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Disconnect to Reconnect: How Millennials Are Leveraging the Open Road to Break Away From Their Busy Lives

In the U.S., getting a driver’s license has historically been not only a rite of passage, but also a moment that shapes identity. It’s no surprise the desire to hit the open road in search of new experiences has often transcended generations as well.

As Millennials become the largest generation, and the generation whose life choices continue to break drastically away from previous generations, new evidence is emerging that their views on road trips also diverge.

A recent study of 1,004 Millennials (aged 23-38) conducted on behalf of Mazda shows new trends have emerged that can help us better understand what is driving Millennials to take a road trip — and what may be holding them back from their next adventure. Here are some key findings:

The Perfect Long Weekend Involves a Car & A Sense of Adventure

If given free time, 39 percent of Millennials surveyed would most like to go on a road trip. That’s 50 percent more than those who would choose to be a homebody for the weekend to binge content.

Personal Connection > Celebrity Caché

Ninety-two percent of all Millennials surveyed agreed that if they had to pick, they would rather go on a road trip with a loved one than a celebrity musician, athlete, actor or social media star.

What’s Holding Millennials Back from Road Tripping? 

However, nearly 50 percent of millennials would give their current car a failing or barely passing grade for its road trip worthiness. Here are some reported barriers:

  • Lack of Confidence. Seventy-two percent of Millennials say there isat least one reason that has held them back from taking a road trip. Frequently cited reasons were lack of confidence in their own driving abilities (28 percent are not comfortable driving in inclement weather and 19 percent don’t trust their skills at the wheel on unfamiliar terrains), while another 15 percent feel their vehicle is not high-performance enough to handle the adventure.
  • Storage Issues. More than 76 percent of Millennial drivers have experienced difficulties trying to fit what they want to bring along into their car. Millennials wish they had enough room for camping or sporting equipment (63 percent), luggage (46 percent), and even space to take their pets on road trips (22 percent). In fact, 1 in 10 Millennials admit they have missed out on a road trip because they didn’t have enough space for all their gear.
  • Physical and Mental Side Effects. 83 percent of Millennials have experienced a physical or mental side effect from driving for long periods of time. More than two in five put more comfortable interior on their wish-list of features that would make driving more enjoyable.

“The results of this study show that Millennials truly want to disconnect and that they love to hit the road to achieve this – but it also highlights how many are not taking a trip of their dreams because of an inadequate vehicle,” said Dino Bernacchi, chief marketing officer for Mazda North American Operations. “The first-ever Mazda CX-30 may be the ideal crossover to get this group back out there for their next adventure, as it is designed to be agile in the city, while having ample room for passengers and cargo, paired with the utility and performance to go anywhere.”