Airbnb Millennials study: Travel more important than saving for a home

Most Millennials would prioritize travel over buying a home or paying off debt, according to new research released today by Airbnb. The study of the world’s largest generation, now aged 18-35, was conducted in the US, UK and China to understand their attitudes and priorities around travel. It highlights the importance Millennials place on travel, particularly in China, and how they are looking to build their own adventures through unique experiences.
 
The rise of the Chinese Millennial traveler
A key finding of the research is how important travel is for Chinese Millennials, with more than nine in 10 (93 percent) saying it’s an important part of their identity. Chinese respondents to the survey ranked travel higher in importance than any of the other priorities listed, including paying off debt, investing or saving, buying a home or new home, or buying a car or new car. 
 
If they were to suddenly receive a windfall of roughly the equivalent of $10,000, 44 percent of Chinese Millennials would spend that money on travel, again the top choice. Three quarters also said they prefer to build their own itineraries rather than take packaged tours, and 94 percent want unique travel experiences.
 
Airbnb’s own data shows staggering growth of 356 percent among Chinese Millennials using our platform over the past year. More than eight in 10 (83 percent) of Airbnb users in China who have made at least one booking are Millennials, the highest proportion of any country. Globally, approximately 60 percent of Airbnb guests are Millennials.
 
“Generation Experience”
The survey reinforces the theory that Millennials are more interested in spending money on experiences than ownership. Millennials in the US and UK, like their counterparts in China, ranked travel higher in importance than buying a home or new home. When it comes to what they are saving for, UK Millennials also rank travel above paying off debt, while in the US, Millennials are balancing a desire to travel with concern for reducing their levels of debt. School debt for US Millennials has doubled in less than a decade, from $35 billion in 2007 to $69 billion in 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal. 
 
Most Millennials are spending more on travel than a year ago
The average Millennial surveyed across the three countries takes roughly three to four trips a year. For most of them, money rather than time is the bigger hindrance to traveling more and, among those who feel they don’t have enough money to travel, nearly nine in 10 would travel more if they had more money. More than half of Millennials in the UK (55 percent) and US (56 percent) and 83 percent of Millennials in China say that they are spending more on travel than they did a year ago.
 
Goodbye, packaged holidays
Millennials want to build their own itineraries and create their own adventures which are local and authentic, according to the research. More than eight in 10 of those surveyed across the countries say that they are always looking for a unique travel experience. Three quarters or more in each country prefer to create their own itineraries rather than leave it up to a packaged tour company.
 
Living like locals 
Eight in ten or more of those surveyed in the three countries say that the best way to really learn about a place is to live like the locals do, and more than half in each country would rather stay in cool local neighborhoods even if they are far away from tourist attractions. Majorities of Millennials in each country would choose meeting people when traveling over bringing back souvenirs.
 
Food appears to be a key component of the local experience. By a three-to-one margin, Millennials would rather try local foods and local restaurants as opposed to places they recognize from home. 
 
The poll was conducted by GfK from September 27 to October 12, 2016. Approximately 1,000 interviews per country were conducted online among Millennials in the US, UK and China. The final data in each market was weighted by age within gender to match population parameters in each country. In the US, data was also weighted by race/ethnicity and education. Click here for more on the survey.