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Survey reveals Dream Destinations of American Travelers

A survey of American travelers reveal dream destinations of American travelers, their intentions for traveling, and their preferences & amenities that they look for.

Vrbo® revealed findings from the survey of American travelers conducted by Ipsos. The survey showed the stage of life we’re in significantly impacts the reasons we travel, what we’ll sacrifice to get away, and what we look for when we get there. “Forget what you thought about millennials traveling on a shoestring,” said Karen Fuller, senior director of global market research at Vrbo. “Our results revealed that they are actually the most likely to go into debt for travel, which is consistent with the notion that millennials like to accumulate experiences, not things.”

Among all survey respondents, Australia was the top dream destination. However, the country was only the 18th-most-visited destination by American travelers in 2018, according to Expedia data. The disparity between dream and reality signals that barriers of time and money are the deciding factors for whether Americans will take that dream vacation. This holds true for every age group except millennials, who are the group most likely to go into debt for travel (37%) compared to Generation Xers (27%) and baby boomers (15%).

While domestic travel destinations topped the list for all survey respondents, there was a variation between age groups when it came to international travel. For millennial travelers ages 18 to 34, the top dream destination was Italy by more than 9%. Interestingly, respondents 35 and older chose Australia as their dreamiest destination.

Why we travel

Millennials are the most likely to travel for exploration (45%), but as the survey revealed, travel isn’t always about adventure, especially as we age. Our travels are often tied to important moments in our lives, celebrations of life events, and key milestones. This trend is especially true for Americans aged 35 to 54, the group most likely to be traveling for a special occasion (20%). Of the 20% of respondents 35 to 54 years old who said they’ll travel for a special occasion in 2019, 44% said the special occasion is a milestone event, such as an anniversary or a birthday. Even more interesting is that baby boomers are the least likely group to be traveling for a hobby or activity (6%), like skiing, surfing, or hiking. By contrast, 23% of millennial respondents said they’ll travel for hobbies or activities in 2019.

Preferences and amenities

Not surprisingly, accommodation preferences reflect the starkest generational differences among American travelers. Millennials are most likely (71%) to consider unique lodging options, such as boats or treehouses. They’re also the age group most likely (25%) to take into account design and architecture when choosing a place to stay. Generation Xers voiced the strongest preference for having ample space for everyone in the party. And for baby boomers, noise level is more important when selecting lodging than for other age groups.

Internet/WiFi access is the single-most important accommodation amenity for American travelers, outranking traditional must-haves like TV and air-conditioning. While traveling, Americans would rather sweat through the night than miss a tweet. WiFi is so important that 75% of travelers said they’ll seek lodging with Internet/WiFi access, while only 59% percent said they expect an accommodation to have a TV. For millennial respondents, the gap was much wider than for any other age group: 72% said they want online access, and 41% said having a TV was important.

Although our travel preferences change as we move through life’s stages, American travelers are united by a common desire to travel with friends and family and to relax when traveling. All three age groups saw an increase in travelers who said they’ll travel with a group of four or more this year compared with last year, up 2%, and 52% said a family vacation is their reason for travel this year. All respondents rated relaxation as their primary reason for travel, indicating a healthy desire to disconnect from the stress of our daily lives and reconnect with family and friends while away.

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