While 94% of parents said their own children had been abroad before the age of 16, just four in 10 (39%) had been abroad themselves when they were young, a difference of 55%.

Children are also travelling to further flung destinations than their parents ever did. While just 2% of today’s parents had been to North America when they were young, over a quarter (28%) have now taken their own children to the USA or Canada. Closer to home, just 26% of today’s parents said they had been to Europe when they were a child yet 73% said they had since taken their own children to the continent.

Of the people who take their children on two foreign holidays a year, 94% go to Europe and 51% go to the USA. Assuming a trip to the south of Spain and another to Florida, these children would have flown over 10,000 miles per year, meaning they would possibly have flown the equivalent of seven times around the globe by the time they were 16.2


Today’s parents’ childhood

Today’s children

Travelled abroad



Been to Europe



Been to America



One or more foreign holidays per year



Even destinations that have traditionally been the preserve of students or the very wealthy are seeing parents visiting with children, including North Africa (8% have taken their children), Asia (7%) and the Caribbean (6%)

Children’s travel habits then and now
Children today are also travelling abroad a lot more often than their parents ever did. In terms of frequency, the percentage of people taking their children away on average once a year has risen from 30% of parents when they were a child, to 50% who take their children abroad this often now. Additionally, the percentage of children going abroad more than once a year has risen by a half from 8% when parents were children themselves, to 12% who take their children abroad this frequently now. 

Over the past few years the risk of travel disruption has increased. Over a quarter of people questioned in separate Aviva research3 said that their travel plans had been delayed by at least one of the major travel disruptions in 2010, such as the Icelandic volcano in April, the BA strikes of May and June and snow and ice closing airports in the winter.

In response to this, Aviva has launched travel disruption cover, an optional add-on to its existing travel policy. This offers wider cover in the event of strike, industrial action or cancellation due to FCO warnings, pandemics or natural disasters, including earthquakes and tsunamis, preventing your departure from the UK; and also similar cover for abandonment of your holiday if you have to return home early due to any of these events.

In addition, this new section will provide cover for missed connections outside the UK, as well as a 12 hourly benefit for delayed departure outside the UK.

Other new features that Aviva has introduced as standard to its policies include online documents and medical screening, meaning that the whole transaction can be completed online even for people with pre-existing medical conditions. The upper age limits have also been increased from 69 to 74 for annual multi-trip policies and to 79 for single trip policies.

Jerry Finch, travel insurance product manager, said: “It is often said that the world is getting smaller and nowhere is the huge increase in the extent of our travel more apparent than the distances and range of places that people have been to before the age of 16. Children nowadays are better travelled and have experienced a wider range of cultures than ever before.  

“However, we have seen recently that travellers have been affected by an increased risk of disruption to their plans. It is therefore important that people have the right level of cover to ensure that even if their arrangements are hit by unavoidable events, they are not left to pay the price.

“That’s why Aviva’s travel insurance now has the option to include travel disruption cover. This follows the add-on we launched last year to cover airspace closure, an issue that has featured prominently in the news lately, with the recent volcanic activity in Iceland and Chile.”


If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Aviva Press Office:
Sally Richards 01603 684225 / 07789 270677  

The Wriglesworth Consultancy:
Lee Blackwell / Hugh Murphy 020 7427 1400

1 Research carried out by YouGov plc. Total sample size was 1,006 adults with children aged 6-16. Fieldwork was undertaken 17-20 May 2011. The survey was carried out online.

2 Based on flight from Manchester to Orlando (4235 miles x 2) and Manchester to Malaga (1163 miles x 2) = 10,798 miles. Earth’s circumference is 24,901.5 miles at the equator. Distances from

3 Research conducted by Aviva with 200 UK representative respondents who hold (or have held) either annual or single trip travel insurance in the past 24 months. Research carried out 13-17 January 2011.

Notes to editors:  

Aviva is the world’s sixth largest* insurance group. We provide more than 53 million customers with insurance, savings and investment products with total worldwide sales in 2010 of £47.1 billion**.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with 19 million customers and one in three households has a relationship with us. Our combination of life, health and general insurance, together with motoring services from RAC, is unique in its scale and breadth in the UK market.  Customers can choose to buy our products through intermediaries, our corporate partners or from Aviva direct and we have become the partner of choice for many of the UK’s biggest organisations. 

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top 10 most valuable brands and Aviva plc are in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. In 2010 we invested £4.3m into our communities in the UK, which included 1,500 Aviva volunteers giving 24,000 hours for good causes. In addition, our employees gave £600,000 through fundraising and donating. Read our corporate responsibility report at

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life. Find out more at

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* based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2009. 

** at 31 December 2010.

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