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The Travel Motivations of Americans in 2019

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 2/7/2019 Mia Taylor
Happy tourists taking a selfie: PHOTO: Happy tourists taking a selfie. (photo via gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Imags Plus) © Getty Images PHOTO: Happy tourists taking a selfie. (photo via gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Imags Plus)

Perception and appearance are key motivators for Americans when it comes to planning and booking travel experiences.

A new study from travel start-up Culture Trip found that perception, in particular, is a crucial part of travel, with nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of Americans making travel decisions based on whether the experiences will result in good stories to tell. And surprise, surprise, (not) 40 percent of Americans confess they want people to be impressed by their holidays.

Millennial travel, meanwhile, is driven by a desire to be perceived as worldly, according to the study. Three in four millennials reported feeling that it’s important to be seen as someone with a wide experience of the world.

And in what should come as a surprise to nobody by this point, social media continues to play a significant role in travel decisions. Half of those under 45 want their experiences to look good on such platforms as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, with men about 37 percent more likely to care about this than women.

Men are also far more likely to see themselves as travel trendsetters—44 percent of men globally make this claim compared to just 36 percent of women. Travel FOMO in men is higher too—43 percent of men want to go to the same places their friends have been compared to 34 percent of women.

This trend is particularly evident among Gen Z travelers, with 59 percent of those under 25 wanting to visit the same locations as their friends so they won’t feel left behind or out of touch.

Americans also want their fair share of adventure, with 72 percent saying it’s worth taking a few risks to have that unforgettable experience, and nearly half, 56 percent, want to be the first to go to new places and try new things.

This trend is even more pronounced when it comes to younger travelers with 69 percent of 18 to 34-year-old respondents stating they want to be the first to go to new places and try new things.

The research also reinforced another trend that's dominating travel decisions of late, the penchant for experiencing destinations like a local. According to the study, 82 percent of Americans said the only way to truly understand a place is to experience it like a local.

The findings are based on in-depth interviews with 150 consumers and a survey of 10,500 respondents.

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