Young Families Are Spending, Traveling Despite Projected Slowdown

NEW YORK– In a year of projected slowdown for travel, young families in the so-called “Millennial” generation are going to spend more and travel more than all other generational segments according to MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers survey. This year’s survey predicts that the approximately 60 million traveling households in the U.S. will spend up to $5 billion less on leisure travel, which shows a less than 1 percent dip from its eight-year high in 2016. The 9.5 million households that are American Millennial families, however, intend to spend 19 percent more on vacations during the next 12 months and intend to travel 35 percent more than the previous year.

The responses come from 2,902 U.S. adults surveyed this year who have taken at least one overnight trip that is 75 miles from home in the past 12 months. The study measures more than 2,000 variables to analyze American travelers’ perceptions of travel, planning priorities, and emerging vacation behaviors and inclinations.

“Travel remains an important part of American family life, especially for younger families. Vacations in the U.S. are gaining importance across all generations, but Millennial families are continuing to travel domestically and internationally,” said Clayton Reid, president and CEO of MMGY Global. “Travel marketers should view Millennial families as an opportunity segment, not only because of their size and purchasing power, but because that segment is only going to expand.”


Millennial families are defined as adult couples born after 1979 who are either married or unmarried and living together with children aged 17 or under currently in the household, and they make up 16 percent of all American travelers. These families went on a combined 36.9 million vacations and spent $50.4 billion on leisure travel during the past 12 months, and they are the driving force behind growth in travel this year. While U.S. travelers only intend to travel 6 percent more this year, Millennial families intend to travel 35 percent more and spend 38 percent more on their family vacation than Millennial couples not bringing children, and 88 percent more than Millennial singles.

More Millennial family vacations are to international destinations than the vacations of couples or singles, despite an overall shift in travelers’ preferences towards domestic. Domestic vacations now make up 85 percent of American vacations, up 7 points from last year. Nearly 14 million more vacations were taken within the U.S. vs. outside, and more travelers are exploring new domestic destinations (40 percent vs. 34 percent last year). Domestic destinations accounted for 79 percent of millennial vacations, vs. 85 percent for Gen Xers and 90 percent for baby boomers. In the past year, 39 percent of American vacations were road trips, way up from 22 percent the previous year.

About 41.5 million households visited at least one attraction while on vacation and took a combined 150.9 million vacations, spending $306.1 billion on leisure travel during the past 12 months. More than half of all vacations include at least one visit to an attraction, and 68 percent of travelers chose the majority of attractions they would visit before the vacation began. Top-ranking attractions showcase an interest in education and culture with art and history museums (65 percent), aquariums (59 percent), and science museums (56 percent) coming before theme parks (55 percent). More Millennials visited at least one attraction on vacation in the last 12 months than did older generations.

In 2017, American travelers overall reported spending an average of $4,833 on vacations during the previous 12 months, a significant drop from $5,048 the year prior. And, for the first time since 2013, travelers report an intention to spend an average of $18 less on travel than they did during the previous year.

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