NEW YORK — Forget going off the grid — half of millennials stay more connected with friends and family while traveling than when they’re home, according to a recent survey. By comparison, only 37 percent of Gen X respondents stay more connected with loved ones during their travels than in their day-to-day lives. When the unexpected occurs on the road, however, nearly half (48%) of Gen Zers call an immediate family member.
Overall, the top three preferred methods of communication while traveling are text messaging (47%), calling (39%), and video calls (32%). While Gen Z favors texting (54%), millennials use chat apps such as WhatsApp and Viber (41%), and Gen X still prefers phone calls (41%).
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of AT&T, researchers surveyed 3,000 U.S. adults divided evenly among Generation Z (age 18–25), millennials (26–41), Generation X (42–57), and baby boomers (58–76). Regardless of age, 60 percent would be completely lost if they misplaced their phone when traveling. More than a third (36%) of those who use social media don’t feel like they’ve had a real vacation unless they post about it.
Getting the post-pandemic vacation bug
Some are ramping up their travels, with 37 percent traveling more now than they were before the pandemic. Of those who are taking more trips, 44 percent have more free time and the same number agree that the lifting of pandemic-related travel restrictions was a contributing factor that helped drive their decision to travel more.
A third of people enjoyed traveling across North America (32%) over the summer, and almost a quarter (24%) planned a trip to Europe. Other destinations included the Caribbean or Bahamas (18%) and Central America (16%).
Travel “must-haves” frequently include a smartphone or tablet (44%), sanitizer (37%), face masks (36%), and at-home COVID tests (27%).
No Wi-Fi? No sale!
The most popular apps people depend on when traveling include maps (37%), Google Translate (28%), airline apps (27%), and booking apps (26%). Gen Zers are more likely than Gen Xers to summon Google Translate when on the road (37% vs. 29%). As for map apps, 42 percent of Gen Z and Gen X respondents prefer using these tools, with only 28 percent of boomers relying on them to chart their course.
For 35 percent of Americans, too many pandemic-related regulations would be deal-breakers for traveling abroad, while 29 percent are turned off by a lack of options for flights or hotels. One in four also say they wouldn’t consider international travel without access to mobile connectivity. Seven in 10 agree that unlimited talk, text, and high-speed data are important when traveling internationally. Forty percent prefer to have a data plan and about a third (32%) rely on free Wi-Fi.
“People want an international plan that not only connects them back home, but is simple to use and doesn’t break the bank,” says Jeni Bell, senior vice president of wireless product marketing at AT&T, in a statement. “With 37 percent of people traveling now more than they were before the pandemic, being able to upload photos on social or make a video call back home is more important than ever.”