4 Reasons Why Wanderlust Runs Strong Among Millennials

Becky Slater
January 16, 2024

Typically, social and financial behaviors are very dependent on an individual's age, and thus the generation that they belong to. Professional behavior is very dependent on the generation an employee and an employer belong to, with a new set of rules and norms coming into existence for Millennials in the workplace. One of the greatest behavioral differences between the generations is Millennials' tendency to spend most of their budget on travel.

That wanderlust was on full display a couple of years ago when MMGY Global found that an eye-opening 80 percent of Millennials took one trip for fun in the year, with a large number of them going on multiple trips. That's 32 percent higher than Gen Xers and 44 percent more than Baby Boomers. Sure, some of these trips are work-related, but Millennials' desire to travel can't be discounted nonetheless.

With unemployment low, wages inching higher, and the stock market booming, the wanderlust of those aged 18 to 34 as of 2015 is expected to go on unabated. But what's driving this group of consumers to spend their money on travel rather than clothes, electronics, or other "stuff"? Turns out, there's a bevy of reasons, many of which have to do with Millennials' upbringing.

Millennials Like to Travel—But Why?


Entitlement Extends to Travel

Many Millennials grew up traveling often, and have come to expect a vacation at least once a year—if not more. The cost, time, and opportunity to travel has evolved quite a bit from when Gen Xers and Baby Boomers were at the dawn of adulthood. They didn't grow up globetrotting all over the world, so they tend to treat international travel as much more of a rare, precious treat to gift themselves once a year—at most.

Older generations generally worry about the appearance of taking off time to travel multiple times in a 12-month period, especially when there's work to be done at home and in their careers. They're also known to have prioritized social and financial stability—if only in its appearance—over more "frivolous" expenses such as travel. Millennials, on the other hand, view vacations both equally as fun as well as a necessity to rewind and recharge. Their definition of work/life balance is quite different from their older counterparts, and tends to involve more telecommuting and remote work than what was feasible even only a decade ago.

On top of that, many Millennials grew up watching their parents struggling with mounting credit card debt and have vowed to break the cycle in response to that experience. They bristle at charging things they can't afford and are more likely to save than the older generations. That means that travel is a much more affordable endeavor that they can more easily indulge in their older counterparts.

According to the survey by MMGY Global, 64 percent of millennial respondents cited a need to relax for their vacation habits, while 59 percent cited spending quality time with family, and 38 percent pointed to a desire to sight-see.

Experiences Matter More


The number of millennial homeowners has been in decline since the beginning of this past decade. While student loan debt is definitely a major factor in the low number of Millennials that own a house, it's also a choice for many of them who would rather spend their money and savings on life experiences rather than being tied to a home with a long-lasting mortgage. After all, home-ownership comes with work that requires both time and money.

Millennials would much rather spend both that time and that money wandering the world. Indeed, a recent survey by Realty Mogul found that 47 percent of Millennials would rather spend the money to go on a trip than purchase a home. That compares to 25 percent of those who are 45 and older. Other surveys have shown that Millennials would rather spend money on an event or an experience than an item.

Millennials value the experiences and memories made on vacations and travels over that of a designer sweater that will go out of style or a home that requires maintenance and upkeep. And they aren't only visiting popular destinations; Millennials like unique experiences and will go to great lengths to find them, which ultimately bodes well for travel companies.

Digital Devices Make it Easy to Find Trips

With the advent of technology, Millennials have developed a new language of communication and sharing thanks to social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Each one of these websites is a great platform to learn about parts of the world they have yet to visit, as well as stay much more easily and immediately informed about special travel deals.

Open up their Facebook news feed and they'll see countless "friends" posting pictures and comments about their recent travels. Log on to Instagram and they will not only see vacation images from friends, but also marketers trying to entice them to book a vacation. And that doesn't take into account personal blogs, websites, and online ads that have all sorts of vacation ideas and packages for any and all interests—and budgets.

The downside to traveling millennials and social media is that many have become dependent on sharing their experiences on public platforms. In fact, almost a quarter of traveling millennials' compulsion to share online is known as "bragtagging," a phenomenon where they need to share for the sake of showing off more than anything else.


Millennials Choose Jobs That Enable Them to Travel

Millennials prioritize different things in their work and careers, in contrast to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Generally, Millennials tend to view their jobs in one of two ways:

1) their jobs are a means to enjoy life; they don't want to spend more than their allotted hours each week just to make a lot of money, or 2) their jobs are more intrinsically included in their lives, allowing them to live in the way they want, be it in a big house or perpetually on the road.

Generally, Millennials prioritize their time off work more than older generations, favoring careers or roles that will allow them to more freely set the parameters of their work/life situation.

Final Thoughts

Everyone wants to kick back and get some rest and relax in the form of a vacation from time to time but, for Millennials, they give in to full-blown wanderlust. While there are all sorts of reasons that individuals aged 18 to 34 want to travel multiple times a year, a lot of it has to do with the times they now live in.

Between easy access to information about international adventures and a much lower price-point for trips, Millennials are in the unique position to include travel in their lives in a way that has never been possible before.

Becky Slater
Becky Slater is an avid traveler and consultant whose main clientele includes millennials. Being one herself, she’s very familiar with the stigma around her generation as well as the unhealthy behavioral tendency her peers might have.


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