The rise of the “micro-cation”
The majority (57 percent) of Americans did not take a leisure trip longer than four nights in the last year, with millennials leading this “micro-cation” trend, according to the 2019 Vacation Confidence Index released by Allianz Global Assistance.
For the uninitiated, a “micro-cation” is defined as a leisure trip that is fewer than five nights. Nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of millennials took at least one micro-cation in the last year, while 69 percent of Gen X’ers and 60 percent of baby boomers did the same.
Not only are Americans taking shorter trips, but for many, these micro-cations are replacing the traditional week-long vacation. Almost two in ten Americans (18 percent) said their longest trip in the last year was three to four nights, while one in 10 (11 percent) took no trips longer than just one to two nights.
Micro-cations may allow Americans to travel more frequently, with 25 percent of the general population and one in three (29 percent) of millennials saying they took at least three micro-cations in the last year.
More seasoned generations still prefer longer trips, with 40 percent of baby boomers surveyed avoiding trips fewer than five nights in the last year, compared to 34 percent of the general population.
Millennials are less likely than their older counterparts to take longer trips: only 17 percent of millennials took a trip longer than seven days in the last year, compared to 21 percent of Gen X’ers and 22 percent of baby boomers.
On the flipside, 12 percent of millennials and 15 percent of Gen X’ers said their longest trip was just one to two nights, compared to seven percent of baby boomers.
While the short vacations trend may be on the rise, this year’s survey also found that over one-quarter (28 percent) of all Americans have not taken a leisure trip of any length in the past year. Baby boomers are especially guilty, with 35 percent saying they did not take a leisure trip in the last year.
A quarter of their younger counterparts (26 percent of millennials and 24 percent of Gen X) said the same.
When asked why they prefer to take micro-cations, 32 percent of Americans said it was easier to take time off work for shorter periods, and another 32 percent said they did not need more than five nights for the purpose of the trip, like attending a wedding or visiting friends.
Other reasons include preferring to take more frequent shorter trips than fewer longer trips (26 percent), not wanting to spend money on longer trips (19 percent), and it being easier to find a travel companion for a shorter trip (10 percent).
The generational differences between responses demonstrate the varied reasons micro-cations appeal to different populations.
For instance, one-quarter of millennials say money is a primary reason to take shorter trips, which supports other findings that those with a higher income are more likely to vacation longer. More than half (51 percent) of people making US$50,000 or more took trips longer than five nights in the last year, compared to 29 percent of those who make less than US$50,000.
Taking less time off work was most important to Gen X’ers (40 percent), followed closely by millennials (37 percent) and then working baby boomers (20 percent).
Millennials (34 percent) and baby boomers (38 percent) take trips to attend special events or family occasions at much higher rates than Gen X’ers (23 percent), while finding a travel companion is more of a concern to millennials (18 percent) than Gen X’ers (seven percent) and baby boomers (three percent).
“The days of the ubiquitous week-long summer vacation may be disappearing, but we’re happy to see that Americans, especially Millennials, are eager to travel more frequently,” said Allianz Global Assistance USA director of communications Daniel Durazo.
“The rise of micro-cations may also lead to increased interest in visiting vibrant domestic locales over exotic, far-flung destinations. Whether traveling for two nights or two weeks, travel insurance can protect you, your luggage and your vacation investment,” he added.