The largest human migration for 2014 is set to begin, as hundreds of millions of migrant workers in China head home for Lunar New Year. Car rental companies said business has increased this year. Buying train tickets to go home during the festive season is notoriously challenging in China. 258 million passenger trips are expected within the 40-day peak season this year, an increase of some 8 per cent from the same period last year.
To escape the crowds, those who can afford it are opting for a more comfortable ride home. Sun Peng has been working in Beijing for the past three years. For the first time, he has opted to rent a car to travel back to his hometown in Liaoning's Anshan - a six- hour drive away. He said: "After experiencing the agony of grabbing train tickets in previous years, I decided to go for car rental this year. It is slightly more costly but still within my budget. In addition my family members (also working in Beijing) can ride together which makes it pretty convenient."
Car rental companies said business has increased between 10 per cent and 20 per cent from the same period last year. Renting an average car costs between US$20 and US$50 a day, excluding petrol and toll charges. Renting a luxury car such an Audi or BMW though, could cost up to US$350 a day.
Li Xu, manager at eHi Car Services, said: "When renting a car to go back home, customers generally choose models which are more spacious so they can load it with the many items they are bringing back for New Year celebrations. It's more convenient that way.
" With family reunions a key focus for this holiday, many are going all out to get home to celebrate. In general, employees with less than 10 years of experience are entitled to only five days of annual leave. Many Chinese companies do not encourage employees to take annual leave. This makes the week-long public holiday over Lunar New Year a rare chance to go home, which further explains the travel rush.