Millennial and Gen-Z consumers consider travel their top discretionary purchase this year.
Alexandria, VA—The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is the world’s leading association of travel professionals. In consumer research released today, the Society has found that Americans are already spending far more on travel than other large discretionary purchases this year.
A majority of Millennials and Gen-Z respondents are planning to increase their travel spend even more in the coming months. Research also found half of Americans are more likely to use a travel advisor than they were in the past.
Travel is the American Consumer’s Top Choice
47% of survey respondents ranked a vacation as their top discretionary spend—twice as many as the second choice, a home improvement or renovation (23%) with a new computer third (10%). That gap between vacations and the second choice is consistent across all generations.
The number of Americans who intend to spend more on travel has increased 17% since late 2022. That intent is highest among the Millennial and Gen-Z demographics. Those younger generations are 22% more likely than the average American to spend more on travel this year.
More than just intent, 63% of respondents have concrete travel plans between now and 2023 and 39% have spent more on travel so far this year. The number of average actual business trips (among self-identified business travelers) skyrocketed by 54% in the last six months while leisure travel trips saw a 14% increase.
Travel Advisors Cut Through the “Complexity” of Modern Travel
A large majority of Americans (68%) agree that “planning a trip is more complex now.” From travel advisories and various restrictions to airline fees and delays/cancellations, consumers want to travel but find it increasingly confusing.
Travel advisors are the key to cutting through that complexity. 50% of people are more likely to use a travel advisor today than they were in the past—a 14% increase year over year.
The study also showed 8% increases (49%) in agreeing with the statements, “in today’s environment, the expertise of a travel advisor will put me more at ease about my travel plans,” and “utilizing a travel advisor to plan my dream vacation is a great way to find the best value for my travel investment.”
54% specifically agree that, “a travel advisor can cut through some of the issues regarding airline fees.”
Cruising and International Travel Outpace the Field
When asked what types of vacations respondents were planning, the number of Americans planning a cruise has jumped 40% since last year’s survey.
Meanwhile, 30% of Americans have some type of international travel plans in 2023 with Millennials and Gen-Z travelers being the most-eager to travel abroad in the short term. When asked about traveling internationally in 2024, that number jumps to 42%.
Outside of the continental United States, Hawaii (65%), Italy (53%), the Caribbean (52%), Alaska (51%) and Australia (51%) generated the greatest excitement among travelers. However, Western Europe is the region of the world that respondents are most likely to visit next (25%). London, Paris and Rome were the first-choice cities for a European vacation. Domestically, Las Vegas, Orlando, Nashville and San Diego led the way.
Other Notable Findings
—62% strongly agree that “There’s no social media substitute for going out and seeing the world.”
—78% agree that “Now, more than ever, a vacation would do wonders for my mental health
—64% agree that “Traveling is the best quality time I can spend with my family.”
—60% of Millennial and Gen-Z respondents have a “bucket list” (a formal or informal list of places they’d like to travel to in their lifetimes)
Commentary from the CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors:
“Our research clearly shows that Americans are increasingly excited to travel and are turning to travel advisors to ensure they are getting the experiences they deserve,” said Zane Kerby, President and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors.
"These numbers bear out what I hear anecdotally from our members and their clients almost every day. More and more, Americans realize there is no substitute on the computer screen for the experience of traveling. This is true for leisure travel as well as business travel. I’m especially excited to see the 40% increase in those planning a cruise vacation and the 54% increase in business travel.”
A slide deck presentation can be found here.