Young Travellers Say They’ll Live Now, Make Money Later
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Young Travellers Say They’ll Live Now, Make Money Later

Gen Z vacationers say they are making rigorous budgets behind the scenes to keep track of costs.

By Ayse Kelce
Thu, Aug 25, 2022 9:32amGrey Clock 3 min

Cameon Wade felt like the pandemic had robbed her of her early 20s.

So, after getting into a film program at Prague Film Institute, she travelled by herself across Europe this summer. Originally, she was planning to only travel for the program, but ended up going to seven cities in five countries in the course of three weeks to make up for the lack of travelling during the pandemic.

“The whole pandemic, I felt like the years were taken away from what was supposed to be the best years of my life and college,” she said.

Young people have always taken trips during college years, gap years or after college. This year, however, the winding down of Covid-19 travel restrictions in many countries gave many the freedom they didn’t have in the past few years.

Many of these students or recent graduates are now taking more elaborate and in some cases more expensive vacations than they expected to take at this age, say some young graduates. Overall, 72% of Gen Zers between the ages 18 and 25 surveyed in April were likely to take a summer vacation, more than any other age group, a recent Bankrate survey found.

Even so, those taking larger vacations recognize it isn’t an easy decision. In the U.S., young people between the ages of 18 to 34 had the lowest median weekly checking-account balances when compared with older age groups for the past two years, according to a recent study by JPMorgan Chase Institute.

To make up for the extra costs, these young vacationers say they are making rigorous budgets and doing financial planning behind the scenes to keep costs from skyrocketing.

Many say they believe the vacations themselves will deliver justifiable returns down the road. On TikTok, thousands of young people have posted videos of their travels with the phrase “I will make my money back.” Most videos show beautiful landscapes or dinners, but also an awareness in the captions of the financial sacrifice that comes with travelling.

“You want to frame it in such a way that, yes, this is a financial sacrifice,” said Scott Rick, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Michigan, who studies emotional causes and consequences of consumer financial decision-making. “But this is a calculated decision on my part.”

Ms. Wade posted her TikTok video in June with the caption “I’ll make my money back, but I’ll never be 20 scootering around Paris at night again.” More than three million viewers saw the clip.

After getting accepted to the film program, Ms. Wade started doing research about how much she needed to make the trip happen. “Once I realized it was possible, it was a no-brainer,” she said.

She said she paid for all of her expenses herself, using her income from her four poetry books and a part-time job to fund the trip. She also took advantage of student discounts at museums, stayed in cheaper hostels, opted for the cheapest meal options and relied on public transportation to stay on budget.

The idea behind these vacations is that an experience will have a longer lasting social benefit. Cassie Holmes, a professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, said several studies back up the thinking that experiences lead to greater initial happiness and provide greater lasting happiness than material possessions.

As people get older, they start to realize that engaging in experiences will bring them greater happiness, she says. In many ways, the pandemic simply got younger people to realize this benefit earlier.

“Vacations are the experiences that not only sort of generate initial happiness, but they continue to make you feel happier as you revisit them,” Ms. Holmes said.

Isabelle Lieblein, 22, was supposed to study abroad in Germany in 2020, but the pandemic disrupted her plans.

“Before Covid, I said no to trips to save up to go to Germany, and then it didn’t happen. It really changed my outlook,” she said.

Ms. Lieblein kept working throughout the lockdown to build up her savings and spent a semester studying abroad in Germany after the travel restrictions were lifted. She travelled to 19 countries during her study abroad period and paid for the entire trip with her savings.

Throughout her backpacking adventures in Europe, Ms. Lieblein was interviewing for jobs with plans to start after her graduation from Kettering University in Flint, Mich., and her trip. Ms. Lieblein started a full-time job as a quality engineer in February. On TikTok, she shared a video encouraging other young people to invest in experiences such as travel after she ended up making the money she spent back.

Having this experience, she said, is worth the coming financial challenges.

“I wanted to take advantage of it even if that means that I’m eating ramen until I get my first paycheck when I get back, that’s worth it to me,” she said.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: August 19, 2022.



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Cocoa and Coffee Prices Have Surged. Climate Change Will Only Take Them Higher.

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Global prices for cocoa and coffee are surging as severe weather events hamper production in key regions, raising questions from farm to table over the long-term damage climate change could have on soft commodities.

Cultivating cocoa and coffee requires very specific temperature, water and soil conditions. Now, more frequent heat waves, heavy rainfalls and droughts are damaging harvests and crippling supplies amid ever growing demand from customers worldwide.

