How Canadian and American Vacation Habits Stack Up By Generation

And what all ages are getting wrong about travel.

Photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash

We recently wrote that American Millennials take more trips compared to their younger and older counterparts—about 5.6 ventures a year—but are gone for 6.2 days per trip, the shortest of any generation. The Canadian edition of that same survey was just released, and found that Canadian Millennials also take the most vacations per year, at about 3.1 trips. They’re away for a while, averaging 8.5 days, stays that are longer than all generations except for Boomers.

The survey was conducted by Northstar Research Partners and Expedia Media Solutions. They asked 1,001 Canadians who had booked a trip online in the last year to answer survey questionsabout their vacation habits.

The honor of shortest trip duration for Canadians goes to Gen Z, the youngins between 18 and 23 years old. They take an average of 2.6 trips per year and are away for around 8.2 days per trip. Gen X, people between 36 and 55 years old, take an average of 2.8 trips per year that last around 7.5 days. And Boomers, those over 55-years-old, take only 2.7 trips per year but make up for it by averaging a whopping 10.5 days per trip.

According to both surveys, Americans take fewer vacations—and for a shorter amount of time—compared to Canadians. That makes sense considering the U.S. is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation, according to a report from the Center for Economic Policy Research. Not to mention that Americans (especially younger generations) often don’t use the vacation days they do have.

Compared to the rest of the wealthy world, Canada doesn’t have the most generous paid time off policy, either. That same Center for Economic Policy Research report found Canada is third last (ahead of only Japan and the U.S.) in terms of paid time off. Canada averages just 19 days—ten paid vacation days and nine paid holidays.

What they do with those days off is not all that different from Americans. The trends are, perhaps unsurprisingly, pretty similar: younger Canadians and Americans opt for “YOLO” trips, according to the surveys, where they can embrace opportunities that let them cross things off their bucket lists. Both Canadian and American Millennials reported being most interested in immersing themselves in arts and culture while traveling compared to their younger and older peers, and were more likely to make plans around food and drink.

There are interesting differences, though. American Millennials seemed to prioritize relaxation more than anyone: 83 percent of them agreed with wanting to take naps on the beach, get spa treatments and the like. (Which, as we wrote about previously, might have something to do with how stressed out American Millennials are.) Canadian Millennials weren’t as interested in chilling out: only 62 percent of them reported seeking this sort of relaxation during their travels.

Neither Canadians nor Americans are doing a great job unplugging from their devices while away, though Canadian Boomers—expectedly—do a bit better than the younger generations and compared to American Boomers. Upwards of 70 percent of Americans, including Boomers, reported using their smartphones while traveling. Canadians reported similar percentages, aside from Gen X (61 percent) and Boomers (46 percent).

While this data provides insight on how generations across borders travel, it also points to just how many people aren’t actually reaping the restorative rewards of getting away as they’re still face-down in their phones. One tip for all ages: try taking your most tempting apps, whether it be Gmail or Instagram, off your phone while you travel. Future you will thank you. 

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