As we finish off our generational marketing series, we wanted to take a minute and give our attention to travel trends amongst the generational groups. As a specialist travel marketing agency, this is an incredibly important sector to us.

  • Younger generations are accumulating more spending power with their presence in the jobs market cemented.
  • The travel and tourism industry could see a period of transition where rapid technological changes, motivations for travelling, and new marketing methods take centre stage.

Baby Boomers

Amongst new breeds of younger travellers, we would be foolish to ignore the presence of the massive post-war generation, Baby Boomers. Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are retiring and are enjoying the fruits of a lifetime of hard work. For further insight into Baby Boomers read about them here.

Baby Boomers are entering a period in life where they're looking to kick back and relax with travel the elixir.

99% of Baby Boomers make at least one leisure trip per annum. Generally, the Boomer generation will take 5 leisure trips, both domestic and foreign per year, spanning over an average of 27 days.

Examining the travel motives among Baby Boomers, AARP uncovers three main trends:

  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Relaxing and rejuvenating
  • Getting away from everyday life
baby boomers travel

But what sort of holidays are Boomers taking? According to the same study by AARP, nearly a quarter of Baby Boomers are making 'bucket list' trips. This makes sense, there will never be a better time for them to do the things they've always wanted to do than during retirement. Summer vacations and romantic getaways are also popular, accounting for 10% of trips respectively. Multi-generational trips and solo travel represent another 15% of trips.

Regarding where Boomers are spending their holidays, European destinations are popular with the UK, Italy and France being themost frequented destinations. Trips to the Caribbean and Asia/The Middle East also draw considerable attention.

The Baby Boomer generation is not as technologically proficient as younger generations. However, they are becoming increasingly tech-savvy, a trend which is changing how they travel.50% own and use a smartphone, while 4 out of 5 now have a presence on social media. Facebook is the preferred platform amongst the more senior audience.

baby boomers technology

We are also seeing Boomers as being more dependent on tech for researching and booking trips. Online Travel Agencies are still the preferred method of booking with the website’s ease of use being a key factor within this. Boomers are also using mobile phones more and more on their travels.AARP’s research into the Baby Boomer generation provides a detailed breakdown of how they’re using their devices when travelling.

how baby boomers use mobile when travelling

Boomers have deep pockets. More than two-fifths describe their budget as being a major factor when deciding on a trip. Yet on average, they have around £5,500 to spend. They invest in travelling in comfort and are prone to luxury services such as upgraded tours and activity packages. Despite the lavish spending, 97% of Baby Boomers spend time to find the best possible deal for their trip and its activities before booking.

As a generation representing a sizable chunk of our global population, Baby Boomers will continue to have an impact on the travel and tourism industry. They will consistently demonstrate their spending power investing in experiences much like younger generations, as they work through their bucket list itineraries.

baby boomer bucket list

Gen X

Amidst raising families, maintaining their careers, and home-ownership, the notoriously underlooked Generation X should be of keen interest to Travel Marketers. They are a generation who wield high spending power as they enter the peak of their careers. While Millennials are starting to overtake their spending, Gen X has reigned supreme when spending on travel for a considerable amount of time.

With family commitments, including children who are often in school, Gen X spends the least time travelling of all generations. They knock up a total of around 26 days per year. Those 26 days tend to work around the school calendar. This means that when travelling, Gen X tends to do so during peak times.

But what are Gen X’s motivations for travelling? Well, relaxing and unwinding, visiting and travelling with family and sight-seeing all rank amongst the biggest motivations for making a trip.

So, what sort of holidays are they taking and where are they going? 35% of Gen X report planning multi-generational trips. This means that the kids are tagging along and spoiling all of mum and dad's fun!

gen x family travel

It also means resorts and cruises with a dedicated kids club are hugely popular among Gen Xers. However, Gen X also see significant birthday and anniversary milestones as the perfect excuse to get away from home for a long weekend. Travel Agent Central notes that it is becoming increasingly popular for them to make these trips accompanied by groups of friends or other couples.

gen x celebrating

In terms of where Gen X is travelling, Europe is incredibly popular with the UK, France and Italy being frequented the most. Stateside visits and visits to the Caribbean and Mexico are also hugely popular.

Just like Millennials and Generation Z, you can find Gen Xers browsing social media for travel ideas and inspiration. However, they are likely to be found on different platforms than younger generations.

You won’t find them hooked to Snapchat, now will they be screenshotting inspirational photos from Instagram. Instead, you will find them looking through Pinterest and Facebook. These user-friendly platforms are found to be most useful as well as perfect connecting with contacts and sharing ideas.

travel planning Gen X

Gen X is typically associated as being a budget-conscious generation, yet they do spend more money per day on their travels than any other generation. This could be attributed to the fact that they are often taking financially dependent children as they are still very savvy when it comes to booking.

93% report looking for the best deal before booking while 55% use OTAs to find out info about packages and deals available to them

While comparatively little is known about Gen X to marketers, what we do know is that they are inclined to travel and have deep pockets when it comes to doing so and we would be foolish to ignore them and their spending power as a travel customer.

We explore this audience group in more detail in this blog post: Marketing to the Masses: Generation X


With their spending power ever increasing, Millennials are a hugely important market for travel. They are not currently the highest-spending generation when it comes to travel. However, in the coming 5-10 years, we can expect them to take up this mantle.

As the generation currently driving trends and growth in the travel industry, it should come as no surprise to learn that Millennials are travelling more frequently than any other generation, amassing an average of 35 days per year.

Millennials are always searching for the best possible deal and are more likely to book during winter sales, as well as booking in the off-season to reach their dream destination.

millennial dream destination

There is an underlying trend in understanding what sort of holidays Millennials are taking, and why they’re taking them. That trend is that "for the generation growing up during the crash of 2008, happiness is no longer focused on possessions or career status. Millennials don't want to wait to live their life when they’ve retired."

