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  • Hotels.com® launches major new annual global study on millennial travel behavior, revealing a new traveler profile more obsessed with self-improvement than selfies
  • “Generation Travel” by Hotels.com identifies “Intrepid Improvers,” with 75% of U.S. millennials who travel to enrich and improve
  • 7 in 10 are willing to pay up to 50% more for holidays offering self-improvement
  • Millennials would rather improve mental health (30%), learn a new skill (29%) or get fit (24%) than find love (12%) in 2020
  • Meditation, silence and sleep retreats, Onsen therapy and stress management — the remarkable retreats millennials will take in 2020
  • Not for the faint-hearted, these travelers will give up the internet (36%), social media (28%) and alcohol (27%) on their self-help quests
  • United StatesCanada, UK, France and Thailand are the top destinations for personal enhancement

A new global study “Generation Travel” from Hotels.com has uncovered the “Intrepid Improver,” a new type of millennial traveler shunning sun, sea and all-inclusives for vacations that promise to deliver better versions of themselves. These self-improvement-seeking travelers make up 75 percent of U.S. millennial explorers, who claim they now travel to enrich their mental or physical health, broaden their horizons or learn new skills.

Generation self-entitled? More like generation self-improvement. Intrepid Improvers are more interested in learning-based holidays and mental health and well-being improvement retreats (42%) than their boomer counterparts (24%). One-third (31%) state these types of getaways are now their main trip of the year, while one in five say they make a last-minute trip when they need it most.

This desire to improve is serious business. Nearly two-thirds (63%) would pay more for a holiday that they feel benefits them mentally, physically or emotionally and seven in 10 (71%) are willing to fork out up to 50 percent more. Furthermore, a whopping 36 percent are prepared to give up the internet, makeup or grooming (34%), social media (28%) and alcohol (27%) in order to reap the rewards of a self-improvement trip.

What’s driving the Intrepid Improver?

For almost a quarter of these travelers, the quest for self-betterment is about maintaining or improving their mental health (24%). For others, it’s about improving themselves (32%), staying healthy (27%) or gaining inspiration (23%). Just 7 percent are in it for social media bragging rights.

See ya, Cupid — more 20- to 30-somethings also say they would like to improve mental health (30%), learn a new skill (29%) or get fitter (24%) than find love (12%) in 2020. Additionally, four in 10 say that, when returning home from any holiday, they would be more likely to boast about a new understanding of another culture or an enriching experience (32%), than about a vacation romance (26%).

For those already partnered up, the study shows that when it comes to travel buddies, bae is best. Intrepid Improvers favor sharing the experience of bettering themselves abroad with a partner (37%), over family (20%), friends (20%) or going it alone (4%) — and more than one-third (36%) are considering a relationship retreat for their next trip.

The Intrepid Improver’s wish list

Millennials’ eagerness to experience new things is set to bring more unconventional forms of vacations and retreats into the mainstream. While dancing (33%), language courses (31%), photography pursuits (30%) and cooking trips (28%) all ranked highest overall, Intrepid Improvers are also exploring more unusual routes to enhancement.

Young travelers are exploring mindful sexuality retreats (28%) and taking their rehydration game to the next level by embracing the healing powers of water, sinking into Onsen therapy (16%), which involves soaking in hot springs or mineral baths to boost blood flow, circulation and metabolism.

Even more nature-inspired activities top the “yes, I’d try that” list, including forest bathing (25%) — an activity involving getting up close and personal with, you got it, the forest — and activities that tap into your inner self, like primal scream therapy (23%) and crying therapy (18%).

Others also list life-coaching retreats (36%), laughter camps (25%) or color therapy (22%) as options to finding their better selves.

A further 18% looking to nurture their mental health say they would be open to a monastery stay or shaman-led retreat, or even “champing” (church-camping, 14%), while one-quarter of fitness fans would like to attend a surfing camp, flex themselves at a fitness festival or take a mountaineering vacation.

Inspiring long-term changes

According to these travelers, the benefits far outweigh some of the unorthodox methods. More than one-third (36%) of Intrepid Improvers who have been on these types of holidays claim to have finally found inner peace, and learned to relax, while 35 percent state to have grown in confidence and self-esteem.

These alternative holidays are also inspiring positive change, with more than one-third (35%) claiming to have overhauled their daily routine after a self-improvement trip. More than eight in 10 (82%) made a career change or started their own business, 44 percent started a new hobby, 39 percent got a new look and more than half (57%) dumped a toxic partner or friend.

Josh Belkin, VP of Global Brand from Hotels.com brand commented, “The Hotels.com report into global millennial travelers has identified a new type of vacationer, one that is actively investing in becoming better versions of themselves — and we love their dedication! Having a standard hotel these days just isn’t going to cut it with these experience-hungry travelers, and Hotels.com can offer a whole range of unusual and innovative stays that will take their trip to the next level.”

The top styles of self-improvement holidays and destinations

TOP MENTAL HEALTH & WELLNESS GETAWAYS

Meditation retreat

27%

Silence retreat

24%

Expressive dance

24%

Mindfulness

23%

Yoga retreat

22%

MOST POPULAR PICKS FOR FITNESS BUFFS

Running

26%

Surfing camp

25%

Cycling

24%

Mountaineering

24%

Fitness festivals

23%

TOP PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT ESCAPES

Life-coaching session

37%

Interpersonal skills getaways

34%

Personal resilience course

34%

Confidence-building retreat

33%

Relationship retreat

26%

TOP 5 SKILLS TRAVELERS ARE EAGER TO LEARN ON HOLIDAY

Dancing

33%

Foreign language

31%

Photography

30%

Art (painting + drawing)

28%

Creative writing

27%

TOP 5 SELF-IMPROVEMENT VACATION DESTINATIONS

USA

24%

France

7%

Canada

6%

UK

6%

Thailand

5%

 

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