Bacchanalia grabs all of the headlines about spring break for colleges giving a distorted view of student travel, especially as it has evolved over the past decade.
According to analysis of various studies published recently in a white paper by Skift and StudentUniverse, student travel now represents “fully one-fifth of all International arrivals” in the travel sector and they go “far beyond the backpack-and-party crowd.”
In fact, history and culture rank as more important than parties for both males and females. Of relief to parents of young daughters, several other experiences including local food rank higher than parties and nightlife.
Significantly, by more than three to one, females would have still traveled even without those social gatherings.
I found it interesting that 60% of this travel is female, and families pick up just over a third of the cost. The students come from more than 4,100 public and private colleges.
Nothing replaces experience in the workforce during college but it is interesting that 97% of these student travelers felt the trip improved their self-confidence, and 99% believed the travel provided insights to personal strengths and weaknesses.
I had just turned 19 when I took my first cross country plane trip from my native Rockies in 1967. I wasn’t ready yet, physically or emotionally, to make the most of my trip to Western Europe.
My daughter studied there for several months in high school and returned during her college years.
Students today are even more prepared for these experiences than either me or even my daughter were.
Of course, mobile devices are a game-changer. My daughter, who is now the single mother of two grandsons and a chief privacy and ethics officer, often marvels with me at what it would have been like to have that access while she was growing up.
By 2020, the market value of this type of travel will reach $320 billion with U.S. destinations being equal beneficiaries of those inbound to this country.
Important to note is that student travelers are more than three times as likely to use various Internet devices for in-destination information as they are local hosts.
Today’s student travelers are also more resilient when it comes to “terrorism, political and social unrest, disease and natural disasters” requiring helicopter parents to lighten up.