Skift Take

Millennial parents have a lot in common with their generational peers without kids, but they also have some unique travel preferences and values. Their impact on the family travel segment is just beginning.

With the oldest millennials turning 39 years old in 2020, it’s not surprising that most members of this generation are parents, and many more will be in the coming years. Yet when millennial travel habits are discussed in the industry, their perspectives as parents and family-travel decision makers are often overlooked.

The latest report from Skift Research, Millennial Parents: The New Generation of Family Travel, sets out to uncover the travel behaviors, preferences, and values of millennial parents. Utilizing data from our proprietary 2019 Millennial and Gen Z Traveler Survey, we compare millennial parents to millennial non-parents in the five countries where responses were collected: the U.S., UK, Australia, China, and India. Finding the big trends across countries as well as the key differences reveals some noteworthy insights about this demographic. For example, millennial parents are more optimistic about their future travel spending than their non-parent peers, they’re more interested in many types of trips and trip activities, and they show more concern about the environmental impacts of travel, as well as more willingness to try to mitigate it.

We combine these findings with perspectives from in-depth interviews with family travel experts to contextualize how millennial parents are changing the family travel segment. The report ends with five best practices for travel industry stakeholders who want to tap into this growing demographic.

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Types of Trips

There are certain types of trips that are traditionally associated with family travel, especially cruises and vacations to family-centric, all-inclusive resorts. These types of trips usually offer kids (and parents) some amount of freedom that they may not have otherwise, and often include childcare and socialization opportunities. As millennial-headed families continue to take up a larger share of the family travel market, they are expanding the scope of what family vacations can be, and they are also forcing these traditional options to evolve to keep pace.

This isn’t to say that cruises and all-inclusives will disappear from the picture completely. In fact, our survey shows that millennial parents are more likely to report that they had gone on a cruise in the past year compared to non-parents. In China and India, the portion of millennials in general, and parents in particular, who have gone on a cruise in this time frame is especially large.

Exhibit 26: In all countries, millennial parents are significantly more likely to have gone on a cruise in the past year. In China and India, parents are about twice as likely to have gone on one than those in the other three countries.

Amanda Dunning of G Adventures explained how the curious, experience-thirsty tendencies that millennials are likely to exhibit are pushing the boundaries of what a family vacation can be: “We’re moving away from those all-inclusives and those cruises or things like that that’s been traditionally what families have thought about. And travelers nowadays are more interested in getting to know a destination and experiencing it … They want to experience the culture and they want to pass those things along to their kids that are traveling with them too.”

Our survey revealed that millennial parents are more likely than their non-parent peers to have taken other types of vacations. While not all of the trips they reported were necessarily family vacations, these results show us that even if they travel without their children, millennial parents are more likely to expand their trip horizons beyond a single trip type. For example, in all countries except the U.S., parents are significantly more likely to have gone on a vacation in order to attend a specific event in the destination, and they are also more likely to have taken a wellness trip in the past year than millennial non-parents are.
Exhibit 27 and 28: Millennial parents are more likely to have gone on certain types of trips, like those to attend certain events in the destination as well as wellness trips. Those in China and India are especially likely to have done both.

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This is the latest in a series of research reports aimed at analyzing the fault lines of disruption in travel. These reports are intended for the busy travel industry decision maker. Tap into the opinions and insights of our seasoned network of staffers and contributors. Over 200 hours of desk research, data collection, and/or analysis goes into each report.

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Tags: children, family travel, millennials, skift research

Photo credit: Most millennials today are parents, and they're changing family travel. A young dad plays with his son on the beach. Pixaby / Pexels

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