Millennials are shaking up their vacations

Putting the kids in the station wagon, packing a picnic basket full of bologna sandwiches and heading down Route 66 is a romantic idea, but it’s one whose time has passed. 

We may get a week or two of paid time off once a year (oh, were we so lucky to live in Sweden, where six weeks is the standard!), but we seldom take it. The 2017 Alamo Family Vacation Survey says that Americans are reluctant to take those long vacations, partly due to a tendency on the part of our co-workers to shame us for taking the time off, even if we have it coming. We do take vacations, but they are shorter than ever, with the average hotel stay for both international and domestic trips for American travelers at just 2.2 nights.

The good news is that even though our trips are shorter, we’re taking more of them. Millennials would rather take multiple shorter trips, than a single longer vacation, according to a Priceline survey. The booking site’s Traveler’s Sweet Spot survey says 83 percent of millennials would prefer to take more shorter trips than a single longer one, and notes that the “sweet spot” is seven trips per year. It seems like a lot – but Lonely Planet notes that the “feel-good” afterglow of a good vacation just doesn’t last as long with shorter trips, and like a good high, you need to take more frequent vacations to maintain that level of happiness.

We may need seven vacations a year, but few actually take that many – and the Alamo survey notes that over half, or 59 percent, of millennials feel guilty about taking a vacation. Those over 35 on the other hand, are more likely to feel that time off is their due, and only 41 percent of that demographic experience guilt.

Another important trend is that more millennials are blurring the lines between work and vacation, something that is more possible today in an era where remote working, constant texting and easy email rules the day, whether you’re at your desk or not. The concept of “bleisure” – business and leisure – has become the Next Big Thing in travel, with more millennials combining business trips with pleasure, often adding an extra day to a business trip just for sightseeing and relaxation. It seems that one way or another, millennials – even though they don’t drive station wagons any more – are getting their vacation time in.


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