A large number of Americans would rather take two extra weeks of vacation over two extra weeks of pay and Ashlee Tuck is one of them. It makes sense when you think about how much she travels. For example, this year alone, the 33-year-old Washington DC resident has already been to Guatemala, Kenya, South Africa and Canada.
It’s all about the experience, says the avid traveler who started a blog that has since morphed into an enterprise (willdrinkfortravel.com) and a Twitter account to keep her family informed of her adventures. Tuck spends weeks in a location, if she can, and she swears that the time and effort are worth it. Her travel experiences jibe with findings of the most recent iteration of the Ipsos Affluent Travel study, which found that the wealthiest Americans also travel the most, and would prefer more vacation over more pay. In fact, when asked, Tuck responded enthusiastically.
“Oh I’m definitely taking the vacation,” she said. “Definitely. Because it’s an experience. Money comes and goes you know? I would rather have my experiences than have more money that I’ll just blow on Starbucks and happy hours and dinner.”
Experiences are the new mark of luxury, it seems. Some 58% of affluents prefer vacations that are relaxing rather than exciting, according to the study, and 80% plan to travel in the next 12 months. Plus, even as global crises and local politics spark fear of wars and climate change, affluent Americans still for the most part want to travel because it provides a valuable experience. In terms of generations, depending upon the age and life circumstances (and numbers of children) broad swaths of Americans tend to travel differently, says Tony Incalcatera, who runs the Affluent Survey for Ipsos. Not all Millennials live the same way, he says, adding that younger Gen Xers and older Millennials mirror each other in habits and purchases while older Gen Xers “look more like young Baby Boomers.”
“The younger Millennials are single and they don’t have kids,” he says. “The older Millennials are starting to have families and therefore their priorities are changing… It’s a different lifestyle that often changes the behavior.”
Granted, the desires change depending upon whether those surveyed are Baby Boomers , Gen Xers or Millennials, but the overall people want to create memories.
“Experiential travel, that’s really what it’s about,” adds Incalcatera. “When people have a certain level of means, it makes it easier for them to trade off. It’s less about obtaining more material goods and more about having experiences they can remember later in life.”
Domestic Deal Seekers
The Ipsos Affluent Survey also found that there is a direct link between desire to travel and income, which makes sense. There are also changes in where people travel based upon where they live. For example, in Minnesota, people disproportionally travel to Somalia due to the large Somalian population living in the Twin Cities.
And, just because a person lives in a household with more than $100,000 in income doesn’t mean they won’t search for budget travel.
“They’re called the domestic deal seekers and they’re looking to spend the least amount of money,” Incalcatera says.
Winifred Plume, 43, of Los Angeles, is such a deal seeker, though she is originally from London, so she is always on the hunt for flights back home – or to her favorite jaunt during the holidays, Hawaii.
“I have a separate email account for searching for flights and I do have my favorite airlines, but mostly I try to travel off of points or some combination of deals,” says the stay at home mother of three. “My husband travels for work, so we usually get some great deals between the points and his relationships.
The family could afford to pay full fare but often does not.
Adds Plume: “If you can save, you should.”
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