Don’t Overlook Gen Z

Despite financial concerns Gen Z is not going to let an economic crisis impede its wanderlust.

In a new global report from StudentUniverse — a Flight Centre Travel Group company — 87% of respondents indicated that vocational travel — such as working holidays and study abroad — is important for their career and 78% indicated a desire to enjoy new experiences, making it clear that Gen Z sees travel as being worth the investment.

The findings were released as part of the company’s The State of Student & Youth Travel in 2023 survey, which delves into the traveller sentiment of those aged 18-25.

According to the report, today’s Gen Z travellers are more culturally aware, open to new experiences and willing to dig deeper into the places they visit. Compared to past generations, the biggest appeals now for young travellers are sightseeing (70%) and experiencing new culture (68%), followed by trying new cuisines (59%), exploring nature (58%) and meeting new people (37%).

For the most part Gen-Z aren’t interested in travelling for nightlife and clubbing, with just 21% claiming an interest while on vacation.

Will Jones, Brand Manager at StudentUniverse, observed that: “It wasn’t too long ago that the 18-30s travel market was practically synonymous with raucous partying, gleeful disregard for inhibition and a seemingly inexhaustible ambition to experience the world’s worst hangover. That’s no longer the case for today’s Gen-Z generation – they are seeking much more meaningful, educational experiences from their travels.”

From ditching the party scene to their surprising stance on their impact on the environment, the report found that Gen-Z is the generation creating big shifts in the travel space.

In the new report, StudentUniverse’s aim was to discover what drives young people to travel, where and why they are going, and how they make the best of their experiences.

Gen-Z showed the highest propensity to get back out and travel as requirements began loosening during the pandemic and with an estimated disposable income over $400 billion it’s a demographic the travel industry shouldn’t sleep on.

Despite being budget conscious, student and youth travellers spend three times more on a trip than the average international traveller and although 76% indicated that financial costs were their greatest concern about traveling only 8% indicated they would stop travelling altogether due to finances.

Gen-Z believes where there’s a problem there’s a solution with 65% indicating they will aim to find the cheapest option and almost half (46%) indicated they would expect to get assistance from a parent or guardian.

The study also reveals that despite Gen-Z being a highly environmentally conscious generation, most young travellers are not letting climate change limit their travel plans.

Nearly half (49%) of student and youth travellers say that global warming has had little or no impact on their desire to travel, and just 23% say they would be likely to pay to offset their carbon emissions when booking travel.

When it comes to what worries this demographic the most about travelling, just 15% cited their impact on the environment, ranking it as the lowest concern, while the biggest was financial cost (76%).

One of the key findings of the report is that the vast majority of Gen-Z view travel as a fast track to success at work, with 87% saying that overseas experiences would improve their career prospects.

A further 78% claim a desire to partake in vocational travel, such as working holidays and volunteering, if given the opportunity. This backs the general trend of a shift away from hedonistic, party-oriented vacations to more purpose-driven, immersive experiences that can continue to deliver benefits long after they’ve finished.

Homosexuality is still criminalized in 68 countries – more than a third of the world’s total – and the report reveals that the vast majority (82%) of Gen-Z say their willingness to visit a country would be impacted by its laws and attitudes on issues like LGBTQ+ rights.

Will noted that: “Student and youth travellers make up a significant portion of the overall global travel landscape, accounting for a quarter of all international arrivals around the world. From weekend city breaks to long-haul overseas experiences, young people have a hunger to travel and after the last few years of travel restrictions, that hunger is stronger than ever.

He continued: “To put together this report, we spoke to and surveyed 4,000 young students around the world and gained insight from leading experts within the travel industry. Our findings have proven just how determined Gen-Z is to travel and the extraordinary value they bring not just to the travel industry, but the world at large.”

The report also reveals insights on student mobility, where students want to go, perspectives on travelling for education, purpose-driven vocational travel, the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis and predictions for the next decade.

Go to for the full report.