America’s fastest growing tourism demo are traveling more than ever. And 44% of them are hitting the road with kids in tow, too. It’s just one of the key insights in our new (and free!) ‘Future of U.S. Millennial Travel’ Report.

By Chris Fair

Quick—what comes to mind when you think of a Millennial traveler? Probably something clichéd, like a young couch-surfer checking off places on her bucket list as she turns to the sun and smiles (thankful for the warmth but also for not having to use a filter on the photo she just took). Or maybe a 30-something tacking on a few extra vacation days to a business trip to subsidize some much-needed adventure.

What probably doesn’t come to mind is a young family of three or four visiting a faraway beach resort, exploring an Asian capital or checking into an all-inclusive hotel, strollers and pool toys weighing them down.

But with a bulk of travelers aged 20 to 36 today entering the realm of parenthood and making quality family time a top priority, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Our research shows that Millennials aren’t just traveling more than ever before; 44% of them are traveling with kids in tow, too. And those destinations that look past the Instagram-obsessed clichés can tap this ever-growing market.

It’s one of the biggest insights in our new Future of U.S. Millennial Travel report, the free 70-page resource packed with myth-busting revelations and blueprints for capturing America’s fastest growing tourism demographic.

Future of U.S. Millennial Travel

U.S. KIDS ARE GROWING

According to our research, more than half (58%) of U.S. Millennials who traveled overnight last year have children under 18 years of age in the household.

Once kids enter the picture, Millennial parents continue to travel, and their appetite for exploring new places and immersing themselves in different cultures doesn’t abate. In fact, our research shows that in the next two years, close to half of Millennial travelers plan to take family vacations.

Turns out that family travel is the most popular type of vacation among this demographic group. It makes sense for this generation of adventurers who seek authentic experiences and have a deep appreciation of other cultures to want to raise well-rounded children. For them, travel is one way to do that.

PREFERRED TRIP TYPES

So where are these Millennials with children traveling to?

Our research shows that 41% of them are visiting beach resorts, followed closely (36%) by those choosing major metropolitan cities as primary destinations. Interestingly, Millennial families are not shying away from visiting foreign countries, either. In fact, that’s where a quarter of them choose to vacation. A report from the 2016 TMS Family Travel Summit concurs: “Millennials with children are traveling more internationally than any other demographic group and taking more than one vacation, often an adventure trip.”

Future of U.S. Millennial Travel activities

Like their peers without kids, Millennial parents peruse their fair share (37%) of online peer reviews and ratings on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp as well as social media postings (29%) by family members and friends to help them figure out where to travel. For them, safety is the #1 concern when choosing a vacation destination.

PRE-SCHOOL SOJOURNERS

Considering that most of these Millennial parents have only recently had children, the most surprising revelation isn’t where they’re going but that 62% of Millennial parents are traveling with kids under the age of five, according to insights by D.K. Shifflet & Associates. It makes sense though, since kids under five aren’t yet bound by a school calendar and its limited vacation times.

According to MMGY’s 2016 Portrait of American Travelers, Millennial families represent 16% of all active travelers and account for around 9.5 million households in the U.S.

Millennial families reported that they intend to spend more on vacations, and they also tend to spend more on leisure travel than their single and couple counterparts.

In 2016, Millennial families went on 36.9 million vacations, spending $50.4 billion, according to MMGY. According to their research, U.S. travelers in general intended to travel 6% more in 2017, but Millennial families intended to travel a whopping 35% more.

TRAVEL AS AN INVESTMENT ACROSS GENERATIONS

Millennials, who themselves seek different types of travel experiences, are clearly eager to share those experiences with their kids. Family trips are one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry, and even though the average vacation in the United States costs $4,580 for a family of four (according to American Express Spending and Saving Tracker), parents are willing to spend that money on something they feel is important to their family.

“If you look at family spend as a pie chart, we definitely see more people valuing experiences, so travel spend actually is going up,” says Caroline Shin, travel expert and CEO/“Chief Vacation Officer” of Vacatia, a booking service touted as the Airbnb for family-oriented resort rentals.

If you’re like us, you might be wondering how Millennials are paying to partake in these all-inclusive journeys to exotic lands. Our data shows that of those who take family trips, 34% go on multi-generational vacations, which might mean grandma and grandpa are the ones footing the bill.

TRAVEL IS A PARENTAL BADGE OF HONOR

But as Millennial families acquire wealth and the kids in the household get more curious about the world, they’re likely to venture out even more and their bucket list will grow. African safaris, Arctic cruises (“Before it melts, Mom!”) or Inca Trail treks become more doable. And desirable.

After all, many networked parents subsist on a daily feed of single and kid-less friends posting from coveted locations around the globe. Do not underestimate the Millennial FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) or, for that matter, the bragging rights that come from showing friends (and every follower) that hard-earned GoPro photo of little Declan posing at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Or that drone shot of the family finally making landfall on the Galapagos.

That’s not to say that the days of making the obligatory pilgrimage to The Magic Kingdom are over—far from it. But this next generation of family travelers is sure to travel more often and further afield than any other generation of families before.

To learn more about The Future of U.S. Millennial Travel, you can download the full, free report here. 

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