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NA vs WE: These Are Their Top Reasons For Travelling

Gen Z and Millennials in both regions love travelling, but their reasons for taking trips are not exactly the same…


  • Virtually all young consumers in both Western Europe and North America like to travel, confirming these gens are the wanderlust generations
  • Young consumers in Western Europe are more likely to be travelling to experience different cultures
  • Gen Z and Millennials in North America travel more to bond with friends and family than in WE

YPulse has long told you how Gen Z and Millennials are the wanderlust generations, for whom travelling is a very part important of their lives. Data from YPulse’s WE Travel Report shows that gens in both Western Europe and North America want to travel, with 93% of them saying they are interested in doing so, the exact same number for both regions. This finding confirms the fact that going on trips is a global trend among young consumers. YPulse’s research also reveals that Gen Z and Millennials in both regions travel the same amount, with an average of 3 trips taken in the last year in both regions.

While travel is an important part of Gen Z and Millennials’ culture globally, when it comes to the reasons why these gens want to travel, young North Americans and Europeans are hitting the road for different reasons. Brands need to know these differences between young consumers in Western Europe and North America to target these demographics appropriately. Here is the comparison of their answers to the question, “Why are you interested in taking trips and travelling to different destinations?”:

Young Europeans want to experience different cultures

The top reason young Europeans want to travel is to experience different cultures, and they are 9pts more likely than their North American peers to say so. Europe is a region that allows young consumers to immerse themselves in a different culture, and climate, in just a few hours’ flight or even train ride. Young Europeans are growing up in an ecosystem that encourages them to travel between different countries. For example, the European Union is spending around €5 billion per year on the Erasmus program, which allows college students to study in another European country for six months. More recently, many governments have been trying to help young consumers travel to other European countries: Spain has announced plans to pay for half of the cost of Interrail passes for young Spanish this summer while France and Germany are giving away more than 60K train tickets to encourage young people to travel between the two countries this summer. True, these policies aim to revive the tourism sector in the aftermath of the pandemic, but they also highlight the reality that young Europeans are exposed to diverse cultures and are encouraged to travel to foreign countries.

Relaxing and escaping from their daily life is a priority for young consumers in both regions

Three in five Gen Z and Millennials in North America and in Western Europe say they travel because they want to relax and escape their everyday lives. It’s the top reason why young North Americans want to travel, and the second among young consumers in Western Europe. The fact that these gens are travelling to unwind reflects the importance that mental health has in their lives. Young consumers see mental health as equally important as their physical health, and they are constantly looking for opportunities to put their minds at ease, including when they’re travelling.

YPulse’s data from our Travel Report also shows that an increasing number of Gen Z and Millennials are very / extremely interested in wellness retreats, and this is true in both Western Europe and North America. Many tour operators are now featuring wellness-integrated travel plans in their catalog to cater to the needs of young consumers who want to unwind while travelling, and according to experts in the industry, self-treatment is one of the biggest travelling trends in 2023. YPulse informed you that an increasing number of ski resorts in France are facing a crisis with the impending shortage of snow due to global warming. As a result, these destinations are pivoting their offerings to tap into the new wellness retreat trends. These ski resorts now include a wide range of wellness activities such as epigenetics, stem-cell beauty treatments, low-ego yoga, spa, saunas, and even “ski sophrology,” the new practice where mindfulness meets skiing.

Young consumers in NA are more likely to travel to bond with friends and family

A quarter of North American Gen Z and Millennials travel because they want to bond with their friends while in Western Europe, only 16% do so—a significant +10pts difference. When it comes to bonding with family, the difference between the two regions is even bigger: 18% of young Europeans say they travel to bond with family members, while 32% in North America do so.

This finding does not mean that young consumers in Western Europe won’t consider travelling with their friends and family. In our WE Travel survey, YPulse asked young consumers with whom they like to travel the most, and family members and loved ones are on top of the list for young Europeans. Moreover, when given the choice between “travelling alone” or “travelling with others,” four in five European Gen Z and Millennials choose to travel with other people. So the fact that young consumers in North America are more likely to be travelling to bond with friends and family than their Western European peers doesn’t that young Europeans don’t want to travel with their friends and family. It’s just that when it comes to travelling, they have in mind other things—such as experiencing new cultures, or being in different weather—before bonding with their loved ones.