How Millennials Relate to Adventure and The Outdoors

As a Millennial, one of roughly 80 million Americans born between the early 1980’s and the early 2000’s, I know that understanding my diverse generation can be challenging.

While ample research and media coverage has focused on our addictions to cell phones, laptops and social media, more could be understood about how Millennials relate to adventure and the great outdoors.

For insight into this topic, let’s look at the shifting marketing practices of outdoor retailers — those responsible for “selling” nature.

Speaking at an Outdoor Industry Association trade event, Jill Levinsohn, who lead a research project on the future of outdoor retail conducted by design and innovation firm, IDEO, found that “many young people view the outdoors as something that starts at their front door, is part of everyday life and is best experienced with friends and family.” Levinsohn added that to reach Millennials, retailers must “think of it as going from ‘Outdoorsy’ to ‘Outsidesy.’

If you look at the marketing messages of outdoor and adventure retailers, you may notice a shift away from high-octane images, like a solo kayaker traversing a waterfall, to images of groups experiencing a picture-perfect nature scene in a more leisurely fashion. This is the idea of adventure and the outdoors that Millennials are drawn to. Here’s why:


Millennials want to be together

 Millennials are highly social creatures who, according to research conducted by HVS, a travel and hospitality consulting firm, “are more likely [than any other group] to travel socially with friends and family.” HVS also notes that more than any other generation, Millennials will travel to pursue their personal and shared group interests, such as food, entertainment, shopping and outdoor activities.


Millennials want unique and special experiences (that they can share online)

There’s an old Millennial saying, “If you hike to the top of a beautiful mountain and don’t take a selfie, did it really even happen?” Alright, I’ll admit I made that up, but nonetheless, it holds truth.

According to a survey conducted by Chase Card Services, “Three in four Millennial travelers post to social networks at least once a day while traveling.” HVS add that when it comes to accommodations, Millennials search for “something extra” and the “cool factor,” as “they do not wish to Instagram a photo of a boring room to share that with their friends.”


Millennials want the finer things 

Millennials don’t like being too far from creature comforts. Leading travel and hospitality public relations firm, Turner PR, says, “Millennials are adventure seekers. [They] want to be immersed in the local culture while still maintaining the conveniences of home while on the road.”

Findings from the Chase Card Services also note that “Millennials are a tech savvy generation that values social connections, convenience and opportunities to indulge in luxuries.” The survey also found that more than any other group, Millennials are willing to indulge in luxury services while traveling.

What does this mean for Millennials and the outdoors?

When it comes to adventure and the outdoors, Millennials appear to natural born glampers. Here’s why:

  • Millennials want to be together – Like camping, glamping (glamorous camping) is an activity made better with the addition of friends or a significant other.  Simply put, sitting around a campfire alone is no fun.
  • Millennials want unique and special experiences (that they can share online) – With friends in tow, Millennials crave unique experiences that reflect who they are. Glamping experiences like sleeping in a safari tent on the beach in Fiji at Maquai Beach Surf Resort or in a treehouse in Costa Rica at Finca Bella Vista certainly fit the bill. Plus, glamping is guaranteed to produce a social media worthy photo.
  • Millennials want the finer things – The word ‘glamping’ can be misleading. It just sounds expensive. While you can indulge in splurge-worthy $1,000 per night accommodations, there are plenty of affordable ways to glamp that provide luxuries far beyond a tent with a sleeping bag on the ground — like staying in a cabin at Dale Farm Holidays in the United Kingdom, a yurt in Canada at Wya Point Resort, or an Airstream trailer at Santa Barbara Auto Camp in California.

Speaking from experience, I know that Millennials enjoy the great outdoors in different ways. No matter whether you like to get dirty or prefer a more refined experience, as long as you get outside and put down your cell phone (fine, just a few photos for Facebook) you’ll be on the right track.

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