Global travel shifts show children today are three times more well-travelled than their grandparents

  • The average child now embarks on their first holiday by the age of five, with over 25% of children taking their first international holiday by the age of two
  • Millennials embark on their first international holiday by the average age of nine, having experienced an average of four international holidays by the age of 12
  • Long haul travel has seen a 55% rise among European travellers in the last 10 years


People are travelling internationally at a younger age than ever before, according to research by leading online travel agency eDreams. The online travel agent polled 13,000 people from eight countries within Europe and the USA as part of its global ‘Travel Through The Generations’ study.


Generational shifts

The pace at which we travel is increasing at lightning speed throughout the generations, with children today now three times more likely to have travelled internationally than Baby Boomers would have done by the age of five.

Unsurprisingly, Millennials proved to be much more well-travelled than Baby Boomers – generally experiencing their first trip abroad by the average age of nine, and taking approximately four international holidays by the age of 12. In addition, one in five Millennials (20%) went on their first international holiday by the age of two.

The average Millennial visits six different countries by the age of 18 – exactly double the amount the average Baby Boomer had been to by this age. Swedish Millennials visit 10 different countries on average by the time they turn 18 – the most of all nations polled. At the opposite end of the scale are their American counterparts, who usually visit just three countries on average by the same age.

When it comes to Baby Boomers, Swedes and Brits are the most well-travelled of their generation, having visited 15 countries and 14 respectively by the age of 50. Almost half (42%) of global Baby Boomers had not yet travelled internationally by age 18 and Americans in particular stayed much closer to home for a longer period, with almost a third (31%) of Baby Boomers not leaving the USA until at least age 50.


Global comparisons

The study also asked respondents to answer questions about their children’s travel habits. The average child today embarks on their first international holiday by the age of five and one in four (25%) has even taken their first international trip by the age of two, indicating that families are now travelling with their children from a much younger age.

In Sweden almost half (46%) of children today go on their first international holiday by the age of two, and Portuguese children are now the most likely to have travelled internationally by the age of five.

The average global age at which adult respondents took their first international holiday was 13 – however this was often found to be much younger in European countries such as Germany (aged 9) France (aged 11) and Sweden (aged 12). In contrast, American adults only ventured beyond the USA for the first time at an average age of 17.


Destinations – Then and Now

Long-haul travel has become increasingly more popular for Europeans over the past decade, with holidaymakers travelling to far-flung destinations up to 55% more frequently than they did as children.

North Africa, the Caribbean Islands, South East Asia and Canada are among some of the most popular destinations for Europeans, though the USA has consistently remained the most popular choice for European travellers from childhood right the way through to adult life.

Short haul breaks are also steadily on the rise with 20% more Europeans now opting to holiday within their own continent. Europe’s top five holiday destinations (Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal) have remained consistently popular throughout the generations, and are still some of the most popular for holidays today. Spain has continually remained top of the list from childhood through to adult holidays.

A desire for experience-based holidays has increased too, with 20% of holidaymakers believing they are now more adventurous with the way they travel. One in five people (20%) would now consider a foodie-inspired holiday while one in four (25%) would opt for a culturally informative trip. City breaks are also on the increase with over a quarter of people (29%) more likely to consider this type of holiday now than they would have done 10 years ago.

When it comes to domestic travel, two thirds of people asked (67%) said they still holiday at home frequently – namely those within Portugal (83%) and Spain (82%).  However, this overall trend has decreased by 4% on average amongst European travellers, nodding towards the growth in popularity of other destinations.

Domestic tourism is also up by 7% within the USA, where 94% of people frequently enjoy holidays within their own country rather than venturing further afield.


Travel Habits

Overall, more than half of people surveyed (51%) travel more today than they did 10 years ago. Almost half of these respondents (48%) believe travel is more accessible now than it was previously, with 43% stating that their increased disposable income has also played a significant role in their holiday habits.

Holidaymakers were found to spend 16% of their annual earnings on holidays, a 5% growth in travel spend over the past decade. Italians are the nation who splurge the most – spending a whopping 20% of their annual salary on trips away, whilst Swedes allocate 12% of their pay towards holidays.

Bookings made via an Online Travel Agent (OTA) have significantly increased too, with people now 75% more likely to book a holiday this way than they would have done 10 years ago. This is now the preferred booking method for 70% of people surveyed, with a quarter (25%) stating that the increased ability to book holidays online has directly impacted the frequency of their travel plans.

Online travel bookings have now significantly overtaken those made through a high street travel agent, which have decreased from 41% to just 19% over the last 10 years.

The findings are part of a global study which saw eDreams poll 13,000 people from eight countries. The aim of the study was to determine how travel habits have shifted across generations and how this differs across each market.

To view the full report, please visit our Trends & Analysis page.


Notes to editor                      

Research conducted by One Poll. 13,000 people were polled in total, with 2,000 from each the UK, US, France Germany and Spain, and 1,000 each from Portugal, Italy and Sweden.


Where children are referenced, answers were given on their behalf by respondents who currently have children aged 0-19

Where Baby Boomers are referenced, this refers to the age group 50+

Where Millennials are referenced, this refers to the age group 18-29

When comparing children today and people aged 50+, the terms grandparents has been used 


About eDreams:

eDreams is one of the world’s leading online travel agencies, with a presence in 33 countries and the widest product mix available on the market, offering consumers over 60,000 flight-routes from more than 450 airlines and over 1,100,000 hotels in 40,000 destinations. The company develops and uses cutting edge tools to search millions of flight and hotel combinations, ensuring customers get the best price and greatest convenience.

About eDreams ODIGEO:

eDreams ODIGEO is one of the world’s largest online travel companies and one of the largest European e-commerce businesses. Under its four leading online travel agency brands – eDreams, GO Voyages, Opodo, Travellink, and the metasearch engine Liligo – it offers the best deals in regular flights, low-cost airlines, hotels, cruises, car rental, dynamic packages, holiday packages and travel insurance to make travel easier, more accessible, and better value for the more than 18 million customers it serves across 44 markets. eDreams ODIGEO is listed in the Spanish Stock Market.