Jun 06 2019
Long gone are the days of an annual trip to the same beach, lake, or mountain. Generation Wanderlust is taking travel to the next level by seeking out experiences in every corner of the earth they can reach. Our Experiencification trend found that possessions are less important to young people than building up a bank of memorable experiences. Now, their borderless mindset means going to new and exciting destinations for those experiences has become a rite of passage and coffee table talking point. When Gen Z and Millennials tell us where they want to travel most, mentions of being “unique” and “exotic” are often paired with their top picks. Plus, technology has evolved alongside their interest in far-flung locales, with GPS and translation apps letting them explore places that would have been much more difficult for their parents to traverse. Not to mention that social media has given them a glimpse of the world far beyond the glossy covers of National Geographic into travelers’ real (albeit filtered) lives abroad, filling their feeds with drool-worthy destinations.
For these young generations, even practical purchases like houses and cars might not be as important as experiences. Cheddar reports that nearly half of the young generations are cutting back on daily expenses to afford to travel more, and even as they age up and have families, Culture Trip predicts they’ll put off purchasing a house in favor of funding experiences. YPulse’s recent travel survey found nearly three in five would choose a one-week paid trip over a new car.
This shift in interest and spending has signaled a flurry of new trends in the travel space, ranging from Airbnbs’ and hostels’ rise as viable accommodations to buying a van and hitting the road to live that #vanlife. Here are five new travel trends that we can attribute to young consumers’ penchant for new experiences:
Solo travel is trending among Millennial women. Travel Leaders Group tells Real Simple that 36% of Americans planning to travel in 2019 are going solo, and tour group organizer Wild Frontiers reports that 65% of their solo travelers are female. YPulse’s recent travel survey confirms that 25% of Millennial woman took a trip alone in the past year, up 5% from 2018. To help young women feel safe on the road, SCMP reports that two twenty-something females teamed up to create the Travel à la Carte app. Meant to be female Millennials’ go-to resource for solo travel, the app lets users create budgets and book travel, accommodations, and experiences with a single payment, in addition to other useful features. A variation on solo trips is “drop-in” traveling, which PureWow explains means booking your trip first, and inviting friends later. It has the spontaneity of a solo trip (and depending on people’s schedules, may still be a solo trip) but gives friends the chance to meet up abroad sans-commitment.
Millennial travelers are going off the beaten path to far-flung locales, with most saying their top reason for being interested in taking a trip is to experience different cultures and foods. Thirty percent of Millennials told us they took a trip in the past year because they’ve never been there before, and 90% are interested in exploring other countries. Companies are catering to this passport-in-hand generation accordingly, with the Skift reporting that airlines are expanding their routes to lesser-known locations. United recently connected major U.S. cities with Cape Town, South America; Papeete, Tahiti; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Auckland, New Zealand. A unique and remote location has also topped our list of where Gen Z & Millennials most want to travel to for three years, and that’s Japan. The generations can thank tech companies for helping them traverse areas that may have been too difficult for their parents to navigate without the aid of language translation apps and downloadable maps, reports Uproxx.
Young travelers are also going off the literal beaten path by opting to camp more often, according to Curbed. KOA found that 1.4 million households went on their first camping trip last year, and 56% were 22-37-years-old. The young demo is roughing it more than any other generation, accounting for 41% of total campers—a 7% jump since 2014. Of course, “roughing it” could be an overstatement: half of all campers said they were interested in trying “glamping.” According to our Travel Topline, 67% of Gen Z and Millennials are interested in taking a camping trip, and a similar percentage (64%) are interested in luxury camping. Interest rises 1% and 2%, respectively, when looking at Millennials alone. And KOA Campgrounds is seeing the trend reflected in their revenues, which Forbes reports have been steadily rising for the past seven years. Sites like Hipcamp are also seeing success digitizing young campers’ booking experience in a bid to become “the AirBnb for nature.”
While Millennials are known for their love of travel, they’re also notorious for underutilizing their work-given vacation days. So, how can these trends co-exist? Meet the “micro-cation.” Per Travel Pulse, Allianz Global Assistance reports that 72% of Millennials took a trip that lasted less than four nights within the last year, compared to 69% of Gen X and 60% of Boomers. While they may be shorter, these trips are also being taken more often: 29% of Millennials took at least three in the past year. (Our travel survey confirms Millennials plan to take an average of roughly three trips in the next year.) Some of the top reasons for opting for quick trips are having limited vacation time at work and wanting to save money. Travel & Leisure reports that an exec at the company explained in statement: “The days of the ubiquitous week-long summer vacation may be disappearing, but we’re happy to see that Americans, especially Millennials, are eager to travel more frequently.”
As everyone from The Outline to Outside reports on the natural world’s war with Instagram, a new spotlight has been shone on the price of young travelers’ adventurous streak. Instagrammable destinations especially are in crisis as trending geotags cause an influx of tourists that not only strain the environment but also the local culture and peoples. Two-thirds of Millennials & Gen Z told us they’re interested in taking an eco-tour or trying out environmentally-responsible travel, jumping to 70% among Millennials. To teach these curious, young travelers how to prevent further damage, some new influencers are giving unfiltered views of life in their homes, like @mimiincuba, others offer advice on @hownottotravellikeabasicbitch, and some seek to show diversity in travel like @blackgirlstraveltoo, reports Refinery29. And Instagram account @publiclandshatesyou has taken a harsher approach on our viral list, reprimanding anyone who crushes the delicate California poppy underfoot (or other fragile environments) for the perfect post.
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