49% of Millennials Willing to Take a Pay Cut for a Free Vacation

When it comes to travel priorities, there's a disconnect across generations.

Although the average American has $6,354 in outstanding credit card debt, travel is still a chief priority for many individuals. ValuePenguin polled more than 1,000 Americans and found that most would use an unexpected $1,000 cash gift for paying off debt and saving, followed by travel. Just 10% said they would go shopping with the money, indicating most people prefer to spend their money on meaningful experiences away from home.

Key findings:

  • 49% of millennials are willing to take a pay cut for a free vacation (compared to 38% of Gen Xers and 29% of baby boomers).
  • Millennials are more likely than baby boomers to say travel is "extremely important" to them personally (17% versus 11%).
  • Millennials are more willing to travel solo than other generations (81% are either willing or have done so before, compared to 69% of Gen Xers and 56% of baby boomers).
  • For a free vacation, millennials are more likely than other age groups to say they'd give up watching TV, using smartphones and buying coffee for a year. Gen Xers are more likely to agree to forgo meals out, while baby boomers are more likely to cut off buying new clothes.

Would you be willing to take a pay cut of $2,500 each year if it meant you could take a vacation?

Millennials are more willing to take a pay cut in order to take a vacation.

Pay cut for a vacation statistics

17% of millennials say travel is "extremely important" compared to just 11% of baby boomers

Our survey found that 17% of millennials feel travel is extremely important, compared to just 11% of boomers. Baby boomers are more likely to say travel is "not at all important to them" compared to millennials (18% versus 13%).

Travel is of utmost importance for millennials

Though millennials place a greater emphasis on the importance of travel, baby boomers are more likely to spend an unexpected cash gift on travel (17% versus 13% of millennials), while millennials are more likely to either invest the money (10%) or go on a shopping spree (12%).

We asked all generations how they would most want to spend an unexpected cash gift of $1,000. Here are the responses:

How would you want to use an unexpected cash gift of $1,000

Millennials are more likely to travel solo than other generations

Would you ever take a leisure trip by yourself?

Yes I am willing or have done so% of age group
Gen Z75.0%
Gen X69.2%
Baby boomers56.2%

Traveling solo is a popular option across all age groups, with millennials the most likely to travel solo (80.6%) and baby boomers the least likely (56.2%). Nearly three-quarters of Gen Z and Gen X respondents also said they would take a leisure trip alone.

However, when looking at the breakdown by gender identification, it's clear that men are much more comfortable traveling alone than women. As much as 53% of men have traveled alone in the past, in contrast to 31% of women. In addition, 42% of women said they would never travel alone for leisure, while only 20% of men felt that way.


ValuePenguin commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,009 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the general population. The survey was conducted July 1–3, 2019.

Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).