New global study reveals generational and global perspectives on the value of travel, inspiring Four Seasons to create experiences big and small that make the most of every moment

In a year where we have been given one extra day, Four Seasons set out to discover what is most meaningful to travelers, looking at both the value of time off and how we choose to spend that time.

According to a new global study commissioned by Four Seasons, almost everyone surveyed, across geographies and age groups, valued more vacation time over more money if given the choice, reaffirming that time continues to be the greatest luxury of all. The study of adults from the US, UK, China and the *GCC revealed that more than half of Millennials (54 percent), Gen X (53 percent) and Boomers (56 percent) would opt for more vacation days over more compensation.  Only Gen Z – many of whom have the luxury of more time yet seek financial independence – value a raise (62 percent) over more days off (38 percent).

By contrast, the wish list for how we spend our time while travelling is much more universal, spanning all generations surveyed. Reflecting our ongoing quest for fulfilment, travelers of all ages seek meaningful and personally fulfilling experiences, both big and small, that leave them feeling more interested in different cultures, more engaged with the world, and more deeply connected to themselves and others.

"Today's travelers are seeking purpose through authentic experiences, returning home with a different understanding of the world around them,” says Christian Clerc, President, Global Operations, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

What Comfort Zone?

Travel can often lead us to do things we never dreamed possible, casting aside our daily routines so that we can experience the world differently. When it comes to life post-vacation, the key to "coming home different" might be taking part in transformative experiences that push us and broaden our horizons.

The survey found that younger travelers – Millennials and Gen Z – are bigger risk-takers compared to Boomers; however, nearly all (95 percent) respondents agreed that a vacation is when they would be most likely to step outside of their comfort zone. In fact, more than a third of travelers have done something while on holiday that they didn't know they could, like trying a new sport or learning a new skill to challenge themselves mentally and physically. This is particularly true for respondents in China, where two-thirds (66 percent) of Chinese adults surveyed say their travel style is better described as "getting out of their comfort zone" versus other markets (45 percent).

Come Home Different

Collectively, we see the world differently after having been on vacation, with travel offering us time to reflect, be our best selves and embrace new ways of thinking. Reinforcing the notion of a "post-vacation glow," more than half (51 percent) of global respondents noted feeling more motivated, more optimistic (46 percent) and more patient at work (42 percent) after a holiday.

Close to 4 in 5 (79 percent) Americans agree that after a vacation, they are more productive in the workplace. In the UK, nearly 3 in 5 respondents who've "come home different" say they did so with greater positivity or optimism, more appreciation for their loved ones (45 percent), better understanding of others' motivations (39 percent) and greater ability to manage stress (38 percent).

After taking time off, adults from the GCC are maintaining their vacation happiness for significantly longer than other respondents, at an average of 26 days versus 15 in other regions. UK residents maintain their vacation happiness for only 11 days on average, the shortest amount of all respondents.

Broadening personal horizons can also produce lifelong benefits. Nearly 3 in 5 respondents reported adopting new interests as a result of their travels, such as listening to new music (43 percent), learning new languages (36 percent) and appreciating new forms of art (36 percent). Younger adults are especially eager to take a new path to fulfilment while on vacation, with three quarters of those under 40 picking up a new hobby or interest. The most popular travel takeaway? Universally, the most common new interest across age groups and regions is cooking or eating new foods (56 percent), reinforcing the importance of unique and authentic dining experiences.

This leap year, Four Seasons offers a chance to take a pause with Take Your Time: Daily Discoveries, a collection of Four Seasons experiences that require no more than 1 day, 1 hour or even 1 minute.

Whether a quiet moment of meditation, an hour spent walking historic grounds, or full-day guided expedition, curated experiences driving deeper connections are available at properties worldwide.

1 Minute

Moscow, Russia: Chimes of Spasskaya
Sip a glass of Champagne on the balcony of a Four Seasons Imperial Suite, listening as the chimes of Spasskaya Tower ring out through Red Square.

Hoi An, Vietnam: A Goodnight Kiss
The body resonates with healing vibrations as it's bathed in the evocative music of singing bowls during the spa's nightly ritual. Set intention in writing, and then release a wishing candle onto the lotus pond as we say goodnight to the earth.

1 Hour
Mexico City, Mexico: Top of The Hill
Wander the sunlit halls and take in city panoramas from the terraces of Castillo de Chapultepec, a massive 18th-century castle atop Chapultepec Hill, within walking distance of Four Seasons.

Sydney, Australia: Scale New Heights
Take it one step at a time. The 360-degree views after a challenging 1,332-step walk up the towering Sydney Harbour Bridge are well worth the climb.

1 Day
Athenian Riviera, Greece: Slow Down on the Sea

Cruise the Aegean aboard a traditional kaiki boat and embrace a slower pace of life. Go fishing, see ancient sites, swim in the Saronic Gulf and savour local flavours during a romantic sunset dinner aboard a private vessel.

Langkawi, Malaysia: Natural History
Glide through a maze of 550 million–year-old cliffs and tangled mangroves and spot Langkawi's Flying Five on the Mangrove and Eagles Safari with Four Seasons, followed by a trip to the Geopark Discovery Centre and a family barbecue on a private villa patio.

*GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 5,000 adults ages 18+ in 4 markets, with 2,000 in the UK and 1,000 in each of the following markets: US, China, and GCC, between December 16 and December 23, 2019, using an email invitation and an online survey.