Travel & Hospitality

What Each Generation Wants on Vacation

May 2024

Report summary

In the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of travel, understanding the preferences of different generations is crucial for brands to survive. Each generation brings its own set of life stage factors, expectations and desires to the table, creating a complex map of consumer preferences to fulfill.

As travel brands seek to build relationships with their current consumers and attract new ones, they must recognize that what appeals to one generation may not resonate with another. While cost-conscious Gen Zers are looking for deals and offers for example, millennial parents seek room to spread out on trips with their families (perhaps including their baby boomer parents), and Gen X empty nesters set out on solo expeditions.

Morning Consult’s report What Each Generation Wants on Vacation examines the attitudes, behaviors and expectations of travelers across all four major generations of consumers. Based on monthly survey interviews from October 2021 to March 2024 with around 2,200 U.S. adults each, this report provides insight into how these consumers interact with the travel industry and what they want from brands.

Key Takeaways

  • Travelers are not a monolith, and a traveler’s generational identity influences their vacation expectations, behaviors and preferences.
  • Gen Zers are an important segment for travel marketers — 48% say they’ve taken a domestic trip in the last month alone.
  • Millennials seek out new, far-flung locales, with 28% saying they’ll visit somewhere they’ve never been to before in the coming year.
  • Gen Xers are becoming empty nesters and their travel habits are evolving as a result: 26% plan on taking a solo trip in the next 12 months, up 5 points since tracking began.
  • Baby boomers are most trusting of mainstream travel brands; 77% trust chain hotels and 68% trust airlines. But newer entrants to the category need to earn their confidence.

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This report is grounded in research conducted from October 2021 to March 2024 among roughly 2,200 U.S. adults per month.

The interviews were conducted online, and the data was weighted to approximate respective populations of adults based on gender, educational attainment, race and region. Top-line results from all surveys have margins of error of up to +/-2 percentage points.

About the author

Lindsey Roeschke is a travel & hospitality analyst. Lindsey’s work focuses on behavior and expectations in travel (among other categories), particularly through a generational and cultural lens. In addition to her research and advisory background, Lindsey has more than a decade of experience in the advertising world.