Generation Y and Luxury Travel?

Some are starting to claim that Generation Y travelers tend to spend more money on luxury services than baby boomers. I was interested in this, because some of the luxury services that the studies have claimed include things like dry cleaning—not something I think of much as a twenty-something. I thought I would ask some of my friends who also like to travel whether or not they agree with this information. What I found out didn’t really surprise me much. Most of us weren’t really willing to foot the bill for luxury services, especially when we could spend that money on something else—like putting together another trip.

However, after looking into it, I found an article by Nicole Petrak for the Atlantic to be interesting. Our priorities as Generation Y travelers have changed. Because we are always looking for a unique destination, we are willing to spend more in order to achieve it. Petrak also argues that we require a more authentic experience than many travelers in the past, opting for services that encourage reality. Looking for this kind of experience can indeed be more expensive, so they actual trip itself could be considered a “luxury,” especially if we take a few several times a year. However, authenticity doesn’t always mean luxury—and I find when I am choosing my own travel experiences, I usually try and pick a locale that will give me a more local flavor of the country rather than simply the tourist attractions, but that is also fairly inexpensive.

One of my favorite trips was an unexpected one to Greece. I stayed in a tiny hostel on top of a hill in Thessaloniki, and attaching the word luxury to any of it would have been a blatant farce. But it was more “authentic.” I met actual Grecian citizens who liked hanging out at the hostel because they liked meeting new people, I tried foods unavailable to me anywhere else. The most luxurious part of the trip was a dinner with my friend at Thessaloniki’s most expensive restaurant—which I think we paid twenty-five Euro each.

Which isn’t to say that if I were traveling with my parents, I wouldn’t take advantage of luxury services (wine bar, anyone?). However, when spending my own money on the road, as several of my friends also concluded, the more luxurious the services, the less “authentic” our experiences tend to be. When it all comes down to it, I can see Generation Y paying more for the opportunities to travel to new places—and less on a massage at a fancy hotel or spa.

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

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