Why the travel industry shouldn't underestimate the value of college students

Broadening your horizons is an important part of the college experience, and for many students this includes taking vacations without their parents for the first time. The value of the student travel market shouldn’t be underestimated: you might be surprised at how often they take vacations and much they spend per trip. Here’s what we discovered in our latest research into the consumer habits of US students.

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How often do students take vacations?

  • 73% of students take a vacation at least once a year

  • 32% take 2 or more vacations per year

  • 6% take 5 or more vacations per year

Students typically take vacations within the US. If they do travel abroad it’s most likely to be during the summer, when they have a longer break from classes. Popular types of vacation include going to the beach (e.g. Spring break in Mexico or Florida) or skiing (e.g. Aspen at Christmas). Our survey revealed that 63% usually travel to their destination by car, and a summer road trip has become something of a student rite of passage. Most students have access to a car, except those who live in major cities with good public transit.

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When going on vacation with friends, 77% of students usually book as a group, which means one person pays then everyone pays them. Therefore, they look for discounts on group bookings. When choosing where to stay, a clean room and safe location are the main factors influencing their decision. They like the idea of staying in an apartment, such as Airbnb, but perceive hotels as a safer and more trustworthy option. They research accommodation by looking at reviews, and check travel aggregators like Expedia and Booking.com for special offers. They try to book several months in advance, but this doesn’t always match up with their love of spontaneous adventures.

How much do students spend on travel and accommodation per vacation?

  • 23% spend over $1000

  • 39% spend over $600

  • 58% spend over $400

Students are usually associated with budget travel options, but a significant number are willing to spend over $1000, and 10% of that group are taking five or more vacations per year. These affluent young consumers are an ideal target audience for brands in the travel sector.

Read more about college students’ views on travel, shopping, media and much more in our Student Shopping Report, available here.