It used to be you couldn’t wait to get away from the family but, oh my, how things have changed.
Millennials aren’t just staying at home much longer – now they’re travelling with their parents. And not just down the coast.
Cruises, adventure travel and global luxury destinations are all showing a definite uptick in young adults holidaying with the family.
A recent study of 1000 adults aged 18 to 29 showed that just over half (51 per cent) of those surveyed had gone on an all-expenses-paid holiday with their parents since turning 18.
Half of those surveyed said their main reason for holidaying with their parents was “to share more quality time with the family”, though 33 per cent acknowledged they “enjoyed being able to travel without spending their own money”. (Well, you would, wouldn’t you?)
The survey, by social research group McCrindle for P&O Cruises, supported the trend the cruise line had noticed on board.
“We’re seeing more and more parents travel with their adult children on our ships,” P&O Cruises Australia president Sture Myrmell says.
“There was an 18 per cent increase in the number of 18- to 29-year-old guests travelling with their parents during the peak summer period last year compared to 2016.”
Is it just the money?
Given the generational financial divide between often-affluent baby boomer parents and their more financially cash-strapped millennial children, it’s easy to see money as part of the equation.
As social researcher Mark McCrindle says: “Young Australians experience many financial pressures today so parents are playing a key role in helping their adult children save, study and, now, travel.”
But it’s not just millennials and their parents travelling together.
Everyone is doing it
One of the biggest trends in tourism is multigenerational travel, with family groups across several generations heading off on all types of exotic holidays.
Intrepid Travel, which specialises in adventure travel, had a 30 per cent increase in multigenerational bookings from 2017 to 2018. Young children, teenagers, aunts, uncles and grandparents – they’re all heading off together.
We’re talking cruises down the Nile, camel rides in Jordan, temple visits in India, hiking in the Pyrenees and going off-grid in Asia.
“There is a real trend where families are longing for immersive cultural experiences, which allow the entire family to learn and connect with the destination and locals,” says Dyan McKie, a specialist in Intrepid’s Family Travel division.
“We’re seeing bookings that include children, their parents and their grandparents, or children travelling with their grandparents without their parents. And they are seeking meaningful family trips.”
Luxury travel for the whole (extended) family
The luxury end of the market is also enjoying the same kind of growth.
Global travel network Virtuoso, a expert in high-end luxury and experiential journeys, lists multigenerational travel as “the leading overall trend” in its 2019 Luxe Report. It also notes that the biggest family travel trend is for adventure and active trips.
“For a country where almost 60 per cent of the population has a passport, it’s no surprise Australian families are travelling together and seeking out some of the most interesting and unusual destinations on offer,” Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch says.
Travel has also become celebratory.
“Family trips are perfect for celebrating milestones such as birthdays and anniversaries and bonding over shared experiences,” Mr Upchurch says. “It’s ultimately about creating family memories of a lifetime.”
Why multigenerational travel is booming
Money aside, more than 80 per cent of the respondents in the P&O survey said they enjoyed travelling with their family.
But it’s fair to assume it’s not just a one-way street: There are potentially benefits for everyone.
Travelling in a group can spread the love, and the load, around. If it’s young children and grandparents in the mix, grandparents usually love being with the children. (Built-in babysitters? I didn’t say that!).
The difference between generations also seems more fluid these days in terms of social activities. People tend to be more relaxed on a holiday, so it’s more likely everyone will get along.
And keeping up with the younger generation can add extra spark to a trip. Of course, there can be the stress of expectation and “Are we having a good time yet?”
For some older family members, including those who live alone, travelling in a group means they have company to go on a holiday that they might not take otherwise.
Sharing experiences in unique settings can make this type of travel even more memorable.
As it’s a growing trend, more agents, tour groups, cruise ships and others are catering for multigenerational travel, which makes organising it easier.
And who pays? While boomers may pay for millennials, the oldest generation are also sometimes taking everyone on the trip.