TRAVEL A TOP PRIORITY FOR JOY-SEEKING GEN Z
Our Global Youth Culture Uncovered report this year found, amid a macro landscape of uncertainty, fear, anxiety and instability, core common truths in how youth audiences all over the world were coping. In short, this is through the pursuit of everyday, simple and fun moments of joy. When we look at the key areas where young people are seeking joy, we see travel and moments of discovery topping their priorities for 2023 and beyond. It’s not hard to see why; after nearly 3 years of curtailed movement and missed personal & group milestones, Gen Z’s youthful and instinctual need for adventure, exploration and cultural immersion has helped shape how they want to spend their time now and next. We see this perspective emerge in many parts of life and decision-making - with that burning desire for travel and discovery influencing career choices, university plans, budgeting, socialising and entertainment plans.
TRAVEL AND PURPOSE: IMMEDIATE NEEDS VS. ASPIRATION
Travel plays an important part in helping younger people express their personal values; seen as an essential way to meet new people, experience romance and learn about other cultures. However, news of the hottest global temperatures recorded this summer has prompted soul-searching for travellers of all ages. There is a growing aspiration among many types of travellers to intentionally take a lighter approach to adventure - with younger travellers aspiring to make more sustainable choices by avoiding overcrowded tourism hotspots and opting for more conscious transport plans.
There’s a tension between the urgent need to have fun, let loose and forget about the world’s problems - while also aspiring to make more sustainable decisions and being confronted with the impacts of climate breakdown and injustice while travelling. To address this we see younger travellers look to balance their choices - take their trip to Ibiza but keep other travel choices to more local destinations; reducing air travel over the course of a years travel choices; opting for slower methods of travel where time is not pressing - travelling to festivals, gigs and weddings by ferry or train over the course of several days instead of speedy flights.
THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL
With new outlooks and behaviours, comes the emergence of new norms and future-trends. Here are some key travel insights we found across The Love Network:
Less Planning, More Spontaneity: The old pandemic cycle of planning and broken plans has left its mark on the younger traveller. With more flexible working environments, hybrid and remote-first jobs, we’ve seen a shift to more spontaneous planning preferences (although there’s always one mega planner in the Whatsapp group!). Apps like SRPRS allow prospective travellers to choose essential criteria (like excluding cities, sustainable-only operators or sleeping in luxury) and leave the rest up to the app to decide. With a few key items in their travel bag, many younger people travel light - essentials are few, but include phones, Revolut/Monzo access, and mobile device chargers. With tight budgets, younger travellers want to make the most out of what they have, and save cash to spend on physical, tangible moments to make new memories.
“When I am travelling, I mean all I really need is my phone…💯” Donna, 28, The Love Network
“I always bring my diary so I don’t forget any of the memories I’m making…” Niamh, 25, The Love Network
Passion-first destinations: With Youth passions for learning and meeting new people, travel is considered the perfect way to expand horizons and the friendship circle. Preferring to choose destinations based on opportunities to engage with local culture we see a trend away from the ‘typical’ tourist routes and instead seeking out places rooted in passions (i.e. making the trip to South Korea for eSports championship finals, or to Japan for the Formula1.) Key personal values also transcend both life at home and when travelling; if you’re into fitness, then your gym gear is probably coming with you. If you’re a sustainable advocate, that may be key to your choices. Skincare lovers decant and bring their expensive SPF products with them as optimal sun-protection now becomes a non-negotiable.
“My must-have travel essentials are headphones, a battery pack and training gear. Chest Monday takes priority, even on holidays 😤” Sean, 25, The Love Network
“I literally don’t leave my front room without sunscreen, there is no way I am going on holiday without high SPF, glasses and coverups!” Ciara, 22, The Love Network
Enjoyment of savvy, simple pleasures: While Gen Z are the most technologically, digitally-connected modern audience in the world, they also are highly aware of the need to unplug meaningfully - especially when travelling for relaxation, or re-connecting to nature and the outdoors. This recognition of the simple, but authentic pleasures to enjoy while travelling means that sometimes the simpler option is best; enjoyment of physical books over Kindle-style devices; bringing their favourite tea with them for the perfect morning refreshment, and planning excursions, outfits and accessories focused on comfort, practicality and ease. Brands like Olend bags have come up as the ideal example of functionality and fun for travel.
“My essentials are my film camera, notebook and sunglasses.” Luke, 26, The Love Network
“You don’t even need a passport to travel this wonderful Isle [at home]!” Andy, 30, The Love Network
Tap into the travel mindset all year round:
From the normalisation of everyday sun protection to more spontaneous trips and savvy essentials, travel & discovery themes provide an opportunity for brands to explore content in an always-relevant way. Maybe you could bring the summer’s favourite cocktail trends to everyday life back home or consider travel-friendly packaging and options for bringing your products on the road?
Make your brand or product the savvy essential:
We know that younger travellers like to travel as light as possible by packing only ‘essentials’. To be considered an essential, show how your products can be multi-use, and how they tap into passions which power discovery. A great example of this is our work with Barry’s Tea in crafting a new consumption moment for the younger tea drinker on the go!
Explore the tension to develop more sustainable destination-marketing solutions:
Rather than shying away from the tension between real life and sustainable aspiration, we see opportunities to provide solutions which give added value by not forcing audiences to choose between a sustainable lifestyle and enjoying life. We love the recent move by France Tourism to tackle over-tourism in popular areas like Paris, by promoting less well known locations for visitors to travel to across the country.