One of the added delights of the holiday season is the chance to catch up with some of the neighborhood kids who were fixtures at our house when our two daughters were growing up. They’re scattered all over the country, from Seattle and Portland to Florida and California’s Bay Area.
Now and then it works out that a couple of them are home at Christmas and can stop by for a visit. What impresses me about my daughters’ generation — my kids are both millennials born in the mid- to late-1980s — is their love of travel, and how those travel experiences have shaped their world view. Both of our daughters have traveled a good bit; though our older daughter has been all around the world and wouldn’t hesitate in the least if an opportunity arose to go to Antarctica.
According to a Forbes article, millennials are “wildly different” from older generations. “Their demand for memorable moments and activities over material goods has created what many call the experience economy,” Forbes noted. “Travel, the ultimate experience, has continued growth as a result.”
Bloomberg reports that millennials represent the largest generation to date, making up 31.5% of the world’s population, at 7.7 billion young people. Yep, they’ve overtaken the multitudes of us baby boomers as the largest living generation. Millennials have an estimated $200 billion of spending power, so of course travel companies and tour promoters are very interested in this generation.
With all of this market potential, millennials’ spending habits are being studied very closely, and marketing firms are quick to point out that millennials spent $200 billion on travel in 2018, and about a third plan on spending more than $5,000 on their next vacation.
Market researchers are in it for the money, of course. But I see bigger benefits to travel that can’t be measured as easily. From my observations, young people who have seen some of the world tend to embrace diversity and other cultures. And they look beyond their own backyards as they consider the world’s woes, be it climate change or politics. This travel trend is evident on the job applications we get at the Daily Inter Lake for reporter positions. More often than not, these aspiring writers are very well-traveled. Many have studied or lived abroad, and it brings a big-picture perspective to reporting that often can’t be learned in textbooks.
I love the famous quote by Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”
And I’ll throw in this gem by Saint Augustine: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”
Travel is one of those rare things that can open minds and hearts.
News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or firstname.lastname@example.org.