Heritage, Service and Cultural Exploration Lead Teen Travel Trends in 2015

The Family Travel Forum Student Travel Trends Report finds increase in teen travel for international heritage and volunteer trips, while so-called “vacations” diminish in popularity.

(New York, December 2, 2015) – Family Travel Forum, the global family vacation planning resource, released findings on student travel trends from the 9th annual FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship. Sponsored by several travel industry partners, the merit scholarship received applications from more than 3,000 teens in American and Canadian junior high and high schools, American schools abroad, and in U.S. homeschool programs. Applicants chose how to categorize their own travel motivations and activities.

* More than half of the teen applicants traveled outside the United States by their 18th birthday, a number that increased from 49% to 52% since last year’s report. 
          * Heritage trips, when teens travel to explore their roots, represent 9% of all travel tales, an increase of 50% in five years.
          * Despite their expense, the growth in heritage trips demonstrates how valuable they are among immigrant families. Top destinations included China, The Philippines, India and the Dominican Republic, in line with the latest U.S. immigration statistics.

“Families continue to support all types of teen travel as an important component of education,” notes Senior Editor, Fran Falkin. “Whether for exploring culture, experiencing the outdoors, discovering family roots, or enjoying time en famille, parents endorse — and find ways to finance — teen travel opportunities.”

* Although 62% of teens reported traveling with family members, 4 in 10 rejected “vacation” and chose another motivator (21% Cultural Exploration, 12% Heritage, Other 3.5%, Service 1.5%) as the primary reason for their trip. FTF analysts believe this reflects a greater emphasis on learning above relaxation while traveling, and the teens’ need to justify the expense of travel as an investment in the future.
* The most popular blog topics were service / mission trips, and heritage trips to meet grandparents. Popular destinations included Nicaragua and The Philippines.

        *  A majority of blogs expressed an appreciation for the natural world, or gratitude for a privileged lifestyle and for the sacrifices made by family.
        *  The decline in travel within North America was matched by increases in student travel to Asia, the Caribbean and Europe. Travel to Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific remained constant, while there was a slight decrease in trips to Central and South America year over year.

Family Travel Forum’s annual teen scholarship is hosted on MyFamilyTravels.com, the best source for parents and grandparents planning fun family vacations. For the complete report, visit Family Travel Forum Teen Travel Trends Report to download a PDF version. To read more of the winning work, please visit Teen Travel Writing Scholarship Winners 2015

About FTF
Family Travel Forum has been the trusted vacation planning resource for global travel with kids and grandkids since 1996. FTF’s expert and community content has been seen on Disney’s Family.com and other sites, in “America’s Most Popular Family Vacations,” “The Complete Idiots Guide to the Best Family Destinations,” “Amazing Places to Take Your Kids in North America” and by millions of traveling families. In addition to co-hosting the annual TMS Family Travel Summit and conferences, FTF ventures include the “The Family Vacationist” blog and e-alert; and Family Travel Consulting to the trade in partnership with Taking the Kids.

About FTF’s Travel Industry Partners
FTF is grateful to the many industry sponsors who made the 2015 Scholarship possible: Travel Media Showcase brings together leading print and broadcast travel media with tourism representatives from around the world to showcase new regions for media to cover, and connect destinations with qualified leads. Both TMS and TMS Family Travel are divisions of J. Vero & Associates. Taking the Kids is the nationally syndicated travel column by Eileen Ogintz with millions of readers around the country. The Society of American Travel Writers, a tax-exempt, professional association established in 1955, includes journalists, editors, photographers, filmmakers, bloggers, and communications professionals who specialize in the travel industry. The Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation expands the economic prosperity of the Niagara USA communities by generating individual and group visitation.


Contact: Fran Falkin
mail: FTFstaff @familytravelforum.com

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