Younger travellers are hitting the road in search of education, friendship, and even love, survey finds.
People born after 1995 would rather travel than attend university straight after leaving school and many of them view the experiences they will encounter on the road as an education in itself, according to research by youth travel experts Contiki.
In compiling its 'No Regrets List' of the 20 top travel experiences for 2017, the company polled more than 5600 people between the ages of 18 and 35 from Australia, Canada, the USA, the UK, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa and Asia. It found marked differences in the attitudes of those older than 21 (Generation Y) and those born after 1995 (Generation Z, also known as post-millenials).
Heading to Iceland to bathe in its famed Blue Lagoon was named the top experience for the coming year, followed by the perenially-popular sights of Egypt's pyramids and the Great Wall of China.
Perhaps surprisingly in an age of such consumerism, a whopping 97.5% of Gen Z respondents agreed that experiences were the most important thing in life: 78 per cent of them said social experiences were of utmost importance to them and almost a third said they travelled to meet new friends.
Only a quarter of Gen Y respondents, by contrast, had friendship in mind when setting off for distant shores and just 9 per cent of those born before 1995 indicated they travelled to find love, compared with 15 per cent of post-millenials.
Sunshine and good food can undoubtedly help a burgeoning courtship, which is perhaps why visiting Australia's Byron Bay and learning to make pizza in Italy were respectively named numbers four and five on the No Regrets List.
An urge to defer university study in favour of travelling also resonated strongly with younger respondents, with almost a third of them indicating an OE would be their immediate post-school preference.
This willingness to delay the responsibilities of adulthood and spend time immersing themselves in travel experiences perhaps reflects Gen Z's more relaxed approach to life.
Economic hardships mean many post-millenials will struggle to own the things their parents' generation aspired to, such as a house with a large section or a nice car, but Contiki's research shows more than half of them still have a positive outlook and believe they will be in a position to make the world a better place.
The members of Generation Z, who can't remember a time before social media, are spending their money instead on experiences they enjoy, such as gigs, festivals and travel.
Contiki's No Regrets List for 2017
1. Bathe in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
2. See the Great Pyramids of Giza
3. Walk the Great Wall of China
4. Chill out on the beach in Byron Bay
5. Learn how to make pizza in Italy
6. Roadtrip down Route 66 in the USA
7. Float on a Gondola through the canals of Venice, Italy
8. Kiss someone at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
9. Watch sea turtles lay their eggs in Costa Rica
10. Go on a picnic in the French countryside
11. Party in Las Vegas
12. Visit Yosemite National Park in the USA
13. Watch the sunrise over Uluru in the Australian outback
14. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
15. See the Mona Lisa at The Louvre in Paris
16. Try all the gelato in Rome
17. Explore the Grand Canyon by helicopter
18. Cuddle a Koala in Queensland, Australia
19. Zipline through the rainforest in Costa Rica
20. Ride a bike through Amsterdam.
Post-millenial (Generation Z) Traits
1. You believe in equality
2. You think experiences are the most important thing
3. You want to make a difference in the world
4. You actually read books
5. You believe in peace
6. You believe in multiculturalism
7. You believe in a healthy body and mind
8. You think you can achieve your dreams
9. You cannot understand why accepting the LGBT community was ever an issue.
10. You're not afraid to take risks