LONDON — International travel can be accomplished in a matter of hours, instead of the days, weeks, or months it once took travelers venturing from one continent to another. Thankfully, communicating with people on the other side of the planet today has never been easier thanks to WiFi-based video chatting and messaging services. Suddenly, the world isn’t as large as it once was. Consequently, it’s becoming more and more common for the average modern family to live hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from each other.
A recent survey of 2,000 British citizens found that the average modern family spans roughly 2,077 miles all over the world. Additionally, one in 10 respondents said they have a family member who lives more than 10,000 miles away.
Now, while international travel has certainly gotten easier, that doesn’t mean it’s exactly a walk in the park. As such, another 10% of respondents said they have some family members who they have not seen in person in over 10 years.
“With international job and studying opportunities becoming increasingly abundant, and it being much easier to travel and settle somewhere else, it’s likely families will continue to grow physically further apart,” comments Karan Khanna, managing director UK&I of InterContinental Hotels Group, the company that commissioned the research, in a statement. “Emotional bonds may remain strong, but it can be hard to find the time to see loved ones who live far away.”
According to the research, immediate family members often find themselves living across two countries. Siblings and cousins were the most likely relatives to be listed as living abroad by respondents.
Almost three in four respondents said their family is far more spread out today than it was 30 years ago, and 51% believe their family members don’t put enough effort into getting the old gang back together.
So, what is holding people back from traveling to see their loved ones? For more than a fifth it comes down to dollars and cents, with this group saying it’s just too expensive. Another one in four said the distance is just “too far.” A little over 10% said they get their fill of family members and relatives by keeping in touch electronically.
However, on the other side of that coin, a third of respondents said they like having family members in other countries because it gives them an excuse to travel. One in four respondents from that group even said they treat such trips as a special occasion or vacation.
One of the busiest travel periods of the year is the holiday season, and 44% of respondents said they travel an average of 885 miles each year to celebrate the holidays with their family. It’s clear that many still value spending the holidays with their family, as 52% said they believe spending time with loved ones during this period is more important than any gift. Also, thee in four think that family time is the single most important aspect of the holiday season.
Interestingly, 16% of respondents said that while they enjoy showing visiting family members around their neck of the woods, it can also be a stressful hosting experience. More than 25% of that group get especially stressed out about having family members stay at their place, and 52% worry their home is too small to comfortably accommodate guests. Meanwhile, a third hate cleaning up their house for guests, and 37% worry about feeding everyone.
For some, though, all of that worry is for nothing; a fifth of respondents who visit far-away family members for the holidays said they usually opt for a hotel anyway.
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.