Age a Factor in Vacation Preferences

A survey suggests where Americans go, how they pay and what they do while on vacation may be a factor of their age.

As summer vacation season approaches, a new survey from Discover found that for the 58% of those who intend to take a summer trip, where they go, how they pay and what they do while on vacation may be a factor of their age.


The national survey of 1,100 U.S. adults ages 18 and older found that travel preferences vary from generation to generation. Members of Generation Z, ages 18 to 21, are looking for an adrenaline rush on their next vacation, with 30% saying adventure is their top travel priority, compared to 8% of Millennials, ages 22 to 37; 10% of Generation X, ages 38 to 53; 7% of Baby Boomers, ages 54 to 72; and 9% of the Silent Generation, ages 73 and older.


For Millennials who are planning a summer vacation, spending time with friends and family is their highest priority, at 28%, while relaxation is the main driver for Generation X, at 34%. Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation say spending time with friends and family—36% and 46%, respectively—matters most. Exploring a new city or destination tops the list for 24% of all respondents.


Most of those planning a summer vacation want to feel the sand between their toes, as 26% of all respondents said the beach is their preferred destination. However, many older respondents would trade their beach chairs for the open road or sea, as a higher percentage of Baby Boomers, 27%, picked a road trip as their preferred vacation, and a cruise was the most popular choice among the Silent Generation, at 29%.


Those planning a summer trip say credit cards are the preferred way to pay while on vacation, at 46%, according to the survey, followed by 25% who favor paying with debit cards, 24% with cash and 3% with checks or traveler’s checks. However, payment preferences vary by generation. Cash is the preferred payment method while on vacation for Generation Z at 35%. On the other end of the age spectrum, 60% of Baby Boomers and 68% of the Silent Generation favor paying with credit cards.
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