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3 Trends Impacting Millennial Travel

Millennial money is pouring into the travel industry, the majority of the generation is trying to cross items off their wanderlust bucketlist—and these three trends are impacting where they go…

Considering 96% of Millennials and Gen Z are interested in travel, it’s no wonder they’re changing the rules when it comes to where to go, what to see, when to plan, and how to budget. As Ypulse explored in our recent Generation Wanderlust trend, this generation has lofty goals—they want to visit far off destinations and continually explore new places. The average Millennial will take more than three trips this year—and research from G Adventures, which plans trips targeted at Millennials, says the group isn’t as frugal as one may believe when travelling. With money from the generation pouring into the travel industry, it’s no surprise that brands are racing to keep up with them, as we’ve covered before. We’ve seen chains remodel their locations, begin to focus on incorporating local culture, create social experience marketing, offer exclusive events, create Millennialized spin-off brands, and experiment with more and more advanced technology to impress Millennial travelers. But to keep up, you also need to know the trends that are impacting their decisions. Here are three that are changing up where they go and what they do:


In our Instagrammable world, Millennials drool over destination photos as much as they do food porn on social media. Natural wonders, exotic cities, local watering holes, even #vanlife seems incredibly appealing when it’s depicted in the dreamlike context of vacation, and it’s all available on their feeds, making them aware of new locations to visit, and hungry for their own post-worthy escapes. According to our Instagrammability research, 70% of 18-34-year-old social media users say that it’s important that the places they travel look good in the pictures they post to social media—and 45% say it’s very/extremely important. In fact, almost two in five Millennials tell us that they would be more likely to travel somewhere new if it would make a great looking social media post. The tendency to seek out Instagram-worthy destinations is inspiring some locales to give themselves social-media makeovers to stand out from the crowd. The “Rainbow Village” in Indonesia underwent renovations this year that involved smearing rainbow paint on every available surface in order to attract tourists—and it’s working. The city’s hashtag (#kampungpelangi) already has over 12,000 posts on Instagram, and visitors are mentioning they saw it on social media before visiting. HotelTonight’s CEO says Millennials are also willing to pay a premium for Instagrammable rooms, and would rather spend their stay at unique, one-off hotels than name-brand, cookie cutter chains—another social media-inspired preference.


Millennials are eager to get out of their comfort zones when they explore the world. When it comes to choosing a destination, they prefer locations that are unique to them and bring new experiences and perspectives. According to our Generation Wanderlust research, 78% of 18-34-year-olds would rather go to place they have never been than to a few places that they always revisit. Perhaps more tellingly, 45% would rather stay off the beaten path than see the most popular sites. Because of these preferences, they’re “discovering” new spots on the globe and bringing new popularity to previously remote, out-of-reach, or less-known destinations. For instance, while Africa was once seen “as a luxury experience, [and] out of reach to the young backpacker,” tour operators and travel agents report an increase in interest from young U.S. travelers over the past year. Adventures, unique experiences, and philanthropic opportunities make it an ideal destination for Millennials, and tour companies creating more budget-friendly options for safaris and other trips are likely driving the increase. Mexican wine country is another example. Cheaper, artsier, and arguably more authentic than Napa or Sonoma, Valle de Guadelupe is quickly accruing acclaim with twenty and thirtysomethings, who Ypulse has found love their wine. The small strip of vineyards and restaurants is shifting to suit their needs with food trucks, modern art, and even Uber for wine tours, when just a decade ago, the area didn’t even have the necessary roads to facilitate tourism. One winery owner observes, “What used to happen in this part of the world was that no one had anything to do and now everyone has appointments every hour.”


In an effort to attract young travelers who favor experiences over luxury goods, cruise companies are adding “surf simulators, rock climbing walls and spin and yoga classes, as well as onboard cocktail mixologists and DJs,” to their ships. According to the Independent, U by Uniworld is capping their cruise passengers’ age at 45, and offering a slew of Millennial-friendly amenities—including dorm-like quarters, silent discos, yoga, and classes to learn how to make your favorite, over-priced craft cocktail. Excursions to the places they pass are encouraged and, at the end of a long day of painting and drinking wine, there’s a DJ party. Shareability is also key: Uniworld’s U European river cruise targets 18-40-year-olds by promoting “immersive and adventurous experiences along the Instagram and Snapchat-worthy rivers of Europe.” Layering experiences on top of experiences isn’t just happening in the cruise industry. In its quest to be “one-stop shop for the next generation of travelers,” Airbnb has launched “Experiences”—trips that can include workshops, classes, day-on-the-life adventures, and social good. 

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