- About one-third (34%) of Gen Z who plan to travel home for the holidays say their parents will pay for their travel
- One-third of Gen Z who plan to take on debt this season will do so to visit family and friends this holiday season
- Nearly one-third of Gen Z (32%) will be unable to afford traveling home for the holidays because of student loan repayments
Traveling home for the holidays comes at a cost, especially for young Americans trying to navigate a challenging economic environment plagued by high interest rates, stubborn inflation, all-time high credit card debt, a declining U.S. savings rate, and the return of student loan payments. As a result, many are having to stay put and forgo traveling home to see their families for the holidays. That is, unless their parents foot their bill.
According to a study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma, 54% of Gen Z plan to travel home for the holidays this year, and more than half of them (56%) say their parents or family members will cover their travel costs (34% covered by parents, 22% covered by another family member). But, not all Gen Z have that luxury. Of Gen Z respondents who don’t plan to travel home for the holidays (31%), nearly one-in-five (18%) say it’s because their parents are unable to cover their travel expenses this year. Other reasons for not traveling home include inflation (22%), lack of savings (20%), flights and gas being too expensive (18% and 20%, respectively) and prioritizing spending on other aspects of the holidays, like gifts instead of travel (18%).
Gen Z will take on debt to afford holiday travel
Holiday cheer comes at a higher cost for Gen Z, with 40% saying they plan to spend more money this holiday season, compared to the last. This is largely driven by travel-related costs. According to the study, Gen Z expects to spend more on things like travel to see family and/or friends (24%), inflation (24%), travel for vacation (21%), increased gas prices (17%) and increased airline prices (16%).
Since Gen Z plans to spend more money this holiday season, it’s no surprise a majority plan to take on debt (66%) – and travel is one of the leading causes. One-third of Gen Z who plan to take on debt this season will do so to visit family and friends this holiday season. To offset some of that debt, 39% of Gen Z say they will rely on credit card points and rewards to pay for their holiday travel.
Traveling home is especially out of reach for student loan borrowers
Today’s high cost of living is making it impossible for some of Gen Z to travel home for the holidays, especially those with student loan debt. More than a quarter of Gen Z (28%) say student loan repayments will make the holidays unaffordable, and nearly one-third (32%) say they will not be able to travel home for the holidays because of their student loan payments. What’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year has many Gen Z channeling the Grinch with nearly one-third (32%) saying they wish the holidays were canceled this year because of the cost.
“Today’s challenging economy is putting a damper on the holidays for many young Americans, especially those who can’t lean on their families for financial support,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “While the holidays are often considered to be a happy time of the year, they can cause a lot of financial stress to those struggling to make ends meet. If you’re stressed about money this holiday season, there may be some trade offs you can make in order to have some semblance of a celebratory holiday. If you can’t afford to travel home, treat yourself to a nice meal, or join a friend whose family may be local. If being with your family is your number one priority for the holidays, forgo other holiday-related expenses such as giving gifts if it means freeing up money to put toward travel.”
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma between October 10, 2023 and October 18, 2023 among 1,000 adults ages 18 and older.