Long-Distance Travel by Young Adults

Long-Distance Travel by Young Adults

Overall, the percentage of long-distance trips1 made by young adults aged 18 to 29 (15.6 percent) was about the same as this age group's share of the U.S. population (16.4 percent). However, when the age group is broken down into two subgroups-ages 18 to 23 and ages 24 to 29-differences appear in travel patterns that may reflect the position of this age group between dependence on one side (going to school and living at home) and independence on the other (with a job and an independent income and place to live) (box 4-B).

For instance, those 18 to 23 years old make a smaller share of all long-distance trips than their share of the population, similar to those 5 to 17 years old2 (figure 4-12). But trip-making increases for the 24 to 29 age group such that it begins to resemble the long-distance travel of the older 30 to 44 age group [1]. As young adults move from school to work, the reasons for long-distance travel change. For people aged 18 to 23 years, 11 percent of their long-distance trips are for commuting and 8 percent for business. For people aged 24 to 29 years, commuting and business shares of long-distance trip-making are 16 percent and 21 percent, respectively, about the same as those aged 30 to 44 years (figure 4-13).

The means of transportation for long-distance travel also varies by age, reflecting to some extent the changing reasons for traveling, widening choices (e.g., vehicle availability), and increasing income. All age groups make about 90 percent of their long-distance trips by personal vehicle, with larger variations occurring for air travel and other means (bus, train, and other) (figure 4-14). Those between 18 and 23 years of age make 92 percent of their long-distance trips by vehicle, 5 percent by air, and 3 percent by other means. The older young adults (ages 24 to 29) make 8 percent of their trips by air, reducing their vehicle usage to 89 percent.


1. U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, National Estimates by Demographic Characteristics: Single Year of Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin, available at http://www.census.gov/, as of March 2005.

1 Long-distance trips are defined as trips, originating from home, of 50 miles or more to the farthest destination and include the return component as well as any overnight stops and stops to change transportation mode.

2 The standard errors of the data on this page are in tables 4-12 through 4-14 in appendix B.