Are we spoiling our kids with travel?

I’ll never forget the first time I went overseas.

It was a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

I remember picking up priceless pieces of freedom, burying them in my backpack.

I remember feeling flushed with independence, as a young woman from a new country in an old land.

But mostly, I remember how proud I was to save up enough money, after three years working full time, for the airfares.

I first left these shores at the age of 23.

Our son had his first overseas trip when he was one year old; our daughter, six months.

My, how things have changed.

Expedia’s annual State of the Nation report reveals Australians are “taking off earlier and travelling farther and more frequently”.

“Kids today … are receiving their first passport on average at two-and-a-half years old,” according to the report.

This is in stark contrast to the average adult, who got their first passport at the age of 17.

More than half of the nation’s children (54 per cent) now own a passport.

Urban kids get them earlier than their country counterparts.

There are many factors feeding this trend.

One is the price of airfares, which has dropped by 20 per cent over the past three years, driven by low-cost carriers.

Another is the rise in use of mobile devices, making research and booking easier.

A third is globalisation: connectivity makes the world seem a whole lot smaller.

So, where are we all going?

For parents, beach holidays are still No. 1, especially if you’ve got a baby or toddler.

Outdoor holidays (think bush-bashing) are best when the kids are in primary school, while 60 per cent travel to a big city if they have high-schoolers.

Internationally, New Zealand is the preferred destination for parents of children under 12, while the United States and Canada tie for top spot among teens.

And, not surprisingly, parents are more likely than those without children to have an overnight stopover when travelling overseas, so they don’t scream and swear as much – er, I mean, so they can combat jetlag.

According to the survey, Hawaii is the place parents would most like to stop over (sorry, Singapore!).

The only problem now is how to keep kids grounded.

After all, how can they appreciate the simple things in life if they’re jet-setting around the world?

Sure, travel is the university of life, but they need to learn gratitude as well.

“We didn’t get to go overseas until we were adults!” I rant, repeatedly. “You kids don’t know how lucky you are.”

This segues into something about living in a shoebox in the middle of the road, from a Monty Python sketch.

“Yeah, mum, you’re old, get over it,” one of them inevitably replies.

So, our next trip is going to be an old-fashioned one: driving up the Pacific Highway in a motorhome.

Sure, it isn’t as glamorous as flying to the French Alps, but it might make the kids appreciate the kind of holidays we had growing up.

After all, there’s a first time for everything.

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