How Millennials Travel Differently

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[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”raised” width=”640px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase. All opinions are 100% mine.[/dropshadowbox]


For the past year or so, everyone has been obsessed with the “millennials.” Who they are, their habits, their work ethic (or lack thereof), their sense of entitlement…

A millennial is officially defined as someone who is 18-34 years of age (or, born between 1980 and the late 1990s). I technically fall into this category, having been born in 1986 – though I identify more with the “Oregon Trail Generation,” who experienced the advent of the Internet during our formative years.

But nevermind that. Back to millennials. This generation is of particular interest to a lot of researchers and people who conduct surveys and studies because it's the generation that (theoretically, at least), should be spending money. It's also a generation completely different from generations before it like Generation X (35-49 years old) and the Baby Boomers (50-67 years old) because of that whole Internet thing again and how much technology has changed the world we live in.

This extends, of course, to travel, too.

Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase recently commissioned a nationwide survey on travel preferences among consumers 18-67 years of age (that includes millennials, Gen X'ers, and Baby Boomers) who stay in a hotel at least five nights per year for business, pleasure or both.

Most of the findings come as no surprise to someone who travels as often as I do. Things like:

Millennial travelers seek thrilling adventures and nightlife over leisurely vacations abroad.

According to the survey, 78% of millennials are more interested in thrilling, active vacations than lazy trips.

Hooker Valley Track

As a millennial traveler myself, this makes perfect sense. I would much rather be out walking my feet off in a new city or learning to surf than laying on a beach or sitting on a tour bus all day. Maybe later in life I'll like those “lazy” holidays more, but now I definitely prefer to seek out new adventures and challenge myself when I'm traveling.

Millennial travelers are more likely than other generations to define international vacation “hot spots” by celebrity and pop culture influence.

Again, this really comes as no surprise. Millennials grew up in the times of MTV and Facebook and Netflix; a time where plugging in to pop culture was simple and instantaneous. It's much easier now to follow your favorite celebrities (without physically stalking them) than it used to be – if you see Beyonce post a gorgeous photo from a hotel in Bali on Instagram, it's simple to see it and be inspired to go there yourself.

Conversely, older generations aren't as likely to rely on pop culture for travel inspiration. According to the survey, 34% of Baby Boomers, for example, are most likely to define a destination as a hot spot if it was highlighted in a notable travel or lifestyle publication. (And they say print is dead!)

Nightlife is key.

In the survey, Marriott Rewards Credit Card  found that 28% of millennials are more likely than Gen X'ers (15%) and Boomers (6%) to consider the local nightlife when choosing a particular destination abroad to visit.

The number of backpacker bars and pub crawls all around the world points to this being true. Younger generations are almost always more interested in nightlife, whether traveling or at home.


One thing that I found surprising from this survey though?

Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to travel with a purpose as 84% say they would travel abroad to participate in volunteer activities.

That is surprising to me – and awesome. Millennials are more interested in giving back to places as they travel, which the world definitely needs more of as tourism becomes less and less responsible. I'm not saying everyone should go volunteer at an orphanage on their travels (actually, you should be careful about volunteering at orphanages), but getting involved and giving back is never a bad idea.

Some ideas for you: volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, donate some time to plant trees in Scotland, help protect sea turtle nests in Mexico, or go work on an organic farm in New Zealand. Just do your research beforehand and be smart about any voluntourism you decide to participate in — especially if it involves people or animals that could easily be exploited!


And, if you're a more visual person, here are some of these findings (and more) in infographic form:


More about Marriott Rewards Credit Card

The Marriott Rewards Credit Card from Chase lets travelers earn accelerated Marriott Rewards points on all purchases to help you get the most out of your travel. The card has no foreign transaction fees (always a plus) and they usually offer a nice points sign-up bonus.

If you like earning points towards your next trip (and who doesn’t?), visit Marriott Rewards Credit Card to learn more.

Did any of these findings surprise YOU? Do you think you travel differently as a millennial than people from other generations?

