Family Travel Forum

Experiential Trips and Vacations Top Teen Travel Trends in 2017

The Family Travel Forum Teen Travel Trends Report finds teens prefer cultural explorations and vacation travel while “heritage” trips diminish in frequency.

(New York, January 5, 2018) - Family Travel Forum, the vacation planning resource trusted by families since 1996, has released findings on student travel trends from its 11th annual FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship. The 2017 merit scholarship received applications from nearly 2,000 teens in American, Canadian, American international schools, and U.S. homeschool programs. Student bloggers chronicled every type of adventure in destinations around the world and tagged their scholarship submissions with travel motivations and activities.

Key Findings: FTF 2017 Teen Travel Trends Report

♦ While the majority of 2016 applicants reported on travel within the United States, this year, the number of foreign trip blogs increased by 3 points to 50%.

♦ Heritage trips, defined as teens traveling to explore their roots, decreased 38% year-over-year (from 13% to 8%) of all travel tales. 

"Despite their expense, heritage trips are highly valued among immigrant families and their decline may be as a result of increased anxiety among parents about visa status and border crossings,” notes Senior Editor, Fran Falkin.  

Teens Fuel Travel Trends Among General Leisure Travelers

♦ Overall, 70% of teens reported traveling with family, and 28% of those teens chose “Exploring” as in cultural exploration, as their primary reason for going. Family Travel Consulting analysts believe this reflects a greater emphasis on adding an educational component to family vacations, and on sharing new experiences with family.

♦ 38% of all teens wrote about their “Vacation” trips. As expected, 71% of the trips tagged with Vacation were taken with family.

♦ “Heritage” trips and “Volunteering” were each the motivation to travel for 8% of applicants, both down from 2016 numbers.

♦ In their blogs, many teens expressed an appreciation for the natural world, gratitude for a privileged lifestyle, and for the sacrifices made by parents to support it.

Family Travel Forum’s annual teen scholarship is hosted on, the trusted resource for parents and grandparents planning fun family vacations. For the complete report, download a PDF version. To read more of the winning work, please visit Teen Travel Writing Scholarship Winners 2017.

About FTF

Family Travel Forum has been the trusted vacation planning resource for global travel with kids and grandkids since 1996. FTF’s expert and community content has been seen on Disney's and other sites, in "America’s Most Popular Family Vacations," "The Complete Idiots Guide to the Best Family Destinations," "Amazing Places to Take Your Kids in North America" and by millions of traveling families. In addition to co-hosting the annual TMS Family Travel Summit and conferences, FTF ventures include the "The Family Vacationist" blog and e-alert; and Family Travel Consulting to the trade in partnership with Taking the Kids.

About FTF’s Travel Industry Partners

FTF is grateful to the many industry sponsors who made the 2017 Scholarship possible: Allianz Global Assistance, a leading specialty insurance and assistance company best known for its travel insurance, insures 25 million customers in the United States. In addition to FTF’s Teen Travel Writing Scholarship, they support the education of young travelers through their own ScholarTrips essay contest. Travel Media Showcase brings together leading print and broadcast travel media with tourism representatives from around the world to showcase new regions for media to cover, and connect destinations with qualified leads. Both TMS and TMS Family Travel are divisions of J. Vero & AssociatesThe Society of American Travel Writers, a professional association established in 1955, includes journalists, editors, photographers, filmmakers, bloggers, and communications professionals who specialize in the travel industry. We also thank CityPASS and Lonely Planet for their in-kind contributions.