Forget the Nightclub: Gen-Z Travellers Want to Sightsee and Try New Food

Either the world is changing, or Gen-Z is starting to look more like their parents.

A new study finds Gen-Z travellers are more interested in trying new foods, or, gasp, sightseeing than they are in hitting the nightclub.

A new global report from StudentUniverse, a Flight Centre Travel Group company and the world’s largest student and youth travel marketplace, today’s Gen-Z travellers are more culturally aware, open to new experiences and willing to dig deeper into the places they visit. Compared to past generations, the biggest appeals now for young travellers are sightseeing (70%) and experiencing new culture (68%), followed by trying new cuisines (59%), exploring nature (58%) and meeting new people (37%).

For the most part Gen-Z aren’t interested in travelling for nightlife and clubbing, with just 21% claiming an interest in such things while on vacation.

Will Jones, Brand Manager at StudentUniverse said, “It wasn’t too long ago that the 18-30s travel market was practically synonymous with raucous partying, gleeful disregard for inhibition and a seemingly inexhaustible ambition to experience the world’s worst hangover. That’s no longer the case for today’s Gen-Z generation – they are seeking much more meaningful, educational experiences from their travels.”

From ditching the party scene to their stance on their impact on the environment, the report found that Gen-Z is the generation creating big shifts in the travel space.

The report revealed that, despite financial concerns, Gen Z is not going to let an economic crisis impede their wanderlust. With 87% of respondents indicating that vocational travel (such as working holidays and study abroad) is important for their career and 78% indicating a desire to enjoy new experiences, the jury is in and Gen Z has ruled that travel is worth the investment.

The findings were released 27MAR as part of the company’s The State of Student & Youth Travel in 2023 survey, which delves into the traveller sentiment of those aged 18-25.

“Student and youth travelers make up a significant portion of the overall global travel landscape, accounting for a quarter of all international arrivals around the world,” Will said. “From weekend city breaks to long-haul overseas experiences, young people have a hunger to travel and after the last few years of travel restrictions, that hunger is stronger than ever.

Gen-Z Remains Resilient & Undeterred

Gen-Z showed the highest propensity to get back out and travel as requirements began loosening during the pandemic and with an estimated disposable income over $400b it’s a demographic the travel industry shouldn’t sleep on. Despite being budget conscious, student and youth travelers spend three times more on a trip than the average international traveler and although 76% indicated that financial costs were their greatest concern about traveling only 8% indicated they would stop traveling altogether due to finances. Gen-Z believes where there’s a problem there’s a solution 65% indicating they will aim to find the cheapest option and almost half (46%) indicated they would expect to get assistance from a parent or guardian.

Gen-Z Travelers and the Climate Crisis

The study also reveals that despite Gen-Z being a highly environmentally conscious generation, most young travelers are not letting climate change limit their travel plans. Nearly half (49%) of student and youth travelers say that global warming has had little or no impact on their desire to travel, and just 23% say they would be likely to pay to offset their carbon emissions when booking travel.

When it comes to what worries this demographic the most about traveling, just 15% cited their impact on the environment, ranking it as the lowest concern, while the biggest was financial cost (76%).

Overseas Experiences Improve Gen-Z Career Prospects

One of the key findings of the report is that the vast majority of Gen-Z view travel as a fast track to success at work, with 87% saying that overseas experiences would improve their career prospects. A further 78% claim a desire to partake in vocational travel, such as working holidays and volunteering, if given the opportunity. This backs the general trend of a shift away from hedonistic, party-orientated vacations to more purpose-driven, immersive experiences that can continue to deliver benefits long after they’ve finished.

Young LGBTQ+ Travelers’’ Concerns

Homosexuality is still criminalized in 68 countries – more than a third of the world’s total – and the report reveals that the vast majority (82%) of Gen-Z say their willingness to visit a country would be impacted by its laws and attitudes on issues like LGBTQ+ rights.

StudentUniverse surveyed 4,000 students around the world to come up with their findings.

Jim Byers

Jim Byers is a freelance travel writer based in Toronto. He was formerly travel editor at the Toronto Star and now writes for a variety of publications in Canada and around the world. He's also a regular guest on CBC, CTV News, Global News and other television and radio networks.

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