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Where U.S. Travelers Would Go if Time and Money Were No Object

By Michelle Baran

May 20, 2019

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The Blue Mountains National Park in Australia, a country that recently ranked as the most coveted destination

Photo by Taras Vyshnya/Shutterstock

The Blue Mountains National Park in Australia, a country that recently ranked as the most coveted destination

A recent survey queried American travelers about their dream destinations, what drives them to travel, and how much they’re willing to sacrifice to hit the road.

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When Americans were asked where they would go if all constraints were removed, the majority cited Australia, according to a recent survey commissioned by vacation rental company Vrbo. That was followed by Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan and Ireland (which tied for fifth).

Vrbo’s 2019 US Traveler Survey was conducted by market research company Ipsos in January 2019, during which 1,067 adult leisure travelers were questioned about their travel preferences.

While Australia topped the list as most lusted after travel destination overall, the results showed slight differences when broken down by demographic.

Millennials have all the heart eyes for Italy.

Millennials’ dream destinations

  1.     Italy
  2.     Japan/United Kingdom (tie)
  3.     United States
  4.     Spain/Peru (tie)
  5.     Greece

Gen Xers’ dream destinations

  1.     Australia
  2.     Italy
  3.     United States
  4.     United Kingdom
  5.     France/Japan (tie)

The United States ranked in the top three for dream travel destinations for every demographic.

Baby boomers’ dream destinations

  1.     Australia
  2.     United States
  3.     Italy
  4.     United Kingdom
  5.     New Zealand

In their survey, Ipsos and Vrbo defined millennials as travelers 18 to 34 years old, Generation X was defined as 35- to 54-year-olds, and baby boomers were defined as travelers ages 55 and up.

So, what are travelers willing to sacrifice to get to these places of their dreams (which, it’s worth noting, included staying right here in the good old US of A for many)? Among the millennial respondents, 37 percent said they would go into debt to travel, compared to 27 percent of Gen Xers, and 15 percent of baby boomers.

In order to be willing to go into debt to travel, one has to really want to go. The survey found that relaxation, going on a family vacation, and exploration were the top three motivators for travelers regardless of their age.  

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Once they’re on the road, travelers clearly want to stay connected. Internet and Wi-Fi access ranked as the most important amenity that American travelers (regardless of age) wanted in their accommodation. As long as they can stay plugged in, millennials are most likely to consider unique lodging options, such as boats or tree houses—71 percent of millennials are into such quirky abodes versus 62 percent of Gen Xers and 43 percent of boomers.

They’re also the age group most likely to take into account design and architecture when choosing a place to stay. When asked “other than safety, price, cleanliness, and location, what are the most important aspects of your lodging accommodation?”—25 percent of millennials noted design and architecture versus 18 percent of Gen Xers and 11 percent of baby boomers.

Conclusion: Millennials are looking to spend their next vacation in a hyper-wired, tricked-out houseboat in Italy.

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