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84% of parents allow under 12s to take part in potentially risky activities when travelling

March 23, 2019 Statistics & Trends No Comments

Forget helicopter parenting. Concerning new data reveals that 84 per cent of Aussie parents would allow their kids – even toddlers – to partake in a range of activities when travelling, which are potentially risky, or might be considered too much for them to endure.

The findings come from a survey of an independent, nationally representative panel of 1133 Australian parents[1] commissioned by the world’s largest online travel insurer, InsureandGo (, which covers an average of 2 million travellers globally each year.

In the survey, parents were asked if they would allow their kids to take part in any of nine scenarios or activities when travelling. The surveyed situations included visiting developing countries, to eating street food overseas, to keeping up with parents on full-day tours. They were asked which, if any, they would allow their children to do at different age ranges: one-to-three, four-to-seven, and eight-to-12.

Despite many farm animals and wildlife carrying infectious diseases – dogs, cats and monkeys can carry viruses such as Rabies[2] which are spread through bites, scratches or licks on broken skin – more than half (56 per cent) of parents would allow their child to pet an animal while on holiday. Forty-seven (47) per cent would allow their one-to-three year old, 58 per cent would allow a four-to-seven year old, and 68 per cent would allow an eight-to-12 year old to pet an animal.

The survey also reveals that a surprising 30 per cent of Aussie parents would let their child eat street food in a foreign country. A concerning 19 per cent would allow a one-to-three year old to eat street food, 27 per cent would allow a four-to-seven year old, and 45 per cent would allow an eight-to-12 year old to do so. Street food can leave children, in particular, susceptible to foodborne diseases, as they do not have fully developed immune systems to fight viruses and illness. In fact, the emergence of street food consumption by locals in the South-East Asia region has been identified as a factor that has contributed to an increase in foodborne illnesses in this area[3].

While most parents enforce naptime for their kids at home, two in five Aussie parents (41 per cent) would let their one-to-three year old child skip daytime naps when travelling. Twenty-nine (29) per cent of respondents admitted they would have their child keep up with them on full day tours, and one in four (23 per cent) would even let their toddler stay up past midnight. Skipping daytime naps and keeping a child up through odd hours can be exhausting on a child’s health and wellbeing – particularly when travelling – which can leave them more open to getting sick during this crucial time of physical and mental development.[4] Children aged between one to three require at least 12-14 hours of sleep at night and an additional one to two hours of rest in the afternoon.[5]

Spokesperson at InsureandGo, Jonathan Etkind says: “There are potential health risks on family holidays, particularly when travelling overseas. Things that may seem harmless can result in distress and, at worst, harm being done. So it’s important that families have the right travel insurance to cover every member of the family and type of illness that may arise. InsureandGo’s comprehensive policies offer complimentary cover to dependent children under 18 when travelling with parents.” 

InsureandGo shares its top four tips for travelling with kids: 

  1. Ensure you check for necessary immunisations and travel warnings. Prior to travelling, check with your doctor and the Smartraveller website to ensure you and your family have all necessary immunisations for the destination you’re travelling to. It’s also important to be aware of any potential risks or travel warnings there may be in place for your destination.
  2. Consider a travel insurance policy that includes free cover for your children. Purchasing a travel insurance policy that includes children for free saves you money. InsureandGo’s single and family policies provide cover for any dependent under the age of 18 when travelling with parents, and many activities are also included in your policy. Check your policy’s product disclosure statement to see the list of activities that are covered in your policy and which ones aren’t.
  3. Create meal routines for children when travelling. Unfamiliar places often involve introducing new foods and eating at different times – disrupting your child’s eating habits. Having set meal times can reduce any fussy antics and minimise the chances of needing to buy food on the go which may have questionable hygiene standards. Ensure children wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before eating, and only drink bottled water to minimise illness.
  4. Pack activities to keep your child entertained. Keeping kids amused throughout the day when travelling can be challenging, so it’s best to come prepared to avoid fights or tears. Packing toys, colouring books and small games is a good way to keep them entertained. Consider having a separate pack for each child, and keeping one new item stashed away for when they start to become difficult. 
Activities parents would allow their kids to do while on holiday 1-3-year-old 4-7-year-old 8-12-year-old
Pet an animal 47% 58% 63%
Skip daytime naps 41% 56% N/A
Expect your child to keep up with you on full day tours 29% 44% 68%
Travel with you to a developing country (e.g. Vietnam, Indonesia) 27% 33% 53%
Occasionally stay up past midnight 23% 33% 63%
Eat street food in another country 19% 27% 45%
None of the above 25% 15% 9%

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