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Travel Trends by Age Demographic

Knowing your demographic aids in planning your trip offerings, and in marketing. These are the recent trends associated with Student, Millennial, Generation X, and Baby Boom travelers:


According to a 2014 study published by Skift and StudentUniverse, the student traveler represents fully one-fifth of all international arrivals in the travel industry, commanding a market value of some $320 billion. One important message, particularly with younger students: "Many student travelers want travel companies to supply adviser level expertise as part of the purchasing experience, especially since this is likely the first time these students are traveling independently apart from their family. Another important finding: the stereotype of the "backpack and party" college travelers is also changing, with a greater emphasis on educational travel.


WYSE Travel Confederation's New Horizons benchmark study, which began in 2002, sought to understand the unique travel motivations, activities, booking, and spending habits of young travelers worldwide, as well as the growing requirements of the ever-expanding industry. Here's what they found:

  • The number of travelers older than age 30 showed the biggest percentage increase from 2007, rising from 10% of the market to 17%, while younger travelers, aged 23 to 30, have seen a decrease of a similar percentage.
  • Young people continued to spend when they travel. The average is €3,000 per trip, €50 a day, with self-identified "flashpackers" the highest spenders, followed by backpackers and travelers.
  • The biggest difference since 2007 was the length of visit. The average stay of 58 days was almost a week more than in the previous study.
  • The ability to book using mobile devices is now the second biggest consideration after price. Online booking is ranked behind "close proximity to a physical travel agency" as far as importance. Websites are, however, still how most young travelers seek information about future destinations.
  • The city most young travelers wanted to visit was Rio de Janeiro, followed by Tokyo, Sydney, Buenos Aires, and San Francisco.

"Young travelers today want, more than ever, to enrich themselves with cultural experiences, to meet local people and to improve their employability when they return home," said David Chapman, director general for the WYSE Travel Confederation.

Generation X reports that Gen X travelers, those born between 1965 and 1980, will take the most leisure trips. They account for one out of every three leisure travelers and will average between three and four trips this year. According to, their top travel descriptors are: exploration hungry, price sensitivity, and cultural interest.

Baby Boomers

AARP reports that Baby Boomers (aged 50+) are active travelers, anticipating four or five trips in the next year. More than half of Baby Boomers report that they plan to travel exclusively in the U.S., and 42% plan on both domestic and international travel. Bucket List, summer vacation, and multi-generational trips are their most popular types of international trips, while multi-generational, summer vacations, and weekend getaways were their most popular types of domestic trips.

One thing that all generations had in common: They're looking for authentic experiences. Whether on a luxury trip, or college-kid budget, travelers are seeking to interact with nature, experience culture, and enjoy the "real thing," not something orchestrated for tourists.

Written by Jennifer Reynolds, staff writer at Groups Today Magazine.

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