How Millennials Travel Differently

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For the past year or so, everyone has been obsessed with the “millennials.” Who they are, their habits, their work ethic (or lack thereof), their sense of entitlement…

A millennial is officially defined as someone who is 18-34 years of age (or, born between 1980 and the late 1990s). I technically fall into this category, having been born in 1986 – though I identify more with the “,” who experienced the advent of the Internet during our formative years.

But nevermind that. Back to millennials. This generation is of particular interest to a lot of researchers and people who conduct surveys and studies because it's the generation that (theoretically, at least), should be spending money. It's also a generation completely different from generations before it like Generation X (35-49 years old) and the Baby Boomers (50-67 years old) because of that whole Internet thing again and how much technology has changed the world we live in.

This extends, of course, to travel, too.

 recently commissioned a nationwide survey on travel preferences among consumers 18-67 years of age (that includes millennials, Gen X'ers, and Baby Boomers) who stay in a hotel at least five nights per year for business, pleasure or both.

Most of the findings come as no surprise to someone who travels as often as I do. Things like:

Millennial travelers seek thrilling adventures and nightlife over leisurely vacations abroad.

According to the survey, 78% of millennials are more interested in thrilling, active vacations than lazy trips.

As a millennial traveler myself, this makes perfect sense. I would much rather be out walking my feet off in a new city or learning to surf than laying on a beach or sitting on a tour bus all day. Maybe later in life I'll like those “lazy” holidays more, but now I definitely prefer to seek out new adventures and challenge myself when I'm traveling.

Millennial travelers are more likely than other generations to define international vacation “hot spots” by celebrity and pop culture influence.

Again, this really comes as no surprise. Millennials grew up in the times of MTV and Facebook and Netflix; a time where plugging in to pop culture was simple and instantaneous. It's much easier now to follow your favorite celebrities (without physically stalking them) than it used to be – if you see Beyonce post a gorgeous photo from a hotel in Bali on Instagram, it's simple to see it and be inspired to go there yourself.

Conversely, older generations aren't as likely to rely on pop culture for travel inspiration. According to the survey, 34% of Baby Boomers, for example, are most likely to define a destination as a hot spot if it was highlighted in a notable travel or lifestyle publication. (And they say print is dead!)

Nightlife is key.

In the survey,  found that 28% of millennials are more likely than Gen X'ers (15%) and Boomers (6%) to consider the local nightlife when choosing a particular destination abroad to visit.

The number of backpacker bars and pub crawls all around the world points to this being true. Younger generations are almost always more interested in nightlife, whether traveling or at home.

 

One thing that I found surprising from this survey though?

Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to travel with a purpose as 84% say they would travel abroad to participate in volunteer activities.

That is surprising to me – and awesome. Millennials are more interested in giving back to places as they travel, which the world definitely needs more of as tourism becomes less and less responsible. I'm not saying everyone should go volunteer at an orphanage on their travels (actually, you should ), but getting involved and giving back is never a bad idea.

Some ideas for you: volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, donate some time to plant trees in Scotland, help protect sea turtle nests in Mexico, or go work on an organic farm in New Zealand. Just do your research beforehand and be smart about any voluntourism you decide to participate in — especially if it involves people or animals that could easily be exploited!

 

And, if you're a more visual person, here are some of these findings (and more) in infographic form:

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Did any of these findings surprise YOU? Do you think you travel differently as a millennial than people from other generations?

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"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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