After moving abroad post-college graduation and traveling through Europe for the first time, I had a funny question for my parents: “How did you travel before the Internet?”
I felt silly asking it. I know people were able to make travel plans before the age of Wi-Fi, but after relying on the Internet so much for trip research, bookings, and directions—all things I handled completely by myself—I couldn’t imagine not having all those online resources constantly at my fingertips.
Fast forward several years, and now the art of traveling has changed even more, especially when it comes to Millennials, who increasingly represent the largest travel demographic in the world. We’re doing things our way—here’s how:
1. We’re not willing to wait
Blame it on entering the workforce during an economic crisis or the fact that the Internet has made the world a much smaller, more accessible place, but we’re not waiting for our “golden years” to travel the globe. We want to take advantage of what the world has to offer while we know we have the time and money to do it.
2. We dream of traveling longer
Additionally, we’re not satisfied with a yearly two-week beach holiday. While zoning out as the waves lap at your feet may be good for a little while, Millennials want to travel longer and deeper instead of simply having a “nice” vacation. The recent Millennial Traveller report from WYSE Travel Confederation found that the average trip length for Millennials was 46 days!
3. We travel with our tech at all times
Yes, it can be a bit obnoxious—why travel to another country if you’re just going to stay glued to an iPhone? But, we use technology before, during, and after our trips to help create our own experiences, find things not mentioned in traditional guidebooks, keep track of our travel plans with TripIt and stay connected with friends, family, and even work.
4. We go where the Wi-Fi is
If a hostel or hotel doesn’t have free Wi-Fi, then forget about it—how are we going to use our iPhones and laptops to plan the next leg of our trip?
5. We’re searching for authentic experiences
While there’s a time and place for package holidays or organized tours, we prefer to take things into our own hands. The more authentic the better.
6. We rely on reviews
Online review sites, recommendations from friends, suggestions from family—we’re doing our research and looking for honest reviews before we decide on everything from the destination of our next trip to where we go for our morning coffee once we’re there.
7. We forgo luxury to be with the locals
Instead of 5-star hotels, we’re using Airbnb to find a cozy apartment or staying with (friendly) strangers through Couchsurfing. Instead of private drivers and shuttles, we’re calling a cab on Uber. Instead of fancy restaurants, we’re using social networks, review sites, and apps to go eat where the locals go.
8. We’re always sharing
The good and the bad. Sunny trip pictures will be instantly uploaded to our Instagram and Facebook accounts, while we interact with companies on Twitter for comments or complaints.
9. We may spend less, but we’re not cheap
Sure we may not have the biggest savings or best jobs just yet—you can thank student loans and the economy for that—and we may be known for our backpacking ways, but we’re simply being smarter with our money and trying to make it go further. An expensive hotel room may not be at the top of our agenda, but we’re willing to splurge when it comes to unique activities or experiences. Plus, since we like traveling longer, we’re spending more money along the way.
10. We’re always ready to go
Who says you have to plan a trip far in advance? According to Priceline, 73 percent of Millennials are happy to drop everything for a last-minute vacation and get out of town on a moment’s notice … would you?