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"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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33 Comments on “How Millennials Travel Differently

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  1. I feel you. Thank you for giving us an insight about traveling. It’s quite helpful since I’m still a beginner in traveling. My idea in traveling is a passion, so everyone can define it with their own preference.

      And that’s how it should be! Some people are really passionate about travel, while others just look at traveling as vacation. It doesn’t really matter to me, though!

    I think a lot of these have to do with the youth of millennials at the present time, though I do think that this generation is more socially attuned than previous generations that this point in their lives.

    Being a Millenial myself, i want to thank you for introducing ‘ volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand’, I will give it a shot as i love Elephants to beats and the costs are very affordable for me.

    Pretty good insights here! Going to help us quite a bit as we plan out our trips!

    Great post Amanda is very interesting this generation is so different we like to explore different cultures …we love doing different things. We don’t like a normal life like everyone.

    Go for real volutering work with animals to Bolivia! Have a look at our website for a post about ‘Working with Jaguars’. But that’s not the only animal which is there! And you’re right before going somewhere, check the background of the place you’re going to work for!

      I’ll definitely check it out, Elise!

    as a baby boomer, with a Marriott card, I find this a little odd. I and like aged friend fall pretty solidly in the ” millennial” camp according to this survey. I’d rather stay home than travel to sit on a beach. And my measure of a successful trip involves how exhausted I am afterwards. I feel like a rip was successful if I awaken at home the next day and feel like I need a vacation…

      Well, of course there are going to be exceptions! 😉

      I find the inference that non-millennial travelers are more likely to opt for a “lazy” vacation that involves laying on a beach or having their sorry behinds lugged around all day on a tour bus curious. Laying on a beach or sitting on a tour bus strike me both as duller than day toast! 😆

        Well, like I said to Rob, there certainly are exceptions!

    I feel like you. I love to seek out an adventure and I’ve hiked to that very same laguna in your photo! I found your point about nightlife interesting. I’m not so much seeking out hot spots for a crazy party as using bars as good places to meet people. I think this is important now it’s much more common for people to travel solo these days.

      I’m the same! I don’t really care about bars and nightclubs, but I DO like to go to places where other people are. So that social aspect is definitely important.

    I think the survey states the obvious, and the ‘findings’ have nothing to do with generational attitudes and everything to do with age. The survey says “20somethings are more likely than older people to be active during the day, party at night, influenced by pop culture and have a stronger desire for social activism”. I’d say a) duh, b) this has always been true, and c) this isn’t exclusive to travel.

    My dad’s travels in the 60s sound exactly like the Millennials today. He wasn’t an anomaly. His media/celebrity influences were different, but just as strong. Today’s Beyonce posing on Instagram is the Beatles being photographed at an ashram in India. Likewise, Millennials in 30 years time will likely travel like the Baby Boomers today. I’m in my late twenties and see it already with peers. Less ‘going travelling for weeks’ and more ‘short haul holiday by the pool’ as they settle down to careers and partners. Just like every other generation of travellers before them.

    And like travel bloggers these days, there have always been the rare people who never follow the ‘normal’ path and travel forever. So even that isn’t a new thing for Millennials.

      All very good points, Joanna! I will definitely be interested to see how I’ll be traveling 30 years from now.

    This is an interesting study.
    While I’m not a millennial, (I would fall in Gen X) I think some of these categories have more to do with the age during the time of travel. Take nightlife for instance, GenXer’s would have been more interested in nightlife when they were first travelling in their twenties. While Baby boomers married far earlier, they definitely had nightspots of their own – their clubs were just much different from the clubs of today.

    Adventure travel seems like a similar category – my friends certainly didn’t go on ‘lazy’ trips in their 20’s but probably have more of a mix in their late 30’s and 40’s now. I would guess it depends on your life at the time.

