It's hard to believe it’s already December! With the holiday season fully underway, we’re featuring some of our favorite places to unwind in front of a fireplace this winter—hopefully with some of your favorite people. Speaking of winter, we’re highlighting a recent trip to the Scandinavian Arctic, complete with a viewing of the Northern Lights. Beaches more your speed? We’ve got the lowdown on some of the best hotels in Anguilla. From all of us at First in Service, we wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year. Cheers to 2019!
Erika Reategui and Fernando Gonzalez
Whether you’re a parent to a member of Generation Z—that post-Millennial generation born between 1995 and 2012—or you’re planning trips for families with destinations and activities for kids and teens, it’s smart to stay in-the-know about this new generation of young travelers and the travel experiences they’re seeking.
To find out, we went straight to the source. Sofia Gonzalez, the 13-year-old daughter of First in Service CEO Fernando Gonzalez, and his wife Awilda (who has also worked in the travel industry for years), has been traveling the world since she was nine months old—and to date has visited over 30 countries.
And Sofia’s friends are just as well-versed in seeing the world: Kyra Menon took her first trip when she was just a month old, and has traveled to a new country every year since, including visiting her native India every summer. Angelina Lieberman, who is in 8th grade just like Kyra and Sofia, was born in Honduras and has been to over 35 countries.
We talked with them about their summer vacations—and to find out what they think are some of the most important things to consider when it comes to Gen Z travel.
Choose culturally-enriching experiences. While most won’t pass up a chance to visit a cool amusement park or other kid-centric activity, that’s not all these kids and teens are looking for—they also want to be immersed in the culture of the place they’re visiting. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be an extravagant thing,” says Angelina. “It could just be going to talk to someone who’s from that country and have a full conversation about where they’re living to give you a perspective of where you are.” That also includes experiencing cultural touchstones. For Sofia, that was everything from visiting the Blue Grotto in Capri to shopping in Milan on her summer vacation in Italy this year.
Give them a day where they plan the itinerary. “I think families should let their kids control the trip for the day just to see their perspective,” says Sofia. An example? “In Mexico, I wanted to go to a water park called Xplor,” she says, but her parents wanted to relax at the resort. Eventually, the family decided to go and had an experience they wouldn’t otherwise have had—zip lining through waterfalls and swimming in underground caves. “We ended up having a really great time,” she says. Kyra echoes this sentiment. While traveling in India this summer, she wanted to visit the site of The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, a deadly massacre that took place in 1919. Her parents thought she might be too young, but she did her research and convinced them. “They were really glad we went,” she says.
Show them things that are meaningful to you, too. For Angelina, who spent her summer in Europe, including France and Belgium, a favorite part of her vacation was visiting her dad’s childhood home in Antwerp. “One of my favorite experiences was when we went to Antwerp—to see where my dad grew up and see all the stories come to life,” she says. “My dad, my mom and I had a very good conversation about his life and everything he’s gone through. It was just an amazing time.” And sometimes it’s learning about places that are important to their parents—but to them, too: “My favorite part of this summer was traveling in India, the country I go to every summer for two months,” says Kyra. “I really got the chance to enrich myself in the culture of my birth country and I learned lots of things I didn’t know before, which really shows me how much of a foreigner I am in my own country!” And she can’t wait to learn more.
Though they’re still young, many Gen Z-ers are experienced travelers who are not just looking to simply visit a country, but to get to know the culture, the people—and get to the root of what makes that country so unique. And they’ll continue to seek out these experiences as they travel with their families, and eventually, strike out to see the world on their own.