Jul 09

Generational Travel Trends Show the Stark Differences Between New and Established Travelers

New research from Hostelworld, the world’s leading hostel-focused online booking platform, reveals the latest travel trends amongst American travelers. These findings stem from the company’s recent ‘Evolution of the Hostel Traveler’ report which showcases how the budget-conscious international traveler (also known as a backpacker), and their journey has changed from generation to generation and how it will continue to evolve in the future.

American women leading solo travel globally

The report reveals that globally, three-quarters (75%) of women have gone on or are planning solo travel trips, compared to only two-thirds (67%) of men. Hostelworld’s own booking data reflects this trend with bookings made by solo female travelers increasing by 88% over the past four years.

In the United States, the disparity between women and men is the most apparent. In fact, 45% more women are going on extended hostel trips than men. Moreover, it seems that American women are leading the charge globally as the nationality making the most solo travel bookings with 20% made by American women, followed by Germany (11%), UK (10%) and Australia (8%).

Top destinations by generation: Dreams vs. Reality

Whilst Europe was popular among travelers, Hostelworld saw a 230% increase amongst younger generations in venturing to Africa. However, while one in five Millennials (18%) and Gen Z (21%) travelers reported that they would like to explore the continent, research found that these travelers are currently traveling to European countries, such as Poland, Greece, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Considering Gen Z’ers are looking to explore beyond traditional routes, with a 27% decline in trips planned to ‘tried and tested’ destinations when compared to Gen X; Hostelworld predicts that Gen Z travelers will inspire old and new generations to meet the world.

Motives behind American travel

Hostelworld found that 30% more Millennials, reported the need to escape and de-stress compared to older generations. When looking at ways in which accommodation amenities influence traveler bookings, Millennial preferences proved to be the most complex. Hostelworld found that American Millennials are more interested in accommodations that offer social, eco-friendly and co-working features, compared to the past generation of travelers.

Similarly, future travelers want to meet new people from all over the world, with a fifth (20%) ranking social space as the most important consideration when choosing where to stay – an area where hostels excel. Another strong appeal factor that’s seen a steady increase throughout the generations is the free activities hostels offer their guests. From free beach yoga to local cooking classes, the importance of free social experiences in hostels has increased by 25% for today’s backpackers, as one in five (21%) say they’re attracted to hostels offering these, over those that don’t.

“Our Evolution of the Hostel Traveler report shows how much hosteling has changed in the 20 years that we’ve been operating as the world’s leading hostel-focused online booking platform,” says Gary Morrison, CEO, at Hostelworld. “This is only the beginning of what’s to come. Today we’re seeing a booming hostel industry, as global demand to explore the world and connect with new cultures continues to rise. Travelers are evolving, and so are the hostels where they’re staying, which is why I am excited to see what the next 20 years will bring”

Find the full ‘Evolution of the Hostel Traveler’ report here.


About Hostelworld  

Hostelworld, the largest hostel-focused booking platform, inspires passionate travelers to see the world, meet new people and come back with extraordinary stories to tell. Hostelworld customers are not your average tourists; they crave unique experiences that Hostelworld facilitates with the best choice of hostels around the world. It’s the social nature of hostels that turbo-charges their global adventures and empowers them to Meet the World.  

Hostelworld has more than 11.5 million reviews across 16,500 hostels in more than 179 countries, making the brand the leading online hub for social travel. The website and mobile app operates in 19 different languages.   

The Hostelworld Group went public in November 2015, listing on the main London and Dublin stock exchanges. Headquartered in Dublin, Hostelworld has offices around the world in London, Shanghai, Sydney and Porto.

About the research: Hostelworld worked with Censuswide to survey over 5,000 people aged 16 and over across the USA, UK, Australia, France, Germany, India and Brazil. See below for background on breakdown of generation sample groups:

  • Past = People aged 40+, who have been backpacking, i.e. a multi-destination trip for 3 weeks or more and stayed in hostels/backpacker’s shared room accommodation, when they were between the ages of 18 and 25 
  • Present = People aged 18-39, who went backpacking, i.e. a multi-destination trip for 3 weeks or more and stayed in hostels/backpacker’s shared room accommodation within the last 2 years 
  • Future = People aged 16-21, who are planning to go backpacking, i.e. a multi-destination trip for 3 weeks or more, and planning to stay in hostels/backpacker’s shared room accommodation, in the next 3 years  

Hostelworld Group booking data is from April 2019 reflecting the previous 12 months