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Why some millennials think travel is more important than sex

According to a new study by Contiki, a travel booking platform that caters to millennials, travelers between ages 18 and 35 value vacations over pretty much everything else. The study, which surveyed 1,500 people, reported that 80 percent of millennials say they would give up Netflix, 73 percent say they would give up alcohol, and 57 percent say they would even give up sex for travel.

Of course, it is in Contiki’s best interest to produce a study that portrays millennials’ desire to vacation as strong, but there is no doubt a deep correlation between millennials and valuing travel. According to Expedia Media Solutions, millennials travel the most of any other generation, jet-setting 35 days out of the year, followed by Gen Z at 29 days and baby boomers at 27 days. And according to a 2018 AARP study, millennials will spend more on travel than both Gen X and baby boomers.

The compulsion to spend money and time on trips has a lot to do with the role travel plays in the average millennial’s life. Travel is not just a way to relax but a catalyst to becoming a better person — a phenomenon known as “transformative travel.”

According to a poll by Skift, 54 percent of respondents said transformation was an important aspect of vacationing. In Skift’s 2018 report “The Rise of Transformative Travel,” Beth McGroarty, director of research and public relations at the Global Wellness Institute, noted that travel is now seen as a “shortcut” to a different you.

The global travel economy is shifting from a focus on “esteem” to “self-actualization,” and travelers are buying services that they perceive as being able to induce quick and complete change.

Using travel to become better is appealing not only because it seems like a truncated route to wellness, but also because it makes us more attractive to others. Just a quick scroll through a dating app solidifies how an interest in travel is used communicate you are an appealing mate. A person who takes lots of trips seems adventurous, rich, and interested in their own self-development, and someone who doesn’t prioritize travel may be viewed as small-minded and uninterested in external and internal exploration.

The average millennial life is also plagued with financial obligation, which leaves less room for transformative experiences during the day-to-day. Founder of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching Lisa Marie Bobby says most people don’t actually think of their everyday lives as a true reflection of themselves. “People feel locked into a job and a routine that they just show up and do and it isn’t really meaningful,” she says. “When they are able to be their real selves is when they’re outside of that day-to-day system.”

Whether it’s historical brewery tours or adventure trekking, many millennials use travel to convey that they’re interested in personal growth. It’s not indulging in Netflix or alcohol or sex that leads to transformation, the thinking goes: it’s road tripping up the California coast or soaking in an Icelandic hot spring.