Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a two-week holiday, the merits of travel extend beyond keeping your social media feed interesting.
Not including the sheer excitement of visiting a new city or country, experts say traveling has a positive impact on our mental health. From helping to chip away at stress and improving our social skills to inspiring creativity and boosting happiness, setting travel goals really is good for the soul.
For some people, however, travel is a necessity. In fact, travel “bucket lists” may be evolving – with people opting for experiences and adventure over other major milestones (like buying a house or starting families). To learn more, we surveyed over 1,200 people about the places they most wanted to travel in their lifetime. Read on as we compare what motivates people to travel and the most desirable getaway spots for novices and experienced travelers alike.
Setting Travel Goals
Whether you’re setting personal or professional goals, creating a bucket list of what you want to accomplish can be important. Bucket lists are said to help people center on their values, keep goals at the forefront of their mind, and keep track of the experiences they’ve already accomplished.
Travel is no different, and a travel bucket list can help you keep tabs on the places you most want to see and work toward making those target locations a reality.
According to the more than 1,200 people surveyed, nearly 82 had at least one specific destination they most wanted to see in the world. While very few either didn’t enjoy traveling (or didn’t enjoy it but still wanted to see certain places), only 17 percent said they enjoyed traveling but had no definitive destinations in mind. For more than 3 in 4 people who enjoyed traveling, the destination was just as important as the journey.
The Desire to Get Away
Traveling isn’t a luxury so much as a necessity for some people to rest and recuperate before returning to the daily grind of life. But turning that time off into an adventure doesn’t always come cheap. One study found the average American spends as much as 10 percent of their total annual income on traveling, sometimes turning their holiday trips into a respite they can’t afford.
Given the cost of traveling, it’s worth taking a closer look at what motivates people to pack their bags. While a majority of people identified learning more about other places as their primary reason for traveling, that vision wasn’t universal.Nearly 1 in 10 Gen Xers were interested in learning more about themselves than about the places they were going.
Where in the World?
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you pick? A faraway beach to soak up the sun and sand? A city rich with history and museums? A destination inspired by food and culture?
According to people from the U.S., Italy, Japan, and France ranked as the most popular countries on their travel bucket lists. With the history and lore of Rome, the scenic views of Venice, and the rich culture of Florence, there’s almost no shortage of adventures to be had in this Southern European country. When asked to narrow down their travel goals, Americans were particularly interested in seeing Paris and London, in addition to the Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and the Grand Canyon. New York City also made the cut.
Across the pond, respondents from the U.K. had slightly different travel goals. Japan and North America ranked as the top bucket list destinations among U.K. travelers, including New York City (and the Statue of Liberty) and Tokyo. In 2017, nearly 63 million people traveled to New York, making it one of the busiest cities in the world.
Generations of Travel
Similar to where they live, the average age of travelers can have a strong impact on where in the world they’d most like to visit.
While baby boomers listed Italy, Ireland, and Japan among their most desired destinations, younger travelers were more interested in different locales. For Gen Zers, the youngest travelers surveyed, North America, Japan, and New Zealand earned the top slots on their bucket lists. For Gen Xers, Australia earned the highest-ranking spot among countries they wanted to visit, while millennials voted for Japan.
Still, no matter their age or which countries they were most interested in visiting, one city ranked at the top of every generation’s bucket list: New York City. Tied with Paris for Gen Zers and baby boomers, it was the Big Apple most people were interested in seeing in their lifetime. Whether they’re looking for the best pizza, excited to traverse the Brooklyn Bridge, or just want to see the sparkle of Times Square, New York outranked cities including Tokyo, Paris, and London on most bucket lists.
Evolution of Travel Experience
The more you travel, the more your perspective on the experience may change. It’s been suggested there are certain life lessons a person can only get by seeing more of the world, including how to connect with residents, feeling comfortable stepping outside of a comfort zone, and learning to go with the flow when thing don’t always work out the way you expected.
