Millennials are the largest generation to date, making up 31.5% of the population at 7.7 billion people. Amazingly, this generation has an estimated $200 billion of spending power, making them an ideal demographic for travel companies.
We compiled all the data available about millennial travel into one easy-to-read report, which you'll find below. You'll learn how millennials are changing the way travel works by caring more about solo travel, cultural experiences, planning their own itineraries, ignoring cheap stock photography and relying on influencers and social media to make travel decisions.
And all of this is mainly done on their smart phones, from researching their travels to booking their flights and hotels!
Essential Millennials Travel Statistics
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Where Do Millennials Enjoy Traveling?
According to world tourism rankings, travel choices generally clustered around these top ten travel destinations regardless of generation in 2018:
*Notably, the only country whose visitation was down among the top ten.
Millennial Travel Destinations Trending Up
Millennial Travel Destinations Trending Down
Travel to the destinations below has increased for millennials.
Travel to the destinations listed below has fallen for millennials.
Some other millennial travel trends worth noting:
Domestic travel in the US is very different. Domestic destinations are among the vast majority of millennials’ favorite travel destinations (79 percent). However, it’s worth noting that one in three millennials will plan an international trip within the next two years.
In the US, millennials stated their annual travel plans included the following:
Within the next two years, 33 percent of millennials plan on traveling to international destinations.
How Much Do Millennials Typically Spend Traveling?
The spending numbers for traveling millennials are substantial. In 2018, US millennials spent a whopping $200 billion. Additionally, millennials increasingly have large travel budgets and are the generation most likely to accrue debt so they can travel.
Given the upward trends in millennials' travel, they are a generation worthy of your attention and marketing dollars. Boston Consulting Group cited research indicating that millennials’ spending on business trips is likely to increase to nearly 50 percent of the business air travel market in 2020.
Additional data indicates the overall trend in this generation’s travel increases as they book more trips. You can, then, plan on millennials’ spending to increase as well.
Travel industry data shows 33 percent of millennials have an average travel budget of $5,000 or more. However, despite more frequent travel than other generations, the cost of their average summer vacation was modest at $1,373 (excluding airfare). By contrast, Gen X spends an average of $2,628, and Baby Boomers an average of $1,865 on summer vacations.
Why Do Millennials Love Traveling So Much?
The most recent data indicates Millennials are not stereotypical tourists, preferring experience travel with the desire for cultural immersion and fewer tourist traps.
Experiencing new cultures is so important to this generation of travelers that 86 percent chose traveling to a new culture over 44 percent who go to party and 28 percent who travel for shopping.
Travel destinations that wish to capture a segment of the $200 billion annual millennial travel market need cultural experiences, accommodations, dining, and other amenities to draw this increasingly significant segment of the traveling population.
In addition to booking their trips, millennials are increasingly favoring direct accommodation services like Airbnb over traditional forms of lodging. They can travel more because they generally have fewer responsibilities.
What Do Millennial Travelers Prefer: Going with a Group or Solo?
Millennials’ travel preferences depend on the individual, like any generation, but overall the data indicates 58 percent of millennials prefer traveling with friends, compared to 38 percent of other age groups. Interestingly, 58 percent of millennials surveyed also stated they would travel solo. About 26 percent of millennials have already gone alone.
When it comes to women, 26 percent of millennials have traveled solo, and 27 percent have not but would consider it. Data suggests 40 percent of travelers will vacation with friends in the next 12 months. Here are some additional stats regarding millennials' group traveling habits.
The data indicates this generation’s travel preferences are markedly different than previous generations. Social media is a very influential driver in millennials’ travel choices, which combine wanderlust with a craving for knowledge and an emphasis on experience and exposure to new cultures and ideas.
How Much Influence Does Social Media Have on Millennials’ Travel Decisions?
Social media has a massive influence on millennials’ travel booking habits.
Millennials–those born between 1981 and 1996–grew up with the internet and social media as platforms for recording the events of their daily life. The influence of social media, in turn, plays a central role in millennials’ choices.
A vast majority of millennial travelers seek out social media for travel inspiration, research, and ultimately choosing where to travel. Since nearly all millennials post their travel experiences online while on vacation, they further influence their friends’ holiday choices when choosing a vacation destination.
Many progressive vacation destinations have introduced so-called “selfie stations” to encourage travelers to pose for photos and share their experience while also tagging or checking in at the resort or destination on social media. Savvy marketers are finding ways to get social media exposure without even asking or annoying their guests.
How Do Smartphones Help Millennial Travelers?
Millennial travelers are very much DIY when it comes to booking their travel using mobile devices and apps.
To millennials, a smartphone is an essential tool for planning, researching, booking, and documenting a vacation. This generation grew up using smartphones, so, unsurprisingly, two-thirds of millennials book travel on a smartphone and nearly three-quarters use a smartphone and travel apps to research their trips.
Smartphone apps have also streamlined how we check-in for flights and hotels, navigate in unfamiliar places, book reservations for dining and excursions, and more.
Why Do Millennials Travel So Much?
Data from the travel industry suggests that long-duration travel to a different part of the world increased happiness among survey respondents. The data on millennials indicates:
The pattern that emerged from the data on this question indicates millennials’ vacation planning has three main drivers: destination, trip length, and experiences. A 2017 New Horizons study found a relationship between the frequency of activities and experiences while traveling corresponded to increased happiness. The increase can level off for trips of one month or more in duration.
The destinations that ranked highly on people’s joy index were:
Data also suggests that any generation traveling outside their local area is happier than people who only stay close to home.
How Do Millennials Book Their Travel?
Millennials’ booking preferences break down as follows:
When it comes to researching their travel plans, millennials use a variety of online sources in addition to social media.
The millennial generation’s travel choices have an emotional dimension as well as an experiential one. They want validation for their choice of destination from other travelers who’ve been there. More than half of respondents consult with social media, review sites, family, and friends when researching their travel options.
Despite millennials’ preference for DIY sites like Kayak, Expedia, and Booking.com, travel agents are still a profitable business within the industry. Most millennials (61 percent) used both offline and online travel agents to plan their experiential, culturally enriching vacations.
How Do Millennials Make Use of Hotel Bookings and Rewards?
More than half of millennials (58 percent) prefer full-service hotels. Only 11 percent preferred Airbnb and owner direct accommodations. Additionally:
Major hotel chains have taken notice of the $200 billion annual millennial travel business and have marketed reward or loyalty programs to attract direct bookings from this segment. Three-quarters of patrons remain brand-loyal even with expired points.
With millennial travelers expected to increase business travel spending by 50 percent in 2020, smart hotels and boutique lodging establishments will work aggressively to capture and retain these customers.
Hotels can also benefit from short-duration discounts and flash sales to draw new business by leveraging millennials’ spontaneous nature.
What Are the Services Younger Generations Want from the Travel Industry?
The essential services millennials want from the travel industry include information and conveniences.
The key takeaways for marketing to millennials using technology include: