Student Universe: The State of Student and Youth Travel in 2023

A 17-page online report whose focus is on the attitudes and travel behaviours of so-called ‘Gen-Z’ produced by the online travel agency StudentUniverse. 

When surveying students in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia it was found that Italy featured as one of the top three countries that they most wished to visit in the next twelve months. 

It is estimated that around one-in-four international arrivals can be categorised as a youth or student traveller with an annual spend of $40bn, with the report making the, perhaps surprising, claim that the average amount spent per international trip by a student is $3,000, driven by a lengthy trip duration, which on average is claimed to be 52 days.  Almost one-in-six of those surveyed said that they were likely to travel overseas in the next year. 

It is estimated that there are about six million students studying in a country that is not their usual place of residence with it reported that 600,000 foreign students arrive to study in the UK each year while the EU plays host to 1.5 million foreign students. 

India is one of the biggest exporters of students, with one million said to be currently studying outside of the country. 

The research finds that while some youth travel is still driven by a desire to party, this is now more of a niche segment to the overall market, with an increased focus on cultural experiences and activities.  Some 70% said sightseeing and city activities was what appealed to them when considering foreign travel followed by 68% saying the opportunity to experience different cultures. 

A majority of students say they will continue to travel despite the cost of living crisis, but that they will do their best to seek out the best value deals and have a strong expectation that they will receive financial support from their family to help them fulfil their wanderlust. 

Interestingly the poll found that only 15% of student travellers cited their impact on the environment as being something that concerned them when travelling, while in response to a separate question half said that climate change had not impacted their appetite to travel, while two-in-five say they would have no intention of paying an additional fee to offset their carbon emissions when travelling. 

When asked the extent to which the laws, politics and values of a potential destination play a role when deciding where to go more than four-in-five said that these had at least some influence on their choices. 

Three-quarters of those surveyed said they follow at least one travel ‘influencer’ on social media but only 17% and 12% respectively say they use either Facebook or Twitter for travel inspiration, compared with 72% citing Instagram, 64% TikTok and 56% YouTube.        

The report concludes with seven predictions for this travel segment over the next decade including the growing role that AI will play, Africa emerging as a key outbound source market and that youth leisure travel will become more purpose driven.    

Link Student Universe State of Student and Youth Travel 2023