    As for Voluntourism – it is a rather new “industry” and I wonder if many Babyboomers feel they are too old to contribute and GenXer’s wonder if their contribution could be doing more harm than good. I know I worry about that. (Thank you for putting in about the orphanage volunteerism. There are Cambodian orphanages deliberately kept in a horrible state to make them look more needy for foreign tourism. They are ‘stocked’ with children that have families but know the kids get more money working in the orphanage than in school. This isn’t just a Cambodian problem but very widespread.)

    Thank you for this interesting post! I love your blog. 🙂

      I think that’s definitely a good point, Michelle – younger generations are automatically going to be drawn to more adventurous destinations and places with good nightlife.

      And yes, the orphanage “industry” makes me really, really sad. I’m actually glad people are noticing that very small mention in this post – I’ll take any opportunity to educate people about it!

      I’m a Boomer love giving back. Voluntourism is fantastic. Its so exciting and inspiring to be with friends and help others in need. I would like to participate more around the world.
      Very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given.

    Very interesting statistics, but as a traveler myself who is just going to have a 10th anniversary in September I definitely agree that millenials are looking for experiences instead of leisure.

    Now one thing that interested me in your article is why do you think a person should never volunteer at an orphanage. And why volunteering at animals shelter can be justified but at an orphanage cannot? As I have done it in Bolivia and experienced it first hand I would love to hear your output on the topic.

      Yup, I definitely agree that millennials are more about the experience – and I feel like social media (and wanting to show people where they’ve been) plays into this!

      As for orphanage volunteering/tourism, I just responded to another comment with this: There’s a lot of research out there that suggests that short-term relationships (like those formed between volunteers and kids at orphanages) can actually do more harm than good. And then there’s the fact that “orphanage tourism” (where people go to just visit orphanages for a day or two) is actually leading parents in developing countries like Cambodia to actually sell their children/pimp them out to orphanages in order to make money. I’m not saying ALL orphanage tourism/volunteerism is bad, but I would be very wary about participating myself.

      This post is a really good read:

      There’s definitely a difference between volunteering with kids and volunteering with animals. I would counsel people to do their due diligence and research ANY volunteer experience thoroughly – but I’d probably say you should spend even MORE time researching anything that involves volunteering with other (often disadvantaged) humans, especially kids.

        Thanks for the reply. I volunteered long term at an orphanage and I am torn as well whether it was a good thing or bad thing. We would get visitors for a day or 2 during easter and the next days all babies were sick and whiny. On the other hand if the volunteers weren’t there the kids were just left to themselves, there was no stimulation, no adult to keep them company or teach them how to walk and play with them. It is a very controversial thing, and you are right, do your research before you volunteer.

          Yeah, there’s a difference between volunteering long-term and just doing it for a couple of days on a holiday. (And, as far as this study is concerned, I’m sure the volunteering people are interested in is short-term.)

    I’m fine with exploring cities during the day while I’m on a travel tour. As for nightlife, dinner and dessert followed by drinks at local watering hole is a nice way to end the day.

    Yeah, the adventurous traveling is definitely applicable to my travel style! Out of curiosity, though, why do you say not to volunteer at orphanages? I did in 2007 while visiting a sister church in Uganda, and it was an incredibly moving experience.

      There’s a lot of research out there that suggests that short-term relationships (like those formed between volunteers and kids at orphanages) can actually do more harm than good. And then there’s the fact that “orphanage tourism” (where people go to just visit orphanages for a day or two) is actually leading parents in developing countries like Cambodia to actually sell their children/pimp them out to orphanages in order to make money. I’m not saying ALL orphanage tourism/volunteerism is bad, but I would be very wary about participating myself.

      This post is a really good read:

    While traveling, my idea of “nightlife” is going out to dinner and seeing a musical in London or New York, and I’m 25 years old 😉 But other than that, I’d much rather walk around all day exploring a new city than getting my tan on somewhere tropical. Thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

      Haha, yeah, I don’t generally care about the nightlife when choosing a place to travel, but I know that I’m in the minority!

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