Bob Dylan is often mentioned, quoting what he sang back in the Sixties: “The times, they are a-changin’.” And, of course, in terms of mobility, vehicle technology and traveling trends, today the revolution has perhaps only just begun.
Let’s start with the interest of millennials, that generation that was born in the 1980s and early 90s whose attitude to discover the world differs from the habits consolidated in other age groups. A cohort that has irreversibly changed international tourism, and whose concerns and habits when traveling are different from those of previous generations.
The car, slowing down among young people
One of the most obvious changes has to do with driving. Studies such as the one recently published by the United States Federal Highway Administration are quite revealing in this regard. In the US, a driver’s license can be obtained from the age of 16. In 1997, 43% of young people obtained it at that age and at 17 62% got it, while between the ages of 20 and 25 the rest also got it, reaching almost 90%.
However, now things are different and at 16 only 25% of people have it, reaching 45% at age 17 (compared to the 62% mentioned in the late 1990s). This is reflected on the Coches.com page and in other specialized publications, which also highlights the preference of this segment of the population for alternative options such as electric scooters, bicycles, carsharing —with 15 million users throughout the world— or shared mobility from various online platforms.
As they say on the website Coches.com, “there was a time when we anxiously awaited the time to reach the age of majority for various reasons. Many doors were opened to us, but one of the most important was being able to drive.” This has changed in a generalized way in almost all of the West.
Public transport as a priority
The disaffection of this generation with driving compared to their predecessors obviously influences them when choosing their means of transport. At the company We Road, specialized in travel for millennials, they tell us that, especially when traveling internationally, once at the destination, young people prioritize travel by local public transport. In short, it is about “having a true immersion, and for that it is essential to draw up a mobility plan that allows us to know which routes are the most appropriate, in addition to knowing the road and traffic regulations of each of our destinations to travel in the safest way.”
And what are millennial trips like?
“There are European studies that tell us that, in Europe, more than 60% of millennials are not in a stable relationship, which can often make it difficult to organize holidays with friends because they are in a relationship, because they have children, because of time constraints or because they don’t know until the last moment the days available to make plans”, adds Laura Pérez.
Pérez’s company was created in 2017 precisely to connect all these people who, alone or with other people, want to share their journeys by establishing new connections, in small groups and with similar interests, thus enhancing the individual experience with the added value of interaction with others. Because, yes, it is well known that the car and other means of transport promote socialization and can even serve as a place to hang out or do karaoke.
An infinite summer and other successful destinations
Adventure trips are the most demanded by the millennial community. In 2023, says Laura Pérez, “tropical destinations and endless summers will be the most popular (Cuba, Thailand, Bali, Costa Rica…)”. Another hallmark is the absence of borders, also very typical of the so-called Generation Y. And to this we must add flexibility, last-minute changes, the personalization of each getaway and the variety of options to escape from everyday life and savor the authentic customs —the genuine, the local— of the chosen city or country.
“Wow moments!”, as described by We Road: “Those experiences that are part of the itinerary and that represent the best moments for travelers.” Exciting surprises — “the Wow Experience” — like trekking at dawn to see a spectacular sunrise in Iceland. Without a doubt, times have changed… And Generation Z, which is younger than the millennials and the next to emerge on the scene, is also making a strong impact.
Yes, Dylan is almost always right…
Governments, tourism entities and the automotive industry closely follow social changes; in this case, the habits of millennials. A generation that takes seriously the famous words of the writer Hans Christian Andersen: “To travel is to live”. But they do it by looking for unique experiences. Of those that —hopefully— leave a great cultural legacy for the future.