Millennials and Gen Z Seek Human Connection Through Small-Group Travel

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 27, 2024 15:30 PMNews
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In the hyper-connected digital age, many millennials and Gen Zers are experiencing an unexpected side effect: loneliness. Despite being constantly online, young people are increasingly feeling isolated, a phenomenon exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To combat this loneliness, they are turning to small-group travel as a means of finding genuine human connection.

Intrepid Travel, which offers small-group tours in over 100 countries, including Morocco and Sri Lanka, reports a surge in interest from young travelers. Matt Berna, Intrepid Travel's president of the Americas, told Business Insider that these travelers are prioritizing experiences over traditional milestones like homeownership.

Group travel often conjures images of large, impersonal tours, but Intrepid Travel focuses on intimate groups, usually comprising about 10 people. This approach allows travelers to immerse themselves in local cultures by dining at small restaurants and staying in family-owned hotels, avoiding the typical tourist traps.

Berna highlights the special camaraderie that forms in these small groups, something that young travelers, especially those aged 18 to 29, crave after the isolation of the pandemic. These tours offer plenty of free time for personal exploration and active outings, appealing to young adventurers.

Intrepid Travel has also noticed an increasing number of travelers in their early 30s seeking off-the-beaten-path adventures. This age group, much like Gen Z, values immersive and experience-driven travel. According to American Express Travel’s 2023 Global Travel Trends Report, nearly 80% of millennial and Gen Z respondents expressed a desire to experience daily life like locals in their travel destinations.

Airbnb has also seen a rise in interest for immersive experiences, with a reported 102% increase year-over-year. Unlike older generations who plan vacations around famous landmarks, younger travelers book trips based on interests such as cycling, camping, festivals, and local cuisine. They aim to be trendsetters, exploring new and unique destinations that offer bragging rights and stories to share with friends.

South America, particularly Peru, and South Korea have become popular destinations for these travelers. South Korea, noted for being more affordable than Japan, saw a 172% increase in bookings from 2022 to 2023. As travel resumes post-pandemic, young people are eager to reconnect with both new friends and diverse cultures.

The trend of small-group travel highlights a shift in how younger generations approach travel, emphasizing meaningful connections and authentic experiences over traditional sightseeing. This movement towards intimate, immersive travel experiences not only alleviates loneliness but also fosters a deeper appreciation for the world's diverse cultures.

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