A lot has been said about millennials. They make up the largest slice of America’s generational pie and continue to play a more important role in shaping our society. But as they’ve matured, it’s become an all-too-common refrain in recent years: millennials ruining something!
While these charges aren’t always accurate, they do often reflect real frustrations with our modern world. So we’re taking a closer look at how this generation has changed the way we travel, and not always for the better.
What Is a Millennial?
A millennial is a member of the so-called millennial generation, the generation that followed Gen X and preceded Gen Z, or the “zoomers.” Generally, anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is a millennial.
The name derives from the fact that many of this generation either came of age or grew up around the year 2000, also referred to as the Millenium. The millennial experience includes the growth of the internet in their lifetimes and significant events like September 11th and the Great Recession.
What Generation Travels the Most?
Millennials travel the most. A 2017 Expedia survey found they travel 35 days annually, nearly 10% of the year. Younger Gen Z’ers follow them, with 29 days on average. Both Gen X and Baby Boomers travel less, with around 26 or 27 days annually.
These two generations tend to hold back due to family and job responsibilities. Age or declining health is a limiting factor for Boomers.
5 Ways Millennials Ruined Travel
Unfortunately, there are several notable downsides to the millennial travel boom in recent years. Here are some of the most frustrating.
1. Millennials Take More Time Off to Travel But Bring Work With Them
Millennials tend to be extremely comfortable with technology and staying connected on the go. While this can be a plus in certain situations, it can significantly change how you experience travel. Many millennial travelers blur the line between work and vacation and get stuck answering emails or phone calls even as they explore their destinations.
There’s also a growing cultural expectation that workers should always be available and “online.” While older generations remember a workplace before this was the case, many millennials have simply come to accept this always-on mentality. This can hurt your ability to immerse yourself in a destination.
2. They Instagram Everything
Millennials are the first generation to see the emergence of social media in their early years. This means that many of them have come to view constant social sharing as part of their lives. From this perspective, it’s natural to want to share every new and exciting place you travel to with all of your friends and connections. They’re likely doing the same.
Aside from what can sometimes be excessive oversharing, the quest for the perfect Insta shot has also harmed others. Where people once came, took a photo, and enjoyed a location, some millennials can spend more time trying to get that perfect picture than actually experiencing the destination.
The quest for cool Instagram shots has led once quiet or isolated locations to be overrun by photo-takers. They often found out about these very spots from others on social media.
Traveler’s Tip: This one is for you, millennials! Here are the 5 most Instagrammable spots in Florida.
3. They Use Apps for Everything From Cheap Fuel to Coupons
Another side effect of being “digital natives” is that millennials are very familiar with apps. As this generation becomes the most dominant in American society, their demands will also change travel. In some places, apps have already replaced analog technology for parking, transit, or other services.
Increasingly, those who want fuel discounts, coupons, or any number of other benefits will need to open an app to get what they need. This can be confusing and a little overwhelming for travelers of other generations who may not be as tech-friendly.
4. They Travel a Lot
It’s an unquestionable downside of modern-day travel. No matter what method you take, you’re likely contributing a significant amount of carbon emissions into our already-warming world. And the more you travel, the higher your emissions impact will be.
This is a bit of generational cognitive dissonance, as surveys have found millennials are among the most likely to say they care about taking steps to protect the climate and create a sustainable future.
5. They Are Cheap Travellers
Many millennials are cheap travelers, and there are several reasons for this. They tend to be younger, with lower salaries, more unpredictable expenses, and less time to save money. With so many coming of age around the Great Recession, many have faced lower earnings.
Whatever the reasons, it’s resulted in a generation of folks who simply can’t or won’t pay for luxury or other expensive experiences. Over the long term, these changing tastes could result in some significant losses as higher-end options can’t afford to keep their doors open.
Where Do Millennials Travel Most?
Based on Expedia’s data, millenials are more likely to spend their time traveling within the U.S. In fact, their data shows more than 80% of millennials’ most recent trips were domestic.
But that doesn’t mean they’re afraid to leave our borders. In 2019, data from travel app Hopper found the top “millennial destination” was Bora Bora, French Polynesia. The Caribbean island of St. Martin, and the ski town of Aspen, Colo., followed.
What Are Millennials Looking for When Traveling?
While all travelers are different, many millennials are looking for unique experiences or to check off a “bucket list” item on their travels. A 2019 AARP survey found millennials are more likely to say their travel stems from a desire to try something new or go on an adventure.
Expedia’s survey also found similar results, saying they embrace “YOLO” (an abbreviation for “you only live once”) vibes. This is a desire not to miss out on a one-of-a-kind experience or place. Millennials also favor all-inclusive, relaxing, and romantic vacations. From a practical perspective, these travelers also look for bargain travel due to financial reasons.
Traveler’s Tip: Are you interested in unique travel destinations? Check out these 9 unusual destinations in North Carolina.
Have Millennials Ruined Travel?
It’s clear that as millennials have come of age, they’ve dramatically impacted the travel industry and how all of us travel. For some, these changes have been mostly negative.
But just because one generation travels differently than another doesn’t mean travel is ruined. Go out and experience what you want to experience. Perhaps we could even learn something from the different ways we travel.
Where would you like to visit next?