Generation Y travellers benefit from parental funding

Ben Smith

For decades young people have been taking the advantage of the opportunity to travel after they finish their studies and before they are burdened with more serious responsibilities such as a full- time career and a mortgage.

But getting the cash together to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip such as this has often proven to be the biggest hurdle.

In the past, young would-be travellers took part-time jobs and holiday work to save up enough for their airfare and basic accommodation, and then backpacked their way through their destination of choice, staying at youth hostels and taking cash-in-hand work to extend their trip.

Now a new generation of young travellers are finding the going significantly easier, thanks to a little bit of financial support from their generous parents.

Twenty-year-old traveller Callum Smith recently returned from an eight-week trip throughout Europe.

He says he was able to fund his travels thanks to extra cash from his parents and due to that fact he still lives at home and so was able to save money more easily.

Smith says he completed a college course at age 18 and then worked part time for a year in the hospitality industry to save spending money for his trip.

“My mother supported me with my flights over to Europe, which was a big help,” he says.

“I funded the rest, which was roughly around $5000 I had saved.

“I was also living at home at the time, which meant that I did not have to pay rent and saving was a lot easier.”

Smith says many of the young travellers he met on his journey were aged between 23 and 25 years, and had completed their university studies and were using money from parents as well as money saved from doing part time work while at university to fund their trips.

“I met plenty of people who had just completed their studies, have obviously not paid their HECS while at university and had a bunch of savings from a part time job while studying,” he says.

Although youth travel has been popular for generations, its popularity is still on the increase, with the Association of Youth Travel Accommodation indicating an estimated a worldwide international market of 176 million international youth tourism trips per year in 2009, compared with about 160 million in 2005.

In fact, figures from the World Youth Student and Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation, a global not-for-profit trade association dedicated to youth and student travel, show that in 2009, 20 per cent of all international visitors in any country were young travellers and backpackers.

Imogen Evans, a Student Flight Centre travel agent at Griffith University’s Nathan Campus, says she believes a majority of Generation Y travellers have their parents’ help to fund their journey overseas.

“Young travellers are always on a tight budget unless their parents are paying,” Evans says.

“Therefore, as most young travellers are on a tight budget, they will always want the cheapest flight even if it has an extra three stopovers and takes 40 hours to get there just to save them $200,” she says.

Glenda Halliwell, a travel agent at Jetset Travel agrees with Evans and says many Gen Y travellers rely on other sources to obtain their travelling money.

“Yes, money is always an issue with young travellers,” Halliwell says.

“The best way around this is to get your parent’s credit card.

“I do think the current generation of travellers are funded-or at least partially-by their parents.

“I think it has a lot to do with the parents being travellers themselves and they want their children to have the same experience.

“When I went to Europe at 20, which was a little while ago, I would work and save my own money then head off travelling until I ran out of money and then start the same cycle again.

“It was perfect.

“[It’s] a little bit different to the current generation of travellers, not to say all are relying on parent funding, but there are plenty who are getting help from parents.”

Of course, not all young travellers are students.

Twenty-three-year-old traveller Anthony Gray has just returned from a three-month trip to America.

He isn’t a university student, but decided to travel after being made redundant at a full-time job he worked at for two years.

Mr Gray says he left on his trip with plenty of funds from his redundancy, but did not hold back with his spending.

“Towards the end of my overseas trip I had to request the folks wire me some cash,” Gray says.

“I wasn’t really sparse with my money up until that point, however I have no regrets about it and had a blast,” said he says.

“I always had that thought in the back of my mind while overseas that I could fall back on my parents if I came short of cash.”

Twenty-nine-year-old Griffith university student Sindre Nordeide is a frequent traveller who took his first big trip before he started university.

He says if it wasn’t for the financial support he got from his parents he would not have been able to explore the world as extensively as he has.

“I basically asked my dad for money,” Nordeide says.

“Once high school was over, I wanted to travel and asked my dad for money.

“I guess it was as a ‘loan’ at the time, but the money has never been paid back.”

Nordeide says he quit high school four months before graduating due to lack of motivation and travelled to Spain and Greece for two months.

He says he graduated school after he returned from the trip.

But his first overseas adventure left Nordeide firmly infected with the travel bug and he says he now travels six or seven times a year, although he’s still a student.

“After that trip I have been travelling in almost every break I have had since.”

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