Traveling with friends is nothing new but because of the confluence of demographics and economics, it’s a phenomenon that appears to be gaining popularity across all age groups.
The travel industry has responded, too, with a proliferation of promotional offers—including girlfriend getaways, mancations, and villa rental properties appropriate for stays by multiple couples or multiple families—to name just a few.
Results of a survey
A Harris Interactive survey found that, except for traveling with spouses or partners, friends are our preferred travel companions—-surprisingly, ranking higher than other blood relatives, such as children and parents.
- About one-third (33 percent) of those surveyed, who had already taken a vacation in 2012 or were planning to take one, were doing so with friends. Even more (45 percent) said they would prefer to travel with their friends.
- Only ten percent of the respondents said they preferred to travel solo. Another finding: Although both genders equally enjoy vacationing with friends, men were more likely to do so than women.
Commissioned by Inspirato (a private luxury vacation club with properties around the world), the survey polled more than 2500 respondents in ten major cities across America. Although, the findings don’t shed light on WHY traveling with friends is on the rise, here are five possibilities:
Why traveling with friends may be on the rise
Duh, everyone doesn’t have a wife, husband or partner
Although the survey found that spouses and partners are preferred travel companions, just over half (51 percent) of all Americans are married (a record low) and people are marrying at older ages (a median of 26.5 years for women and 28.7 for men). That leaves about half of the pool of potential travelers without spouses. Also, as people live longer, many widows and widowers are wanting to continue traveling into their 70s and 80s.
Have spouse/partner; he/she won’t travel
Sometimes a source of irritation in a marriage, many partners don’t want or aren’t able to travel. They may be fearful of flying or are just happier staying at home. Others may be tied to their jobs, or homebound for other reasons. While married people may not be entirely comfortable traveling alone, they welcome the opportunity to travel with a good friend.
That’s the way they like it
The old adage still rings true: You choose your friends but you can’t choose your relatives. Many people find they prefer traveling with friends, whether the trip is to explore a new city or relax at the beach. In fact, some travelers cringe at the thought of being cooped up with family members who bring the same old baggage from childhood on a trip, and they may not really consider that a true vacation at all.
Also, many travelers have hobbies or interests that don’t overlap with those of a spouse. This is one reason for the growing popularity of gender-specific vacations, girlfriend getaways (that often highlight spas and shopping) and mancations (for golf, wrangling cattle, or playing poker).
It’s the economy, stupid
The economy has taken a toll on the purse strings of most Americans, making trips with friends even more enticing. While there are cost-savings achieved through traveling as a couple (as opposed to going it alone), traveling with a small group of friends or with one or more other couples can be even more cost-effective. For example, friends can share a villa or beach house, or arrange for shared transportation to and from and airport, with the cost divided by the number of persons on the trip.
Traveling strengthens friendships
If you have a hard time hacking it through dinner with a friend who is an incessant talker, you probably would loathe being away with her or him for a week or even a weekend. Being contained on an inside cabin on a ship might put you over the edge. But if you enjoy the company of certain friends, traveling with them can enhance the experience. No two people are alike or travel in the same way, so your friend (whether a single or a couple) is likely to introduce you to new ways of experiencing the world around you.
A press release from Inspirato summarizing the study’s findings notes, “Almost all respondents agreed that vacations are beneficial to relationships. Ninety-five percent of respondents said that vacations can create memories that last a lifetime and 91 percent said that taking a vacation is a great way to grow closer to the ones you love.”