Study: Gen Z travels a lot despite having little money

Gen Z travelers
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They may not have a lot of money, but Gen Z sure likes to travel.

A new Morning Consult survey found that despite their youth and comparatively low income, more than half of American Gen Z adults -- those born between 1997 and 2012 -- are frequent travelers, having taken three or more leisure trips in the past year.

The data suggests that's because traveling is more mainstream now, and Gen Z-ers are broadly exposed to travel inspiration through social media.

"While their initial entry into the category was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the youngest generation of adults is making up for lost time by traveling enthusiastically and often," the survey noted.

When it comes to taking frequent trips, Gen Z-ers (52%) are traveling more than Gen X-ers (41%) and baby boomers (35%), and are on par with travel-happy millennials (52%), according to the survey.

While the most frequent leisure travelers tend to be the highest earners, the same doesn't hold true with the youngest generation. The survey points out that 61% of Gen Z-ers who took three or more leisure trips in the past year come from households earning less than $50,000 annually.

"What this suggests is that the youngest generation isn't waiting until they have a certain amount of income or savings to see the world; they're finding ways to fit it into their budgets now," the survey said.

As for where they're going, the survey suggests Gen Z-ers favor longer trips to new destinations -- with 15% of Gen Z travelers saying their next leisure trip will last longer than two weeks, a higher share than any other generation.

While all frequent travelers rank their top three travel motivators as relaxing, escaping/getting away and spending time with loved ones, those factors are less relevant for Gen Z-ers. Instead, they are more motivated by every other factor, particularly experiencing adventure, improving mental health and seeking out cultural experiences, according to the survey.

"To be sure, some of these differences are driven by the relative youth of these travelers, but the idea of going on a trip to better your mental health is one that is sure to stick with the generation as they age, given the growing prevalence of discussions about mental health in today's culture," the survey noted.

This adventurous, open mindset manifests in Gen Z travelers' behaviors, with many more likely to say they're traveling internationally in the coming year than frequent travelers from other generations, the survey shows. Gen Z is also the only group that was more likely to say they'll visit a destination they've never been to rather than revisiting a familiar location.

At the same time, Gen Z still enjoys structured trips. According to the survey, 52% of frequent Gen Z travelers said they'll go to a national park in the next year, 54% said they'll go to a resort, and 55% plan to go to a theme park.

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