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New StudentUniverse Survey Finds That 1 in 5 Gen Z Travelers Are Allocating More Than 40% of Their Disposable Income to Travel

New StudentUniverse Survey Finds That 1 in 5 Gen Z Travelers Are Allocating More Than 40% of Their Disposable Income to Travel

StudentUniverse’s latest survey delves into the spending habits of Gen Z travelers in the U.S. 


Waltham, Mass. (April 2, 2024) – Intent to travel amongst Gen travelers remains strong as student and youth travelers continue to engage in trips for vacation, vocation and education. According to a new survey on the vacation spending habits of Gen Z travelers from StudentUniverse, a Flight Centre Travel Group company and the world’s largest student and youth travel marketplace, found that 78% of Gen Z travelers intend to take a vacation within the next 12 months. 


According to StudentUniverse’s 2024 State of Student Travel Report a third of the student and youth market prefers to spend money on travel and experiences as opposed to things. The latest survey reinforces these findings by diving deeper into spending habits. According to the survey 18.3% of Gen Z travelers in the U.S. indicated they allocated 40% or more of their disposable income towards vacations and an additional 47.8% indicating they allocate 20-40% of their disposable income towards vacationing. 


“Despite ongoing economic concerns, student and youth travelers continue to prioritize traveling,” said Will Jones, brand manager at StudentUniverse. “They put great emphasis on the value of traveling which can foster cultural exchange and expand their worldview. As we continue to see strong intent to travel from Gen Z we believe it is valuable to better understand the spending habits of this demographic which accounts for roughly 20% of the U.S. population and boasts spending power in excess of $350 billion.” 


What They’re Budgeting per Trip 


Roughly 1 in 10 Gen Z travelers are allocating over $2,000 per vacation as we continue to see their spending power grow. Of course, as a significant portion of Gen Z consists of students it was not surprising to see that most are budgeting less for vacations with 23.4% indicating they allocate $500 or less per vacation and 33.6% indicating they allocate anywhere from $500 to $1,000. The remaining 32% are allocating between $1,000 and $2,000 per vacation. As we continue to see Gen Z’s spending power grow, we will likely see these numbers increase as they continue to prioritize travel experiences.


They’re Using Different Methods to Earn and Save 


According to the survey, unsurprisingly, the most common method amongst Gen Z travelers looking to save up for a vacation is through work, with 94.4% indicating they will work and save to afford a vacation. With a significant number of Gen Z travelers still in school it comes as little surprise that 21.7% indicated they will ask relatives to assist them with vacation funds. The next most common method for earning money for a vacation is selling possessions, with 21.3% indicating they do so. This coincides with the rise in popularity of the resale market and consignment, and it’s interesting to see that Gen Z not only prioritizes travel over things, but that they’re even selling their things to pay for those vacations. The survey found that 8.4% indicated they’ve turned to clinical trials to earn money for vacations while another 6% indicated they’ve taken out a loan to pay for vacation. Although a small percentage (2%) indicated they’ve raised money for a vacation through crowdfunding there is some speculation that this may become more commonplace. 


How That Spending Breaks Down


It appears that for Gen Z, the destination is just as important as how they get there with most ranking transportation as their top spending priority. While this can partially be attributed to higher airfare prices, it also aligns with the idea that Gen Z travelers are willing to spend on higher transportation costs in order to get to their desired destinations. Culinary travel has been a rising trend and appears to be popular amongst Gen Z travelers as they ranked spending on food and restaurants as their second highest priority. Spending on experiences and attractions was ranked as the third highest priority, followed by shopping and spending on souvenirs as the fourth priority. Gen Z has largely been driving the popularity of sober tourism and as such spending on alcoholic beverages and partying ranked amongst the lowest alongside spending on wellness and spa experiences. 


Where Their Loyalties Lie 


While a solid 46.8% indicating they are taking advantage of loyalty programs and points/miles to pay for trips it appears that on average over half of Gen Z travelers are not taking advantage of these benefits. This makes them a prime audience for loyalty programs so long as providers can make it clear how travelers can take advantage of the perks. While certain aspects of a loyalty program, such as qualifying spend, may not yet be as easily accessible for Gen Z travelers, they can still be informed of the value of earning miles, for example, which never expire for a number of airlines and can be used to offset the cost of an airline ticket. 


Going Green on Travel Spending


As they’re prioritizing transportation as their top spend it appears some of those funds are being used to offset the impact of their trip with 23% of student and youth travelers indicating they are willing to pay an optional carbon offset fee when booking air travel. This focus on sustainability is further reinforced by the fact that 50% of respondents indicated they prioritize booking through platforms with strong green credentials. Gen Z have used their buying power to indicate they prefer sustainable options and this is a trend we’re continuing to see gain traction across the travel industry. 


About StudentUniverse


Launched in 2000, StudentUniverse is a Boston-based tech company that operates the world’s largest student and youth travel marketplace. Through negotiations with a network of global partners, StudentUniverse offers exclusive pricing and terms for its members. With operations in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and the Philippines, StudentUniverse empowers students and youth to travel more. Acquired in 2015, StudentUniverse is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Flight Centre Travel Group, one of the world’s largest travel companies. For more updates, follow our corporate blog and LinkedIn.