Gen Z Travelling: How to plan trips for the youngest generation

Generation Z is the newest generation of travelers on the scene, and they’re distinctly different from Millennials and the other generations before them. So how does a travel consultant help plan trips for this generation, especially when they may not have any experience or knowledge of Gen Z travelers?

That’s where this guide comes in.


According to a YouGov poll conducted in July 2022, Gen Z will account for 40 percent of the consumer market in the United States and 34 percent of the US workforce by 2030. They’re also willing to spend more money on experiences than things, something travel definitely benefits from.

The difference between Millennials and Gen Z travelers

Millennial is the term for people born between 1981 and 1996, while Gen Z refers to the generation born immediately after, between 1996 and the early 2010s. Even though these two generations mix in the form of siblings, other family relationships or at school, they are distinctly different generations when it comes to travel.

Adam Armstrong, CEO of Contiki, explains that millennials are far more willing to plan their vacations further afield, to take advantage of vacation times, or to travel for specific events, such as during a summer vacation or for a honeymoon.

Gen Z travelers tend to take a much more flexible approach.

“When analyzing Gen Z travelers, we often see a trend toward more spontaneous bookings with shorter lead times compared to Millennials, who prefer to plan ahead according to their allotment of vacation days and planned life events,” said Armstrong. “Now that work from anywhere and gap years are more common, Gen Z travelers are more likely to choose to travel alone rather than waiting for someone to be available. They are looking for more adventurous travel destinations than generations before them, looking for places and experiences off the beaten track that offer the immersion they desire.”

Both generations seem to value sustainability and cultural immersion: they don’t want someone to hold their hand during their vacation, just guiding them to the most popular attractions without experiencing a real part of the destination they’re visiting. In short, they are the most inquisitive generation of travelers ever.

Woman interacts with a monkey in Bali, Indonesia
Woman interacts with a monkey in Bali, Indonesia. (Photo via filipefrazao/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

However, because Millennials work longer hours, they tend to have higher incomes and are therefore generally willing to spend more on their travels, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Gen Z travelers aren’t willing to do it all. for that bucket list experience.

“This generation is not afraid of adventure and stepping into a new land,” Katie Lynn Reynolds, travel consultant at Travelmation. “They want to experience everything on their journey and have the time and the financial means to do so. Millennials can be similar, but I find Millennials aren’t as adventurous or curious. They are more cautious and put a lot of emphasis on safety.”

So while there are definite similarities between these two generations, their approach and travel desires will likely be slightly different.

Gen Z and using social media while traveling

One of the most notable differences among Gen Z travelers is their trust and use of social media. Whether it’s TikTok or Instagram, Gen Z travelers often see certain attractions, resorts or destinations from travel influencers and want the exact same experience.

Armstrong, CEO of Contiki, knows this firsthand, as Contiki specializes in offering tours to young people: “Generation Z has incorporated social media into their everyday lives, which is heavily influencing their travel behavior and decisions,” he said. “In recent years we have seen a major shift in travel destinations being overexposed by social media, ultimately contributing to over-tourism and overcrowded experiences. Today, Gen Z travelers appreciate trips where they can not only see bucket list destinations, but also experience off-the-beaten-path destinations that allow them to delve deeper into the culture of the country and see the destination through the eyes of too experience a local.”

Stay connected on social media
Stay connected on social media. (Photo via VioletaStoimenova / getty images)

This is something that many travel consultants experienced in planning trips for this generation have seen.

Sydne Stubbs, Travel Advisor at Those Who Wander Travel explains: “A lot of these Gen Z travelers are heavily influenced by what they see on social media and they are usually not open to suggestions based on what we know. They saw a property or destination on TikTok and they know THAT is what they want!”

However, she also explains that her clients are often surprised by the price of this experience and that this is where the advice of a travel consultant can be helpful.

“Even though Gen Z travelers come to us thinking they know what they want, I think it’s still important to educate them to be travel consultants based on what we know,” Stubbs continued. “A destination can look absolutely stunning on social media, but we travel consultants know these destinations and places to stay first hand. Get to know the customer you’re talking to and determine if it’s actually a match for them. Your client may not be open to your suggestions, but it’s important that we let them know what to expect. Instagram vs Reality if you may!”

According to the YouGov survey, Gen Z travelers are far more willing to seek advice from friends and family (50%) than an expert (16%) — which is why social media is such an important tool for travel consultants can use to reach this generation.

The Nitty-Gritty: Travel Planning Advice for Gen Z Travelers

So you’ve found yourself with a Gen Z customer or two. What now?

The first thing to do, and this is advice for each of your customers, is to listen to their travel needs. Learn what they specifically want from their trip and, as mentioned by JoAnne Weeks, Director, Vacation Division Acendas Travel, work with them rather than telling them what to do.

Referrals that aren’t requested aren’t likely to be as helpful with this generation as they are with others: they don’t want someone holding their hands and letting advisors do the hard stuff without them. Instead, they are more likely to participate in the necessary research and share their thoughts as they do so.

They’re also more likely to choose less-visited destinations and more transformative experiences where they feel like they’re coming home to memories that will last a lifetime. They don’t just tick boxes off their bucket lists.

“Gen Z travelers seem to be skipping ‘the classics’ and heading to more exotic places that I know I never dreamed of going to when I first started traveling,” said Carly Heyward, travel agent, Flight of the educator. “I think they’re really starting to prioritize travel in ways that we’ve never seen before. It’s probably a mix of being available and prioritizing mental health.”

Travel agency working from home
Travel agency working from home. (Photo via Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

While planning travel for this generation may pose different challenges than planning travel for other generations, it ultimately pays off because this generation of travelers is loyal once convinced of a great travel experience.

“The key for travel consultants working with Gen Z travelers is to stay on top of trends to be able to deliver the most relatable and best experiences…” said Adam Armstrong. “Connecting with clients through social media allows travel consultants to reach new audiences and learn what they are passionate about in a way they can understand. Gen Z is loyal, which means that if they’re happy with their travel experience, they’re likely to do it again in the future and tell their friends about it.”

Planning travel for your first Gen Z clients can be difficult, but they’re an avid travel group with a passion for how travel helps people learn, grow, and make a positive impact on the world. As this generation grows older and more important in the travel industry, it’s important to take the time to grow your online presence as a travel consultant.

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