Family Travel Trends: Cultural Travel By Teens Increases Sharply - My Family Travels
Water Buffalo in Vietnam

FTF’s annual Student Travel Trends Report, derived from thousands of blogs submitted to the 2012 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship competition, reveals that international travel among 13 to 18-year-olds continues to rise.

(Media only, New York, Dec 18, 2012) – Family Travel Forum, the global family vacation planning resource, released findings on student travel trends today from FTF’s 6th annual Teen Travel Writing Scholarship in conjunction with the Society of American Travel Writers. More than 6,300 teens ages 13-18, in American and Canadian junior high and high schools, American schools abroad, or in a U.S. homeschool program, competed for cash grants and a Universal Orlando Resort theme park vacation grand prize.

— 54% of teen applicants traveled outside the United States by their 18th birthday, a number that is steadily increasing since its rise above 50% last year.

— The number of heritage and culture trips chronicled by teens has risen dramatically to almost one-third of teen travel blogs (31%), up from one-fourth (25%) submitted in 2011.

— 11% of teens traveled on volunteer trips in 2012 and 2011, a stable number since a sharp increase between 2007 and 2008. These trips, many of which are subsidized by faith-based organizations, continue to be within the financial reach of families.

— 67% of teens said they traveled with family members, however only 53% indicated the primary reason for their trip was “vacation.”  FTF believes the 14% who reported a different travel motivation reflects the greater emphasis parents now place on the cultural, educational or community service benefits of family vacations taken together.

Notes Senior Editor, Fran Falkin, “Travel continues to be an important aspect of the teen experience.  Whether as a family, or with an organization or commercial tour, parents continue to encourage and support their teen’s interest in travel for learning, volunteerism or the traditional vacation. Having survived the recession, Teen Travel will hopefully increase even more as the economy rebounds and as families continue to value exposing their teens to other cultures and experiences through travel.”

— For 2012, among the most popular travel blog topics were stories about mission trips, cruises with major U.S. cruise lines, and U.S. family road trips.

— There was a decrease of five percentage points in travel within North America (from 60% in 2011 to 55% in 2012); with Europe, Africa and the Middle East benefiting from the greatest uptick in travel (by 2 percentage points each)according to an analysis of the blogs submitted.

Family Travel Forum’s annual teen scholarship is hosted on, the best source for parents and grandparents planning fun family vacations. For the complete report, visit Family Travel Forum Teen Travel Trends Report 2012 to download a PDF version.  To read more of the winning work, please visit Teen Travel Writing Scholarship Winners 2012

About FTF

Family Travel Forum (FTF) has helped globetrotters who “Have Kids, Still Travel!” with print and online guides since 1996. FTF sites have won many awards for their savvy tips and destination reviews; the Top 10 Getaway survey of resort-based infant programs; a robust Flee Market™; travel forums and the online community. FTF, author of “The Complete Idiots Guide to the Best Family Destinations” (Penguin, 2011), is also co-host of the annual Family Travel Conference for professional travel media.

About SATW

The Society of American Travel Writers was established in 1955, and its membership includes journalists, photographers, editors, filmmakers, bloggers, and communications professionals who specialize in the travel industry. SATW promotes responsible journalism, provides professional support and development for its members, and encourages the conservation and preservation of travel resources worldwide. To learn more about SATW, Travel’s Most Trusted Voices, visit

About Universal Orlando Resort

There are many ways to enjoy your Orlando vacation, but there is only one place where vacation becomes adventure:  Universal Orlando Resort. It is a unique destination featuring two theme parks, three magnificently themed on-site hotels and a nighttime entertainment complex. It’s the only Orlando destination where you are not just entertained – you become part of the most exhilarating entertainment ever created. You can soar above Hogwarts with Harry Potter, swing above the streets with Spider-Man, be transformed into a banana-loving minion in the hilarious and heartwarming Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride and help Shrek save Princess Fiona in Shrek 4-D.  Universal Orlando Resort is an NBCUniversal company.

# # #

Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.