Life

This is the No. 1 dream destination for American travelers — and it's not Hawaii or Italy

Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.
Philippe Heuze | Twenty20

More than one in four Americans are skipping a summer vacation this year because they can't afford it, while many others find it difficult to take time off. But if there were no travel constraints like time off or cost, American travelers know exactly where they'd like to go: The No. 1 dream destination they'd like to visit is Australia.

That's according to Vrbo's first U.S. Traveler Survey, which asked 1,067 adult American travelers their preferences and reasons for travel.

For the survey, 13% of all respondents chose Australia as their top dream destination. Broken down by age group, 5% of millennials (ages 18 to 34) surveyed chose Australia, as did 15% of Generation X (ages 35 to 54) and 19% of Baby Boomers (ages 55 and over).

While Australia was the top dream destination, home and vacation rental company Vrbo points out it was the 18th most visited destination by American travelers in 2018.

"The disparity between dream and reality signals that barriers of time and money are the deciding factors for whether Americans will take a dream vacation," according to Vrbo. The company says this statement holds true for every age group except millennials, who are the group most likely to go into debt for travel (37%) compared to Gen X-ers (27%) and baby boomers (15%).

In 2018, the United States was Australia's third largest market for visitors, and the second largest market for total visitor spend, according to Tourism Australia. The top five states American visitors are traveling from are California, Texas, New York, Florida, Washington and Illinois.

The top Australian city visited is Sydney, according to Tourism Australia. Sydney is known for its beaches, cosmopolitan city center and the Sydney Opera House on the harbor. The metro ranked 24th in TripAdvisor's Top 25 Destinations in the World.

For other popular spots, Melbourne, Australia ranked the second most liveable city in the world, according to the Global Liveability Index and is considered a top cultural destination in the country. In particular, Melbourne is known for its street art, galleries and museums, as well as for its food scene.

Northern Rivers in New South Wales, Australia ranked No. 29 in The New York Times' annual "52 Places to Go" list for 2019, with accolades for its "lush coastline" and "breezy boho way of life." Northern Rivers is home to popular surf and beach town Byron Bay.

Perth, Australia, ranked No. 26 on National Geographic's Best Trips 2019 list. Thanks to its remote location, the list called Perth "a best-kept secret" with "otherworldly red rock formations and stunning coastal cliffs."

As for Vrbo's survey, Italy was the second most-selected dream destination with 11% of the votes.

The survey also found that internet and WiFi is the most important amenity for American travelers of all ages when considering lodging, beating out TV and air-conditioning.

Almost half of millennials (45%) said they will travel purely for exploration in 2019, while Gen X-ers (20%) will travel for a special occasion this year.

Vrbo's survey was conducted among U.S. adults who have traveled for leisure in 2018 and plan on traveling for leisure in 2019.

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Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.
Philippe Heuze | Twenty20
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