Survey: U.S. Millennials Seek Challenging, Immersive Travel Experiences

U.S. millennial travelers are seeking immersive, local experiences that challenge them and expand their awareness, according to a new report.

The report, 2018 Future of U.S. Millennial Travel, was based on a Resonance Consultancy survey of U.S. residents from 20 to 36 years old who have taken an overnight vacation at least 75 miles from home in the past year. Eighty-five percent of respondents said that venturing out of their comfort zones and learning new things is a priority, right behind dining (91 percent), fun attractions (90 percent) and sightseeing (88 percent).

Consistent with this finding, two of the most desired future travel activities among respondents are participating in once-in-a-lifetime activity (36 percent) and volunteering (31 percent).

Young travelers are not ‘escaping’ through travel as much as they’re collecting experiences and pursuing opportunities for growth,” the report says.

This adventurous spirit can also be seen in the large portion of millennial travelers who are choosing to travel alone. Twenty-five percent of those polled say they prefer solo trips, and as far back as 2014, in Booking.com’s Solo Travel Report, American women ranked first (ahead of those from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Germany) in solo travel.

The quest for expanding awareness is reflected in the findings that those surveyed by Resonance Consultancy are almost as likely to visit a major metropolitan city (38 percent) as a beach resort (40 percent), and that about one-third plan to visit a foreign country in the next two years.

The report includes other key findings, such as the following.

  • The two most important factors for solo millennial travelers when choosing a vacation destination are safety (56 percent) and cost (51 percent).
  • The most popular accommodation preference is a full-service hotel/resort (53 percent). Apartment/condominium ranked ninth, at 21 percent.
  • Forty percent are most likely to vacation with friends and family.
  • Two-thirds prefer booking on travel websites and close to half (47 percent) prefer booking through a specific hotel, resort or airline website.
  • Sixty-four percent prefer booking on travel websites, compared with 47 through specific hotel, resort and airline websites; 24 percent through travel agents; and 23 percent through Airbnb (although 52 percent use owner-direct rental services such as Airbnb).
  • The most desirable hotel amenity is free internet/Wi-Fi access (68 percent), followed by privacy (57 percent) and a swimming pool (50 percent).
  • Seventy-one percent enjoy health and fitness activities while traveling, ranking just below nightlife (76 percent), and cultural events and performances (74 percent).
  • Thirty-four percent plan to go camping in the next two years, barely trailing the portion that plan to visit a metropolitan city (38 percent).
  • Seventy-seven percent use a mobile phone or computer daily while traveling, while 32 percent use one of them hourly.
  • Forty-three percent share Instagram images daily, and 11 percent do so hourly.