Government estimates place Shared Parental Leave take up at a disappointing 2%2. However, recent research from leading travel insurer Columbus Direct suggests interest amongst parents and parents to be is rising thanks to ‘familymoons’.
Over a third (34%) of those surveyed say they’ve already taken a ‘familymoon’, and this is set to rise. Two fifths (41%) say they are planning to use Shared Parental Leave in future, and a fifth (20%) would use the time to go travelling as a new family. One in 20 (5%) say they would set off exploring for their full allowance.
The data also reveals that ‘familymoons’ are encouraging more men to consider Shared Parental Leave. Three quarters of respondents (74%) feel there is still a stigma around men taking time off to look after children. However, almost half of men (47%) believe colleagues, friends and family would understand them taking time to go travelling with their new family, rather than be a stay at home Dad. A quarter (25%) of respondents wrongly believed their companies can turn them down for Shared Parental Leave, a legal right since 2015.
For those that have taken advantage of Shared Parental Leave the advantages are clear. Lee and his wife Erica from London used their Shared Parental Leave to travel for a month with their new baby boy around Croatia. Lee says, “Using our Shared Parental Leave to go travelling was a great decision, it’s unlikely we’ll ever get time off together like that again and seeing our little boy in the sea at such a young age was amazing. Even before we realised we were lucky to have a happy child we booked our flights, thinking that the sunshine would help. I would say travelling with a new-born is a lot easier than having a toddler – at least a new-born can’t run around!”
Lee comments, “I was lucky, my work were really supportive of my decision. I always knew I wanted to take time off when we had children and my work and friends were even more excited for me when I told them about our coming adventure.”
Michelle and her husband Dan from Suffolk travelled around Hong Kong & New Zealand for six weeks with their eighteen month old daughter and strongly support taking time from work to travel as a new family, “Dan and I met whilst travelling, so to take off and see the world when Ella came into our lives made total sense, we’ve created memories that will last forever. We didn’t know much about Shared Parental Leave at the time, if we had we would have applied to use it. Next baby we’re definitely going to take advantage, how often is it that both of you can get 6 months off work together!”
Those surveyed say there are many benefits to using Shared Parental Leave together, 36% say it means both parents can bond with their new-born equally, 29% creating lifelong memories, 24% spending time together as a couple, 24% said it’s a rare opportunity to have an extended period off work, 10% highlighted the fact that it’s cheaper to travel with an infant, while 5% said it means escaping uninvited in-laws and well-wishers.
However, parents and parents-to-be did report some concerns around travelling with a new-born, such as lack of access to an English speaking doctor while travelling (22%), and the logistics of travelling e.g. what documents and insurance you need to travel with a new-born (19%). When given a list of five possible documents needed to travel with a new baby, over half of people got the answers wrong – 51% believed you needed a birth certificate and 41% a letter from your GP declaring your baby fit to travel. Nearly two thirds (63%) didn’t know a new-born needs a travel insurance policy, despite their young age, and 28% didn’t know their child would need its own passport.
Carolina Vicente, Travel Insurance Expert at Columbus Direct:
“It’s exciting to see new parents maximising their Shared Parental Leave to jet off on the trip of a lifetime. We hope we see more people exercising their legal right to time off after they have children. It’s an amazing chance to turn the life changing journey of starting a family into an even bigger adventure
“Before packing their bags parents should make sure they’re fully prepared for travelling with a new-born, particularly when it comes to insurance. A new-born does need a policy of their own or as part of a family policy. It’s also worth exploring the added extras that some insurance providers offer that can help give peace of mind when so far from home. All Columbus policies come with 24/7 access to a UK GP via our partners Babylon.”
The research also revealed the most popular dream destinations for a ‘Familymoon’:
- New Zealand
- The Maldives
- Costa Rica
Columbus Direct has put together a downloadable pack for anyone wanting to find out more on ‘Familymoons’, visit: https://www.columbusdirect.com/pdfs/COL/familymoon.pdf
5 top tips for travelling with a little one
- Plan ahead – planning really is everything when it comes to travelling with babies. Make sure you properly research the hotel and area you’re staying in to ensure it really is child friendly. Take care to check with your GP, making sure your baby has all the necessary vaccinations for the country or countries you’re travelling to and that any country-specific vaccinations are safe to be administered alongside the standard ante-natal vaccinations. Investigate accommodation options too, whilst a family hotel should have all the necessary amenities for children and may even be kitted out with a baby crèche, there are alternatives that may offer better value for money. An Airbnb for example, gives you a sense of stability of coming home to something that is truly your ‘own’ space after a day’s exploring and offers more privacy to spend time truly ‘en famille.’ The ability to cook for yourself is also great for cost-cutting when on holiday, and helps placate any fussier eaters in the family.
- Look into cheaper airfare options – most airlines will offer some kind of discount for little ones aged 2 and under. This tends to be a 90% discount on fares pre-tax for children under 2 who do not have their own seat. Be sure to check with what your airline can offer you as it could save you a considerable amount.
- Get a medical plan in place – babies’ health is notoriously unpredictable and what may seem like an innocent cold can potentially develop into something more serious. This can be scary if you’re away from a medical system you know and a language you understand. With Columbus Direct travel insurance, you’ll have access to a UK doctor as part of your standard travel insurance package via Babylon Health, meaning you can focus on getting out and about with your little ones and be confident help is at hand should you need it.
- Don’t miss out on experiences – there’s no reason why travelling with a small child should dampen your spirit of adventure. You can always take it in turns doing things like diving and snorkelling while one of you watches the baby, and Columbus Direct Travel Insurance covers most activities as standard so there’s no excuse not to do all the things you’ve always been too busy to do.
- Pick up passports – your baby will need their own so make sure this is arranged in plenty of time as they can take 3-4 weeks to arrive, but can be applied for as soon as they’re born. In terms of the photo used, your baby will have to be alone in the picture but doesn’t have to be awake so try and catch baby when asleep. If your baby doesn’t share your surname, you may also need to take along proof that you’re related, such as a birth certificate and a letter from his/her other parent.