Caution to the wind: Parents take risks when on holiday

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

If you've ever thrown caution to the wind while on holidays and done something you'd never usually do at home - like jumping on a motorbike without a helmet, or getting a spur-of-the-moment tattoo, then you're not alone. But new Aussie research shows that parents apply the same logic of "holiday invincibility" to their kids, with 84 per cent letting their children take risks while travelling, too.

The survey, commissioned by InsureandGo found that 47 per cent of parents would allow their one-to-three year old to pet an animal overseas, despite the risk of contracting an infectious disease such as rabies.  

For 30 per cent of parents, letting their kids eat street food is another risky behaviour they'd engage in, even though it could make their little ones susceptible to foodborne diseases. Interestingly, it's not just older kids either. While 45 per cent of mums and dads would allow their eight-to-twelve year old to sample street food in another country, 19 per cent indicated they'd take the risk with their one-to-three year old. 

Risky behaviours aside, the survey also found that parents relax their rules in some areas and increase their expectations in others.Two in five would let their toddler skip their daytime nap, while 23 per cent would let them stay up past midnight.

And while a full day's activity might be out of the question here at home, when overseas 29 per cent of parents would expect their little ones to keep up with them on day-long tours.

According to Psychologist Jocelyn Brewer, being in a new environment and culture can lead people to think differently to how they might do in known surrounds or in their daily life. " It's usually a relatively short experience in which you may want to be as absorbed in local culture as you can," Ms Brewer says. "Trying new things, like different foods, or staying up later than usual maybe to see a local cultural show or exhibit is part of exploring what that place might have to offer and seizing the unique opportunity to see the sights and sounds."

And when it comes to parents taking risks with children, it's all about context. "Allowing a toddler to stay up late one night might simply be an opportunity to explore being flexible with routines when there is something unique to experience, discover and explore," she says. "Doing this every night of a 2-week trip might be a different proposition though, so it's about the context of the 'risk' and balancing this with the opportunity that the experience poses."