These Are the 5 Ways Millennials Ruined Travel

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Millennials enjoy brunch and laugh while dining outside.

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.

A smiling girl and guy lat in the grass with flowers around them in the summer.

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.

A beautiful hipster millennial wearing a denim jacket, hoodie, and hat holds a coffee and checks her phone.

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.

Someone photographs their elaborate craft cocktail against a wallpaper background to post to their Instagram.

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 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 significant 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. 

Travel by airplane. Rear view of young man walking in passenger boarding bridge at airport.

5. They Are Cheap Travellers

Many millennials are cheap travelers, and there are several reasons for this. They tend to be younger, have lower salaries, have more unpredictable expenses, and have 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 significant losses as higher-end options can’t afford to keep their doors open. 

Where Do Millennials Travel Most? 

Based on Expedia’s data, millennials are more likely to spend their time traveling within the U.S. 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 the 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 followed.

Two friends on a canopy boat in Bora Bora where the water is turquoise and the sun shines brightly through the sail.

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 for 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 we all travel. For some, these changes have been primarily 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?

1 comment
  1. How have the five listed complaints ruined travel? If you don’t want to work while traveling, don’t. If you don’t like Instagramming your travels, don’t. If you don’t want to use an app for fuel discounts either find another method to get discounts or pass them by – your choice. Frequent travel may increase one’s carbon footprint but then again it might not. If you want to pay more for your vacation feel free but don’t expect others to assist you on keeping up your lifestyle without a benefit to themselves.

    Just because some people do things differently doesn’t mean that it is ruining it for others. It is time for everyone to be responsible for their own happiness and quit blaming others..

    It is interesting that the next article is on how to travel on a fixed income which could be considered ruining traveling for those who are not on a fixed income the same as how millennials are ruining travel for others.

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