The changing face of family travel

From Kos to Kyoto: how the modern family holiday has changed

I remember 2 family holidays as a child; one was road tripping around Scandinavia, camping with the family as a very young boy (in truth I’m not sure how much I remember and how much comes from photographs), the other was a trip to Fuerteventura as a 10year old. By comparison my kids have been road-tripping around the UK, and Europe, with summer-long yearly pilgrimages to Riga to see their family there.

CaxtonFX have done some really interesting research into the changing habits of families when it comes to travel and holidays, and in this era of being able to book a hotel from the roadside via an app, it really rings true!

Are package holidays dead? Probably not, but as more millennials become parents and take their smartphone habits with them, the Thomas Cooks of this world are going to have to adapt their models for sure!


The modern family holiday is a world away from what it was a generation ago and today’s children have no idea how good they’ve got it, according to new research out today from Caxton, the travel money specialists.

Today’s parents[ii] will typically take their offspring away on an average of two[iii] holidays a year and one of these will be overseas, whereas they themselves were lucky to be taken abroad at all as children[iv]. In fact, today’s children are now twice as likely to go on a foreign holiday as their parents were.

In 1997, the annual holiday would be booked at the travel agent in advance, whereas now parents often book online at the last-minute and many don’t know where they’re going until a few days before[v]. A quarter (26%) of parents say their children don’t know how good they have it when it comes to family holidays.

Not only are today’s children going on more foreign holidays than their parents did, they also go to far more exotic destinations. Official statistics[vi] show that twenty years ago, 82% of foreign travel was to Europe, with the most popular countries being France and Spain. Since then travel to destinations outside Europe has increased 70%. In particular, travel to Central and South America has tripled with travel to the Far East and Asia, and the Middle East doubling during this time. Today European destinations continue to be popular but we are travelling more and venturing further afield as we benefit from cheaper air travel.

The way we spend our holidays has also changed dramatically. Package holidays were the staple of foreign travel for all Brits abroad and this generally meant being flown into hotels and campsites – full of other British families! As a child, you would have to make friends with other children staying at the resort as you had no connection with your friends back home in the pre-mobile era – unless you sent a postcard or found a payphone.

Package holidays continue to be popular for those travelling with children but as independent travel increases, today’s parents want to give their children a more authentic experience. One in five (19%) parents say they like to take their children ‘travelling’ so they can explore the world rather than just going on holiday. One in seven (14%) say they prefer to get away from the tourist area and go off the beaten track to have a more authentic experience with their family.

While Britain negotiates its future outside of the European Union, the next generation is already experiencing a wider world on holiday. Children are now growing up visiting America, Asia and Africa and are doing it in a more connected way.

The Caxton prepaid currency card can be loaded with 15 major currencies and is accepted all over the world. It is perfect for those travelling with children as it is safe, secure and balances can be checked online at any time.

Rupert Lee Browne, Chief Executive Officer of Caxton, comments: “The way that we travel has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. It’s not just about Europe any more, today’s families often go away multiple times throughout the year and are venturing further afield. People are choosing to go to far-flung destinations, even with their children, that were once just a name in an atlas.

“In the last two years, the pound has fallen 19% against the Euro and so popular Eurozone destinations such as France and Spain are not as affordable as they used to be; by contrast Asia and South Africa are offering much better value for money. If you are planning a family holiday it’s worth doing your research before you go and getting a good exchange rate on your foreign exchange so you can make the most of your holiday while you’re away.”

Holidays then vs now:

In 1997 In 2017
Most popular destination[vii] France Spain
£1 bought this many US Dollars[viii] 1.63 1.25
£1 bought this many Euros[ix] Not yet in circulation 1.16
Last-minute bargain bought on Teletext The internet
Cheap accommodation was Staying with distant relatives Airbnb
Cheap eats Bringing a packed lunch Street food markets
Latest gadget Kodak digital camera Nintendo Switch
Getting a family photo Ask someone to take the photo Selfie stick
Keeping in touch Postcard Social media
Working on holiday No chance! Email
Hotel mod cons TV in the bedroom Wi-fi and 4G reception

About Caxton

Caxton is an international payments company, founded, run and regulated in the UK. Launched in 2002 by Rupert Lee-Browne, with £25,000 start-up capital, the business is now forecast to turnover £1 billion this year. Lee-Browne’s model has been to undercut traditional providers while offering higher levels of customer service.

Caxton pioneered the use of online platforms and pre-paid currency cards to offer customers simpler, quicker, safer and more cost-effective international payments. A Caxton Card allows customers real-time management of multiple currencies, with free international ATM usage and the ability to buy, hold and sell currency at locked-in exchange rates.

The business was recently awarded a 5-star rating by MoneyFacts for its customer focus, and holds a 9/10 “Excellent” score on Trustpilot, an independent customer reviews site.


[i] Source: Caxton. Based on rates from March 2015 to March 2017.

[ii] Source: Opinium. Based on parents with children aged under 18.

[iii] Source: Opinium. Parents tend to take their children on an average of 2.2 holidays a year now.

[iv] Source: Opinium. 69% of adults surveyed didn’t go on holiday abroad as a child.

[v] Source: Opinium. 42% of parents tend to book the family holiday online now.

[vi] Source: Latest ONS data: ONS’s Travel Trends series which comes from the International Passenger Survey:https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/leisureandtourism/articles/traveltrends/2015. Total number of visits outside Europe between 1997 and 2015 has increased by 70% (8,212,000 visits to 13,977,000). Travel to Central & South America increased between 1997 and 2015 by 217% (257,000 visits to 815,000). Travel to Far East & Asia increased between 1997 and 2015 by 128% (1,464,000 visits to 3,336,000). Travel to Middle East increased between 1997 and 2015 by 104% (414,000 visits to 846,000).

[vii] Source: ONS International Passenger Survey (latest data available).

[viii] Source: Caxton. Based on the average for the year.

[ix] Source: Caxton. Based on the average for the year.

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