Despite struggling to find jobs and affordable housing, the 18-35 year old generation is the luckiest so far when it comes to travel. Research has found that millennials take more trips abroad (for both work and leisure) than any other generation, with an average rate of 4.2 leisure trips per year and 4.7 business trips annually.
Clearly, travelling is far more prevalent amongst millennials than any generation prior. It is a hobby that is becoming more affordable, accessible and altogether easier to undertake than ever before. Exploring new cities and cultures, meeting new people and even just lying on a beach somewhere requires much less time, effort and money than it once did.
In an uncertain world where the millennial generation is facing a number of challenges, it can at least seek respite in the knowledge that the evolution of the travel industry continues to be shaped with 18-35 year olds in mind.
While travelling during one’s student years and long summer trips were often reserved for only the wealthiest amongst us, the rise of budget airlines and last-minute deals have allowed more people to integrate travel into their everyday lives without breaking the bank.
It is not unheard of for entry-level employees to take advantage of a bank holiday weekend by jetting off to Barcelona or for students to bond on a cheap mid-term trip to Krakow. Even long-haul trips to the Americas or Asia are becoming increasingly popular as travel companies are willing to provide low-cost packages to take advantage of growing millennial demand. Opportunities for ‘voluntourism’ (though a moral and ethical debate in itself) are ever growing.
Although the environmental considerations of a generation who can now do cheap travel on a whim may not be great, perhaps the most obvious positive change to travel is its growing affordability. No longer restricted to the middle classes and the middle-aged, regular travel is becoming a staple millennial experience. As a generation, we are far more culturally experienced and well-travelled than our parents were.
Millennials and the early ‘Gen Z’ generation are also the first to fully take advantage of a truly ‘global’ world. Within Europe, the freedom of movement granted under the Maastricht Treaty (1992) has allowed an entire generation to travel, live and work in Europe without the need for a complex bureaucratic process.
Furthermore, the internet and the smartphones that reside in our pockets have further reduced barriers to travel that may have existed before. Forward planning and knowledge of a place is largely unnecessary when Google Maps can help you navigate a city. Language barriers are minor when you can translate phrases as and when you need them and jumping from one country to the next is almost seamless when you can book everything on your phone. Even navigating the currency of different countries, as was once required, is now largely irrelevant – app-based cards like Monzo and Starling have ridded us of the need to carry physical cash, contend with travellers’ cheques, or pay extortionate fees to convert currency.
Though seasoned travellers of old may argue that travelling today is too easy and predictable, it is equally true that the increasing ease of travel derived from a more technically literate society has made it accessible to more people.
As the travel industry further tailors itself to the growing demographic of millennial travellers, it is likely that travelling will only become cheaper, easier, and more accessible. Growing global interconnectedness, increasing technological progress and a burgeoning desire to spend on worthwhile experiences, rather than material goods, all point towards a continued positive evolution within the travel industry that millennials are well primed to take advantage of.