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These Are Millennials’ 15 Travel Essentials

What would the wanderlust generation not leave home without when packing for a trip? We asked, and the top response may surprise you…

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. We explored Millennials’ desire to explore the world in-depth in our recent Generation Wanderlust trend, and found plenty of support for their reputation as a group of globe trotters (or aspiring globe trotters). According to Ypulse’s research, four in five Millennials (18-34-year-olds) have a bucket list of places to travel and things to experience, and one in four have a travel-related tattoo or want to get one. A full nine in ten Millennials plan to take a trip in the next year—and next year, the average Millennial traveler will take three trips. So, in short, any brands with ties to travel need to keep up with the desires, preferences, and behaviors of this generation.

This generation has lofty goals—they want to visit far off destinations and continually explore new places. A recent survey from Realty Mogul found that almost half of 18-34-year-olds would “rather spend their money on traveling than buying a house.” We’ve told you the top locales in the world they are interested in visiting, and some of the big trends impacting their travel choices, but our travel research has also uncovered some of the more nitty-gritty details around their planning, from the top reasons they’re taking trips to where they look for travel tips, and how far in advance they start to plan. We also wanted to look inside their suitcases, and find out the items they think are most essential when exploring the world, and escaping their everyday. So we asked 18-34-year-olds, “Imagine you’re packing for your next trip. Other than the essentials (phone, ID, clothes, toothbrush, etc.) what are the five items you would not leave home without?”* They told us their biggest travel essentials, and we’ve ranked their top 15 here:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of items that Millennials consider travel essentials—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The lists are ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

What Are Their Top Travel Essentials?


  1. Camera
  2. Book
  3. Snacks / Food
  4. Laptop
  5. Headphones
  6. Charger
  7. Sunglasses
  8. Money
  9. Comfortable Shoes
  10. Makeup
  11. Journal
  12. Sunscreen
  13. Guidebook / Itinerary
  14. Water bottle
  15. Pillow

They truly are photo-obsessed. A camera topped the list of items that 18-34-year-olds said they would not leave home without when packing for their next trip. Now, remember, we also told them that these are items beyond the essentials—including their phones, which we know are the de facto cameras of most of the generation. But the fact that they many still consider a camera a travel essential speaks to just how much they value capturing, and sharing, their experiences. We know they’re valuing these experiences, and often choosing to spend on them, over physical belongings—and so the photo becomes their ultimate souvenir. Evidence of the investment they’ve made, and some of the only “tangible” takeaways that they have.

Tech features prominently on the list, with laptop, headphones, and charger all coming up in the top ten—but interestingly, the number two travel essential for the group is decidedly non-digital: a book. And both male and female Millennials consider it a high-priority travel item: 

Book was actually the number one travel essential among Millennial females, who have been credited for giving the publishing world a nice boost. Males’ and females’ top travel essential lists were fairly aligned, with males slightly more likely to name money as a travel essential, and females more likely to name headphones. 

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.