Study: Generation X, Millennials & Generation Z Travel Differently

by SharonKurheg

It’s amazing, yet not, how different demographics of people have varying priorities when it comes to traveling. For example:

So I guess it really shouldn’t be a surprise that people who identify as Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z are all quite different in their plans for travel.

As a quick review, the definition for each group varies. But they’re approximately:

  • Generation X (Gen Xers) – The generation born between 1965 and 1980
  • Millennials – born between 1981 and 1996
  • Generation Z (Gen Zers, Zoomers) – born between 1997 and 2012

GetYourGuide is a Berlin-based online travel agency and online marketplace for tour guides and excursions. Founded in Switzerland, it’s accessible via a website and mobile app for both iOS and Android. They sell tours, excursions, and tickets to a variety of tourist attractions. Frankly, the don’t get stellar reviews on TripAdvisor (2 out of 5 stars) or Yelp (also 2 out of 5 stars).

Poor reviews notwithstanding, GetYourGuide did a study not long ago where they surveyed 1,000 Americans between the ages of 22 and 58 and evaluated the preferences of the three generations in terms of travel. Here’s some of the information they culled out:

Gen Z seems to be the most adventurous

51% of the Zoomers were interested in booking international trips, especially Paris, Dubai, Puerto Rico (*cough* that’s not international *cough*) and Greece.

The experiences they were looking into were also adventurous by nature – bioluminescent bay boating in San Juan, desert safaris in Dubai, volcanic islands cruises in Cyclades, Greece and “meet-the-locals” activities (i.e. baking classes in France).

Older groups were more interested in domestic travel

Unlike the Zoomers, 48% of Millennials and 61% of Gen Xers were making plans for domestic travel. Only 35% of Millennials and 20% of Gen Xers were looking to travel abroad at the time of the survey.

Domestically, Millennials were also a bit more open to traveling outside their own city than Gen Xers, who tended to stay closer to home with staycations and the like.

New York City, Miami and San Diego were popular choices for all three groups, Millennials and Generation Z looked more at Los Angeles, while Generation X considered Washington, D.C. more than the other two groups.

Millennials planned to spend more on travel

Regardless of where each group planned to go, 64% of millennials were more willing than the other groups to pay to have a travel agent plan their excursions for them (I wonder if they read our post about “Do you need a travel agent to plan your trip?”).

Millennials also seemed to have larger budgets for excursions on their trips. However all three groups said that having unique experiences was the most impactful element of their favorite vacations (Gen Z: 38%, Millennials: 48%, Gen Xers: 43%).

However all three generations agreed on one thing: budgeting for vacations to be “the most annoying aspect of travel planning.”

Safety & flexibility were priorities

When the survey was being conducted, the Delta variant was still everywhere. So it’s not surprising that just over half of each age group cited COVID as their top concern in travel planning: 57% of Gen Zers, 54% of Millennials and 55% of Gen Xers.

All three generations also ranked flexibility in terms of cancellations as one of their top concerns.

Generational travel studies in the past

Of course, GetYourGuide’s study isn’t the first to measure the differences in travel trends between the generations. Here are some others:

It would be interesting to see if and how, as each age group continues to grow older, if these trends change over time.

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Jim April 10, 2022 - 9:48 pm

Noting these differences without controlling for children and the age of those children seems like a very silly oversight. I would love to go to Greece. But I’m Gen X with a Gen Z, school-aged kid. I couldn’t risk a two week quarantine on a two week vacation.. Surprise, Gen X and older Millennials were taking their kids to DC and Orlando because they didn’t want the drama.

RJ Davis April 11, 2022 - 2:03 am

Same with doing this study in a covid year with Gen X and Millenials and elder care. We’re just less willing to risk infection being brought home to folks at high risk/more likely to have those who are dependent on us in a pandemic. Meaningless study regarding actual preferences.

chris April 11, 2022 - 6:47 am

Pretty sure gen Z term pre-dates “zoom”.

BriFly April 11, 2022 - 4:39 pm

Hubby and I are Gen x and rarely travel domestically. We do several overseas trips a year.

SharonKurheg April 11, 2022 - 4:47 pm

Joe and I are also Gen X and do more domestic than international (we’ll do international once every 1-3 years). Everyone’s different 🙂

Gisela April 14, 2022 - 1:38 pm

Gen Z are the youngest with least responsibility tying them down! By the time you’re in your middle age, you’ve seen and done your adventuring and moved to a different phase – and when you do ‘adventure’ it’s in a different form.

SharonKurheg April 14, 2022 - 3:21 pm

On the other hand, Gen Z. also may not have the funds to do the things considered more “adventurous.” Also, some people don’t get “brave” until they get older. My first shot at canyoneering down a 200 foot ravine happened when I was 40, and I didn’t go spelunking (which I’ve done several times since) until I was 42. Everyone is different. As the good blog says, Your Mileage May Vary. 😉

Violet April 14, 2022 - 5:53 pm

Travelling has become a pain since COVID and those of us who remember how much fun it used to be, don’t want to bother with the hassle.

I’m GenX and had a trip to South America booked in 2020 that was cancelled. After two years of uncertainty, I am ok with exploring closer to home for now because I already ticked many places off my bucket list before covid.

But people in their 20s haven’t seen much so it makes sense they want to get out there, regardless of endless restrictions.


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