In the eyes of Millennials, happy and meaningful life is a life full of experiences and memories that they can share with their friends.

Social media has given us showboating travellers who are prominent amongst Millennials eager to show off their experiences in remote, hard to reach areas of the world while they look for authentic moments and connect with people and cultures and live like a local.

millennial remote travel

They use social media platforms as a means of advertising themselves as well-travelled and cultured. Participation in activities such as yoga retreats and cooking holidays are increasing as they look to confirm that. Furthermore, the rise of social media has affected what sort of holidays young adults are taking. Notably, there has been a decline in the number of party holidays Millennials are taking.

Party holidays were once a debaucherous rite of passage after major life events such as the completion of exams, graduation from university, and stag weekends. These days, young adults are acutely aware of the image of themselves portrayed online to family, friends and prospective employers.

Just 36% of Millennials report enjoying these types of vacations. In turn, we have seen a surge in city break vacations, preferred by 71% of this generation.

Millennials are a generation with a large presence on social media. As far back as three years ago, Comscore found that 97.6% of UK Millennials are reachable across multiple social networking platforms.

Millennials tend to be influenced by general social content and influencers.

89% report that they plan their travel activities based on content posted by peers online. Facebook and Instagram, in particular, hold considerable influence on this generation's travel decisions.

51% state Facebook as an influence, 29% cite Instagram as an influence.


Moreover, travel-specific social media sites such as TripAdvisor resonate profoundly with the Millennial audience, nearly two-thirds using the platform to assist in making travel decisions.

While they are yet to enter the peak of their careers in terms of financial take-home, Millennials spend a significant amount on their travels, 33% are willing to spend more than £4000 on their vacations. Despite this, we can infer that they are spending less money per holiday as they are taking an average of 5.6 trips per year, a figure significantly higher than that of Gen Xers (4) and Baby Boomers (3.5).

We can continue to expect that Millennials will redefine travel trends in the coming years as their spending power increases. We would expect them to be vastly different from preceding generations upon reaching later life stages and this will have a marked effect on the travel and tourism industry.

millennials travel

Gen Z

The world has never appeared smaller than it has done through the eyes of Gen Z. Born as the worlds very first generation of smartphone natives, they have no memory of a world without the internet. This technology has fostered a curiosity about the world surrounding them. After all, with less being unknown about the world, it is harder to fear it.

Already representing 32% of the global population with their oldest members barely into their twenties, Gen Z is already averaging 29 days of travel per year. Unsurprisingly much of this travel is being sponsored by older generations such as their Gen Xer parents with 42% indicating that travelling with parents allows them to go on trips they’d otherwise never be able to afford.

gen z travel

While Gen Z is projected to become the largest group of travel consumers in 2020, it’s oldest members are still finding their feet in the jobs market, and many don’t possess an income at all. With this in mind, it should come as no shock to know that they don’t yet wield a tremendous amount of direct spending power. As a result, 81% acknowledge that budget is a significant factor in their budget while 93% spend time searching for the best possible deals.

So where does Gen Z travel on their shoestring budget? What are their motives for travelling?

Well, many are still undecided about where they want to visit on their travels, which presents a fantastic opportunity for marketers to entice them.

What we do know is, like other generations before them, Gen Z loves travelling to relax, sightsee and visit family. Taking this one step further, research from Unidays highlights eating out, sightseeing, visiting museums and outdoor activities as the most popular pursuits on their trips. Interestingly, 37% also intend to volunteer while travelling. When asked to prioritise though, once-in-a-lifetime trips and bucket list experiences came out on top for Gen Z.

With this in mind, solo travel and backpacking trips are increasingly popular, more so than they were with Millennials. 83% want to explore outdoors and stay active when they travel, 78% trust recommendations from locals to go off the beaten path while 52% want to visit or trek to an extreme location. These are all activities that can often epitomize the backpacking experience.

Research from finds that 1 in 3 mean to travel solo while 1 in 5 are planning a solo backpacking trip/gap year.

Backpacking trips, in particular, are being seen as the embodiment of stretching Gen Z’s limited budget. Hostel's, camping, Couchsurfing and volunteering are all proving popular, wallet-friendly ways of extending their travel time.

Gen Z continues to visit destinations typically popular with older generations. Trips to Europe, the United States and South-East Asia are still incredibly popular. However, Gen Z is also displaying heightened interest in Latin American countries. A destination hugely popular with backpacking crowds.

gen z backpackers

“Gen Z pretty much goes through every decision they make, every activity they do, every trip they take, with the lens of: how can I create a permanent moment using social media?”

More than any other generation, when it comes to deciding on travel destinations, Gen Z are swayed by digital influencers. 45% of Gen Z are following more than 10 of these modern celebrities, 1 in 10 are following more than 50.

With this in mind, reaching out to Gen Z via influencers and micro-influencers is one of the most convenient ways of resonating with this particular market segment.

Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, in particular, are incredibly popular with Gen Z. Instagram specifically has emerged as having the largest growth of any social media platform and is a haven for UGC, micro-influencers and travel inspiration. Research from market research consultancy, The Leading Edge highlights Instagram as the number one platform for travel inspiration. 50% of their research sample designate Instagram as providing the best travel inspiration.

Gen Z will redefine how we use technology throughout the travel industry, never knowing a world without the internet personal travel blogs and imagery will take centre stage on their adventures with creating and posting such content is more accessible than ever before. How their travel behaviours develop as they accumulate more spending power will be interesting to see, but for now, they seem a generation firmly fixated on experiencing as much of the world as possible, even if it means travelling on a tight budget.

gen z social media

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