Business travel will always be business travel; families will never stop going to Disneyland and Disney World; exotic beach locales will continue to be popular among those looking to get away.
But we’re seeing a surge of popularity among a different kind of travel, and we owe that surge to the burgeoning Generation Yers who’s graduating from college, entering the workforce and starting to spend their discretionary income on travel.
These are people who have gone through their education expecting to find jobs after graduation that will help them make the world a better place. They want all aspects of their lives to be more meaningful than those of generations before them, and that includes the trips they take in their spare time. They don’t just want fun trips. They want their vacations to mean something to them, and even to the world, or their corner of it.
If our 20-somethings have taken a job where they’re commuting by car or train to work every day, working in a corporate setting, dealing with the bureaucracy that their parents before them did, grinding it out…when they get to vacation, they’re really looking for an experience.
So they may pack up and head for somewhere exotic, but not in the way traditional travelers do. They’re looking for active experiences — from hiking and biking to riding in helicopters and ziplining — that will help them see the world in a new ways that literally take their breath away. It could be a trip down the Amazon, taking a motorcycle trip through Australia, or hiking in South Africa.
This generation is one that’s very affected by the state of the world around them. Living in America, it can be difficult to feel like it’s possible to make a difference in the day-to-day lives of those suffering in places beyond our borders.
On vacation, the last thing these travelers want is to feel like they’re on a guilt trip, escaping to the lap of luxury while people and natural life around the world suffer. So other travelers (Generation Y and beyond) may choose to pursue mission trips, using their time away from work to help those who are less fortunate, to build something that will help others. They may be building houses in Mexico, caring for orphans in Haiti, or helping NGOs in Africa provide healthcare. But they’re off doing something to help people live better lives.
Chances are, these travelers are packing lighter, but they expect to come home with so much more under their belts than a few souvenirs.