You have to take this with a grain of salt, because everyone thinks things were better in the old days. But I heard it enough times and saw enough evidence to think it was probably right.
I spent a season working for a tour company in Europe a few years ago, taking passengers on the classic drunken whirlwind tour of the continent's highlights. I met some amazing people on board those buses, but the lament from the old stagers, the crew who'd been doing my job for years, was always the same: they're not as much fun as they used to be.
The passengers, that is. Back in their day, they'd say, tour passengers were pretty easygoing. If something went wrong, if the driver took a wrong turn or an attraction was closed or the French were on strike or the cook – ahem – tried to serve two-day-old baguettes, the paying passengers would laugh it off as part of the experience.
They'd set up their tents and happily head for the squalid shower blocks. They'd pitch in with the cooking and the washing up with beers in hands and smiles on faces. They were adventurous, and they were willing.
But then Generation Y came along. The generation supposedly spoiled by their parents. The generation with a sense of entitlement. The generation with the guts to complain. And they changed travel.
You could see evidence of it on the tours when I was there. Budget travellers weren't as much fun anymore – they'd complain when things went wrong, they'd expect levels of service and cleanliness that they were very unlikely to find, and – most galling for me, the cook – they'd refuse point-blank to help with camping chores like washing up.
"I paid to have a holiday," they'd say. "Not to do the washing up."
Generation Y has certainly changed the travel industry. You can use organised tours as a case in point. Check out how many super-budget camping tours are offered by companies these days compared to cabin-accommodation or hotel trips. Not many. Passengers want an extra level of comfort now, they want to be looked after a little bit better.
They sure knew how to suck the fun out of the touring experience when I was there – instead of a group of people on an adventure together the tour would become a mission of managing expectations and keeping everyone happy.
Gen Y doesn't seem to want to rough it (although, in fairness, the ones who do probably aren't as attracted to organised tours as previous generations were). That's not just on tours though, but travelling in general.
Look at the state of hostels these days. There used to be some horrible, squalid hostels out there but they're a dying breed thanks to the demands of Gen Y.
They have got to have free wifi now. They have got to have crisp, clean sheets and a rooftop deck and cheap drinks and a free breakfast. If they don't, they're going up on someone's ranty blog. Or Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Instagram.
There's a proliferation of hostels aiming at the "flashpacker" market now, but those flashpackers aren't necessarily the older travellers with more disposable income, they're also the young ones with their hard-case luggage who want a cleaner, more pleasant experience.
Gen Ys can exercise their power and influence through sheer numbers. Remember when taking a gap year was a bit daring? Now everyone is doing it, it's no big deal. The travel world is filled with young people taking the break they deserve. They can't be ignored.
Pretty much everyone in the travel game is expected to be more professional. Everything has to be of a higher level. If they're not the Gen Ys will go elsewhere.
You could argue that all of these changes are for the better, that the professional touring outfits and fancy hostels and studious industry workers are making travel more enjoyable. And in a way they do.
But what's been lost in the travel game is a little bit of fun. Those Europe tours back in the day were a riot, where nothing went as planned and everyone pitched in to get things back on track. People weren't after a holiday, they were after an adventure.
But then Generation Y came along.
Do you think Generation Y has changed travel? Are you Gen Y? Do you think you're a different style of traveller to older backpackers?
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