Why Millennials Prefer Experience Gifts Over Material Goods

Marissa Rivera

Published on
Why Millennials Prefer Experience Gifts Over Material Goods

Author Simon Raven once said: "Since life is short and the world is wide, the sooner you start exploring it, the better." Indeed, the younger generation has taken a firm hold of that notion. Instead of spending their income on possessions that would have been considered necessities by generations prior, Millennials and the up-and-coming Gen Z are turning their dollars into life experience. When it comes to gift giving, the trend continues as experience gifts are revered and often preferred.

This generation may hold on tight to a few key devices, but they are less likely to use expendable income on an extravagant piece of jewelry or on high-priced household appliances than those who came before them. In fact, according to Forbes, they are even purchasing fewer vehicles, opting instead to rely on public transportation, bicycles, and ride-sharing services. Money that used to go to such things is now more commonly being spent by young adults on activities like festivals, concerts, trips, or other memory-making events. If you are looking to purchase a present, leave the material items in the store and check out ideas such as gifts that allow the giftee the opportunity to see just how wide the world really is. Here are a few reasons experience gifts are winning out.

Sri Lanka Ella Train

Photo by @jordhammond

Since life is short and the world is wide, the sooner you start exploring it, the better.

Simon Raven


Do you remember when you were a child and you had an upcoming holiday? Perhaps there was going to be a lot of special food and desserts or maybe you were going to have family and friends getting together in one spot. There may even have been the prospect of gifts coming your way. When you think back to that time, do you remember how excited you were in the days or weeks leading up to it as you prepared for the festivities? The anticipation of an upcoming event can alter your mood when it pops into your mind, creating a sense of excitement that permeates your daily life during that time and past it. That feeling can last a lifetime. Chances are, when you think back to that holiday now, you can still feel the butterflies of excitement as easily as you remember the event itself. This sense of anticipation adds to the value of experiences. Imagine how someone will feel when you gift air travel. Not only will they be able to enjoy the trip itself, but all the time leading up to their trip will be part of the joy you add to their life.

With a gift like skyhours, the anticipation begins the moment the gift is received. As people consider all the travel opportunities that are available to them, they can imagine themselves in varying locations and enjoying activities specific to that destination. It allows them to open up to new potential experiences they may not have otherwise had. The countdown, choosing the right gear, seeing a break from routine on the horizon, and even pulling out the suitcase can all add to the excitement of an upcoming adventure.

Get your passport ready - Travis Wild

Photo by @travywild 

Keeping Up, Burning Out

When the focus is put onto material possessions, it is easy to begin increasing their value in our minds. Once something is deemed valuable, the pursuit of more often comes next. As the shininess wears off the original item, it suddenly makes sense replacing, updating, or adding on to seek that happiness we first felt upon receipt. As material items take center stage, it is easy to get in the mindset of "keeping up with the Joneses."

Unfortunately, trying to remain relevant in the realm of personal possessions can be utterly exhausting, not to mention expensive. Over the last few decades, Americans have increased their personal debt on credit cards, with the numbers steadily increasing since 2014. In fact, a Bankrate survey showed that more than 30% of those between 30 and 49 years of age had more commercial debt than they had in their savings.

So now, even though the huge TV on the wall may be the object of friends' envy and that fancy car in the driveway might be the hottest one on the block, the price tag comes along with financial strain and the knowledge that it is just going to be a matter of time before the next person "wins" with the newest purchase and sets the cycle in motion again.

Engaging in an experience, however, removes both the financial pressure and the emotional and mental strain felt by constantly procuring the next possession. There is less comparison between a description of memories and experiences than, say, whose electronic toys have the most up-to-date options or whose earrings have the most carats. Removing this comparison from relationships can help to decrease the social pressures that come along with it.

People have also been shown to be more supportive and happier when they listen to a recounting of an experience or description of an upcoming trip than to hear about another person's possessions. This can lead to better social connections and more engaging interactions, leading to happier and healthier relationships.

Taiwan Fair with toys

Photo by @jordhammond


The average home in America contains more than 300,000 items, with more entering every day. What's even crazier is that the average family has gotten considerably smaller in the last five decades and yet the size of a single-family home has increased substantially. What’s the number one reason given for up-sizing to a larger home? The need for more space. In other words, we have a lot of stuff.

In an era when just about everyone has heard of either "Hoarders" or Marie Kondo, the downfalls of clutter have become a hot topic. Being surrounded by an overload of things means more time is spent cleaning and tidying up and can lead to decreased mental and physical health. A study conducted at UCLA showed that being around an abundance of items in a household actually raises levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the human body. Clutter results in lower productivity, higher stress levels, and more negative overall moods. On the other hand, when living spaces contain fewer items, it results in more positive moods and interactions, as well as increased physical and emotional health.

Millennials in particular have been showing an increasing trend toward having less clutter in their lives. With fewer items to house, it is possible to reside in smaller living spaces and even share those spaces with others to help downsize the bills. Whereas past generations would stay in homes for decades at a time, the average homeowner now stays put for fewer than 10 years. Having fewer items makes it easier to move for a better job, to explore new opportunities, or to simply shake things up a bit.

When purchasing a gift for a loved one, consider an option that will be a positive in their life for a long time to come and won't eventually be relegated to the knickknack shelf as something to dust each weekend. Not only is cleaning easier with minimal items set upon surfaces, but money that may have been used on maintenance or repairs can instead be put towards living, rather than owning.


Many of today’s youth have grown up with more mobility than generations past could ever imagine. With so much work that can be done remotely and by digital means, this has allowed a whole new crop of workers who can take their jobs on the road with them. It used to be that little escapes were limited to weekends and jaunts to other countries were relegated only to allotted vacation time. However, since many employees can work from most anywhere nowadays, they are free to jet off to a new city where Wi-Fi is as readily available as at home.

Camper van in CostaRica travel

Photo by @andynlilly

Sending someone on an adventure is a perfect way to show your appreciation for them. If you are looking for the perfect experience gift idea, get a feel for how the people for whom you are shopping like to spend their time. If you are not sure you can pinpoint a specific activity, opt for something like skyhours, which allows them to seek out the perfect concert, event, or adventure trek in whatever part of the map best suits them. The whole world opens up once you move the search outside of a store.

Give someone a flight or part of a flight to unlimited destinations on our website or app. You can give the gift of one skyhour, which is equivalent to one hour of flight time, or as many hours as you would like. Contribute to someone's travel balance and let them choose and book flights on over 300 airlines. Learn how you can offer the experience gift of flight and share the world with someone today.

Marissa Rivera
New York City, United States
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