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Have parents, will travel: The funding mix for young travellers

Apr 25, 2019

At what age should you pay for your own vacation? A Bankrate survey of Americans suggests that the magic number is 20 – three years earlier than you should be expected to pay for your own health insurance and student loans.

Young travellers tend to have fairly low incomes, but their travel expenditure can outweigh that of conventional tourists. Over half of the respondents to WYSE Travel Confederation’s New Horizons IV Survey in 2017 reported an annual income of less than EUR 5,000. Yet, despite low annual incomes of youth, the average expenditure on the last international trip was nearly EUR 2,900.

Relatively few young travellers are dependent on just their own income to fund travel and data from New Horizons in 2012 and 2017 suggest that the travel funding mix of young travellers has changed slightly. In 2017, young travellers were drawing more from savings and support from parents, and scholarships or grants than they were in 2012. Less than 15% of young travellers said that their travel was fully funded from their own earnings in 2017.

Travel funding sources for youth

©WYSE Travel Confederation, New Horizons IV, 2017

Logically, the youngest travellers lean the heaviest on their parents for funding, with those under age 20 getting an average of 34% of their travel budget from parents. For a lucky 7% of young travellers, parents and other supporters covered all travel costs.

Travel funding sources by age

©WYSE Travel Confederation, New Horizons IV, 2017

The value of the youth travel market is much larger than the annual incomes of young people would suggest. While young travellers are often supported by their family, this also means that product purchases must appeal to parents as well as their children. An alternative for some youth is to earn enough money while travelling to cover room and board costs, such as with a working holiday experience. 

Read more about youth travel in New Horizons IV: A global study of the youth and student traveller.