Will a combination of wanderlust and greater working flexibility help Millennial parents raise the most well-travelled generation of kids the world has seen?
Among Millennials, those with children travel more each year than those who are single or in couples.
Recent data shows that Millennial parents holiday more often and further from home than any previous generation of parents. But why? At a stage of life when you’d think the hassle and expense of travelling could outweigh the fun, it seems that young parents’ wanderlust has never been stronger. Is it because of our refusal to curb the sense of freedom we grew up with, now we’re mums and dads? Or could it be something deeper: a hunger to expose our children to as many experiences, cultures, climates, cuisines, customs and languages as we can in the hope of raising well-rounded and open-minded individuals fit for today’s uncertain world?
Whatever is driving us, there’s no doubt we’re raising the most well-travelled generation of kids the world has ever seen. Holiday spending among US Millennial families is expected to have risen by 19% by the end of 2018, according to MMGY. Elsewhere, it is reported that among Millennials, those with children travel more than those that are single or in couples each year, and for most of these families at least one of their trips was international (source: TMS).
And when we’re not travelling, we’re thinking about our next trip – we follow the social feeds of nomadic families with huge followings, read and write destination reviews online, and use travel planning apps to plan our future trips. Home-schooling, fuelled by more reliable internet access in all corners of the world, is on the rise in several countries as some parents step away from the rigidity of formal education systems. Flexible working patterns are also essential for this generation – sometimes by choice, often an economic necessity.
And recent changes to Shared Parental Leave legislation, and its increasing uptake, are unlocking opportunities for young parents to take extended trips as a family unit. During my recent second pregnancy, my husband spent the pregnancy renovating a campervan that will carry us off into the sunset for an extended family adventure. The reality will probably be less romantic than the vision, but like any Millennial parents worth their salt, we’ll be live-sharing the ups and downs for our friends back home.
Why stay in a hotel room when you can show your kids a more authentic side to the city? Isn’t that cultural realness what we’re all seeking anyway?
How can brands help parents like me? Two ways: practically, and by giving us the confidence to get out there and scratch our itch to explore. With the first in mind, Bugaboo and BabyZen lead the pack with well-designed travel systems – their kit folds down with one hand and some are designed to fit into aircraft overhead lockers. JetKids, meanwhile, makes wheeled carry-on bags for kids that unfold to transform an economy plane seat into a bed. And KeepEmQuiet has become a phenomenon: a start-up that sends mini-backpacks to parents for family trips, packed with non-screen-based distractions that parents can personally choose based on their children’s age, gender and length of journey.
In terms of inspiring young families to travel with confidence, some of the major tour operators are adding adventure activities and semi-guided tour itineraries specially designed for young families interested in going beyond the all-inclusive kids’ club model. Camping has never been more popular as parents take their children back to nature – especially the kind where everything is laid on for families, such as Featherdown Farm’s 65 European locations. And, of course, the flexibility of Airbnb comes into its own when your family needs multiple beds, and ideally a kitchen and some outdoor space. It takes the risk out of going off the beaten track. After all, why stay in a hotel room when you can show your kids a more authentic side to the city? Isn’t that cultural realness what we’re all seeking from our travels anyway?
Beth Bentley is vice-president of strategy at Virtue Worldwide, the creative marketing agency of Vice Media. A Millennial mother of two living in East London, her Instagram blog about modern baby weaning is being turned into a book by Penguin Random House. Young Gums: Baby Food With Attitude is now available on Amazon.