What being a seasoned traveler compared to a more novice adventurer may not change are the places in the world you most want to see. Whether they identified as beginners or veteran travelers, people of all experiences identified the same country as being at the top of their bucket lists: Japan. Travelers may be excited to explore the ancient temples, visit the famous owl cafes, or hike around majestic Mount Fuji, and while landmarks like Paris’ Eiffel Tower and Rome’s Colosseum earned similar distinctions, it was the Land of the Rising Sun that beginners, intermediate travelers, and seasoned vets alike wanted to see the most.
More to See and Do
Once you’ve visited the top one or two countries on your travel bucket list, you might start to wonder, “Where do I go from here?” It may be reasonable to add a few more entries to the list.
On average, men and women from the U.K. visited more than nine countries overseas and nearly 11 countries in total. By comparison, those from the U.S. traveled to nearly four countries overseas and five countries in total.
In some cases, you might not have to wait until you’re older to reach intermediate- or expert-level travel. The average Gen Zer saw nearly seven countries in total, compared to eight for millennials and nine for Gen Xers. Baby boomers had the most travel experience, averaging nearly nine countries overseas and more than 10 altogether.
Raising the Travel Bar
It may not matter how many countries you initially put on your bucket list. Once you cross a few off the top, you may find yourself adding more and more to the bottom. And don’t think you’ll ever feel content to stop traveling, either. In most cases, we found the average bucket list was never really done.
Just 13 percent of U.S. respondents and 4 percent of people from the U.K. said their travel bucket lists were completed. Additionally, completed bucket lists were more common among seasoned travelers (19 percent) than beginners (5 percent) or intermediate travelers (7 percent).
Eleven percent of millennials said their travel bucket lists had been accomplished, compared to just 5 percent of Gen Xers and 4 percent of baby boomers. Considered by some to be the “most important” generation for the travel industry, millennials are often more likely to put off other obligations like paying down their student loans and spending time with family in favor of traveling. And because millennials see an opportunity to learn about themselves through traveling, they often prefer trips that include more adventure and customization than older generations as well.
When it comes to what’s trendy in travel, certain destinations may come and go as the “it” place to spend an Instagrammable vacation. When seeing the world’s most iconic landmarks though, some destinations never seem to lose their luster. According to one travel agency, bookings between the U.S. and the Middle East rose by 70 percent between 2016 and 2017, and as the culture and conversation around traveling to locations like United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, and Israel continue to evolve, that travel rate is expected to rise even further.
More than 1 in 10 travelers (12 percent) indicated that a country or city from the Middle East was on their bucket list. The most desirable countries included Egypt and the UAE, with cities like Cairo and Dubai topping the destinations that travelers most wanted to see. It’s no wonder the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Burj Khalifa were on their minds. At 2,717 feet from the base to the tip of the spire, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai has been the tallest building in the world since its official opening in 2010.
People now travel more than ever before. Not only are they spending more on their holiday excursions, but also most are committing more time to vacations than in the past. A majority of people also keep travel bucket lists. Countries like Italy, Japan, and France were among the most common travel destinations, including cities like Paris and New York City.
If seeing the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the ancient Al-Khazneh in Petra, or the Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi are on your bucket list, you may want to consider adding the Middle East to your travel itinerary. And if your travels take you to the United Arab Emirates, Bayut is your go-to resource for properties for sale and rent in Dubai and beyond. Whether you’re looking for accommodations in Abu Dhabi, Al Raha Beach, or the famous Dubai, Bayut will help you find the widest selection of available apartments and area guides to make your transition as seamless as possible. Visit us at Bayut.com to learn more.
We collected responses from 492 people from the United States using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and 534 people from the United Kingdom using Clickworker. 52% of our participants were female, and 48% were male. Participants ranged in age from 16 to 77 with a mean of 35 and a standard deviation of 11.8. We excluded any respondents who did not have specific locations they wanted to travel to in their lifetime. No statistical testing was performed, so the claims listed above are based on means alone.
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