Each time public holidays roll around, Singaporeans rush to Changi Airport to get out of the country.
This year, more Singaporeans opted to go abroad for the Christmas and New Year long weekends instead of spending them at home with friends and family. During Chinese New Year, which has traditionally been a time for ethnic Chinese to spend with relatives, more Singaporeans are leaving the country.
This is happening despite the fact that air tickets are so much more expensive over public holidays. Here are three reasons why:
1. Families are getting smaller
One or two generations ago, Singaporean families were a lot bigger. It was not uncommon to have five or more siblings, and as a result people tended to grow up in a dense network filled with aunts, uncles and cousins. Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Christmas and what have you were often huge family affairs.
But now that Singaporean families have shrunk so drastically, children grow up with fewer cousins and people’s relationships with their extended families are weaker. Sticking around in Singapore over public holidays pales in comparison to packing up and leaving on a family vacation.
2. It is cheaper than ever for Singaporeans to travel abroad now
Not only do smaller family units mean it is now cheaper to travel abroad with the kids in tow, it has also gotten so much cheaper for Singaporeans to travel abroad compared to just ten years ago that it can sometimes cost less to take a long holiday than to spend that same amount of time in Singapore.
Compared to 10 years ago, the Singapore dollar is now much stronger relative to the Euro, US dollar, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, Malaysian Ringgit and so on.
At the same time, the cost of living in Singapore has become much higher. Going to Thailand for nice restaurant meals, a haircut and massage would cost less than it would in Singapore.
What’s more, thanks to budget airlines and the fact that airfares have fallen over the years, leaving is more affordable than ever.
3. People see vacation time as an escape from their stressful lives
It’s no secret that Singaporeans work some of the longest hours in the world. The Internet has exacerbated this problem further by ensuring that employees remain contactable 24/7.
The result is that many Singaporeans feel like the only way they can ever relax is to get out of the country. In fact, a recent news report stated that vacation time is a necessity for the modern family, partly because work and school eat up so much of a person’s daily life. In fact, the median household in Singapore spent $2,280 per year on vacations in 2013, with the top 20% of households spending $7,560 annually.
4. Annual leave is relatively scant
It is not uncommon for Singaporeans to use their annual leave only when they go on overseas vacations, not wanting to waste them on anything else.
That might be because we don’t get a whole lot of annual leave here. The minimum annual leave entitlement by law is only 7 days, which is quite a low number compared to the global average.
What’s more, at some workplaces employees face hurdles when trying to get their leave approved or find it difficult to take longer periods of leave.
All of this means that every holiday is precious. If you can save a day or two of annual leave by going on overseas vacations over a public holiday, it could be worth the extra money you spend on air tickets.
Do you often travel over public holidays? Tell us in the comments!