Milestone travel: Half of adults think vacations reserved only for special occasions

NEW YORK — Those who travel to celebrate special occasions are happier and more successful than those who don’t, according to new research. A survey of 2,000 U.S. adults looked at their thoughts on milestone travel and found that while 48 percent save travel for special occasions, another 40 percent think you should travel as much as you can.

Respondents who vacation to celebrate their special moments are more likely to say they’re happy (88% vs. 76%) and deem themselves successful (89% vs. 71%) than those who believe in traveling as much as possible.

Those who believe travel should be reserved for occasions are also likely to describe themselves as cynical (45%), brave (45%) and loyal (45%). On the other hand, those who believe in traveling as much as possible say they’re not only loyal (44%), but also intelligent (34%) and funny (31%).

Overall, a majority of all respondents agree that it’s important to celebrate momentous occasions (83%) and nearly three-quarters claim they go all out when doing so (74%).

Milestones worth celebrating

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of BeachBound, the survey found that while many go on vacation to celebrate romantic milestones such as their honeymoon (46%) and wedding (45%), others also take trips to celebrate yearly occasions like anniversaries (45%) and birthdays (45%).

Respondents reveal that the top birthdays worth a trip away are turning 50 (38%), 30 (35%) and 25 (31%). People have also traveled to celebrate other big moments in their lives like buying a home (29%), graduating high school (25%) and getting a job (20%).

When celebrating these occasions away, respondents reported feeling loved (48%), blissful (38%) and even motivated for what comes next (44%).

People toasting their drinks on vacation

More than seven in 10 admit they’re also more likely to talk to strangers on vacation than their normal day-to-day (77%), and 60 percent would even enjoy being congratulated by strangers if they were celebrating a special occasion.

It’s no surprise, then, that most respondents wish they could be their vacation selves at home (78%).

Spending habits on vacation

To share this feeling, 55 percent have gifted a loved one a vacation to celebrate a milestone, and 62 percent would love it if someone did the same for them.

“A vacation is a way to try new experiences and build new memories and that’s why we’re seeing people express an interest in traveling to celebrate those meaningful moments and milestones,” says vice president of marketing of consumer brands at ALG Vacations, Dana Studebaker, in a statement. “It’s a way to extend that moment and make it extra memorable.”

The survey also looked at respondents’ views on what these celebratory trips should look like and found that more people prefer to celebrate milestones with intimate gatherings (37%) as opposed to large crowds (23%).

Interestingly, more Americans also think that the host or guest of honor should front the costs (28%) instead of the invited guests (24%).

To make these memories count, people would splurge on dining (60%) and experiences (58%) to celebrate a milestone more than if it were a regular vacationThe itinerary should also consist of dinner at a fancy restaurant (53%), having cake or some other celebratory food (52%) and decking the guest of honor out with a specialty item like a sash or crown (52%).

To make sure all falls into place, more than a quarter of respondents would start planning for this trip at least six months out (28%).

“Birthdays and anniversaries occur every year but by choosing to plan trips around specific milestones such as a 50th birthday, 10th anniversary, or even huge achievements such as a job promotion or graduation help justify the costs surrounding travel,” says Studebaker. “More so than on a regular vacation, we believe that milestone trips should be excuses to pull out all the stops and get a massage, book the private dinner, treat yourself and your loved ones to an experience that you’ll never forget.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by BeachBound between Feb. 16 and Feb. 21, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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