The Millennials Who Want to See the World


According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, Millennials report a greater desire to visit every continent than preceding generations, and appear to harbor a greater interest in cultural experiences and international travel.

In the survey, individuals ages 18-34 years old report a greater desire to travel abroad than other generations by a 23 percent margin, with only minor life-stage effects, such as waiting to have children or purchasing a home later in life.

Isabel Sterne, 25, of Bozeman, Mont., was a working woman in New York City before volunteering with Peace Corps for a year in southern Namibia. While abroad, her main responsibility was to provide health education to members of the community, including information on substance abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention.

"It was a tough decision to leave everything I loved in New York and set out to the unknown," Sterne said. "It's freeing, scary, and none of us know what to do, so I think a lot of Millennials use travel as a way to better understand themselves and their dreams outside the pressure of American life."

Despite a gloomy job market with a crushing 11.7 percent unemployment rate, entry-level occupations and $322 billion held in student debt, Millennials still view travel as worth the price. Travel spending by these younger individuals rose 20 percent in 2010, making them the fastest-growing age segment, according to American Express Business Insights.

Facebook has also taken notice.

Last year, their data team analyzed the types of memories shared on the social networking site and produced an infographic indicating that travel stories comprise 42 percent of posts on the average user's timeline.

"Books, music, everything is dematerializing, it's turning virtual and travel is increasingly playing a role in how people represent their identity," Andy Murdock, U.S. Digital Editor at Lonely Planet said. "It's not just bragging, it's sharing that they are volunteering, learning a new language, stating who they are."

The economy is likely contributing to the trend.

Absent a family to care for or a mortgage to pay, some Millennials are searching for work experience that can be applied to future jobs rather than join the droves of traditional job seekers struggling to find work at a greater rate than any other time in recent history.

"Travel is something that can be built into your resume, if you do it well," Murdock said.

Meet Plan Go is one website that offers a 'how-to' for those who want to take a break from their career and travel the world. They encourage individuals to look at a gap on their resume as life defining, rather than life defeating, according to their website.

Nicole Campoy, 27, now an editor with Fodor's Travel, wasn't sure what direction to take post-graduation and eventually decided to travel for four months, spending time in Hong Kong, Italy, Portugal, and England.

"If I thought about it for five minutes, I could think of 15 countries where I have friends I can visit and even stay with," Campoy said. "In this day of constant and immediate sharing, the world starts to seem like a more accessible place. If someone can Instagram from Nepal, why can't I go to Nepal?"

Postponing traditional life goals like finding a steady job or graduate school while virtually liquidating your savings is indeed, a big decision.

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