“Adverse weather conditions, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, have played an important role in sending several food commodities sharply higher,” said Ole Hansen , head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.

The spikes in prices are a threat to coffee and chocolate makers across the globe.

Swiss consumer-goods giant Nestlé was able to pass only a fraction of the cocoa price increase to customers last year, and it may need to adjust pricing in the future due to persistently high prices, a spokesperson said.

Italian coffee maker Lavazza reported revenue of more than $3 billion for last year, but said profitability was hit by soaring coffee bean prices, particularly for green and Robusta coffee, and its decision to limit price increases.

Likewise, chocolatier Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Spruengli said in its 2023 results that weather and climate conditions played a major role in the global shortage of cocoa beans that led to historically high prices. The company had to lift the sales prices of its products and said it would need to further raise them this year and next if cocoa prices remain at current levels.

Hershey ’s chief executive, Michele Buck , said in February that historic cocoa prices are expected to limit earnings growth this year, and that the company plans to use “every tool in its toolbox,” including price hikes, to manage the impact on business.

In West Africa, where about 70% of global cocoa is produced, powerhouses Ivory Coast and Ghana are facing catastrophic harvests this season as El Niño—the pattern of above-average sea surface temperatures—led to unseasonal heavy rainfalls followed by strong heat waves.

Extreme heat has weakened cocoa trees already damaged from heavy rainfall at the end of last year, according to Morningstar DBRS’s Aarti Magan and Moritz Steinbauer. The rain also worsened road conditions, disrupting cocoa bean deliveries to export ports.

The International Cocoa Organization—a global body composed of cocoa producing and consuming member countries—said in its latest monthly report that it expects the global supply deficit to widen to 374,000 metric tons in the 2023-24 season, from 74,000 tons last season. Global cocoa supply is anticipated to decline by almost 11% to 4.449 million tons when compared with 2022-23.

“Significant declines in production are expected from the top producing countries as they are envisaged to feel the detrimental effect of unfavorable weather conditions and diseases,” the organization said.

While the effects of climate change are severe, other serious structural issues are also hitting West African cocoa production in the short- to medium-term. Illegal mining poses a significant threat to cocoa farms in Ghana, destroying arable land and poisoning water supplies, and the problem is becoming increasingly relevant in the Ivory Coast, according to BMI.

The issues are being magnified by deforestation carried out to increase cocoa production. Since 1950, Ivory Coast has lost around 90% of its forests, while Ghana has lost around 65% over the same period. This has driven farmers to areas less suited to cocoa cultivation like grasslands, increasing the amount of labor required and bringing further downside risks to the harvest, the research firm said.

The Ivory Coast’s cocoa mid-crop harvest—which officially starts in April and runs until September—is expected to fall to 400,000-500,000 tons from 600,000-620,000 tons last year, with weather expected to play a crucial role in shaping the market balance for the season, ING analysts said, citing estimates from the country’s cocoa regulator. Ghana’s cocoa board also forecasts a slump in the harvest for this season to as low as 422,500 tons, the poorest in more than 20 years, according to BMI.

Neither regulator responded to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, extreme droughts in Southeast Asia—particularly in Vietnam and Indonesia—are resulting in lower coffee bean harvests, hurting producers’ output and global exports. Coffee inventories have recovered somewhat in recent weeks but remain low in recent historical terms. Robusta coffee has seen a severe deterioration in export expectations, while Arabica coffee is expected to return to a relatively narrow surplus this year, said Charles Hart, senior commodities analyst at BMI.

The global coffee benchmark prices, London Robusta futures, are up by 15% on-month to $3,825 a ton. Arabica coffee prices have also surged 17% over the last month to $2.16 a pound in lockstep with Robusta—its highest level since October 2022. Cocoa prices have more than tripled on-year over these supply crunch fears, and risen 49% in the last month alone to $10,050 a ton.

“Cocoa trees are particularly sensitive to weather and require very specific conditions to grow, this means that cocoa prices are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events, such as drought and periods of intense heat, as well as the longer-term impact of climate change,” said Lucrezia Cogliati, associate commodities analyst at BMI.

Cogliati said global cocoa consumption is expected to outpace production for the third consecutive season, with intense seasonal West African winds and plant diseases contributing to significant declines.

Consumers hoping for a return to cheaper prices for life’s little luxuries in the midterm may also be in for a bitter surprise.

“There is no sugarcoating it—consumers will ultimately be faced with higher chocolate prices, products that contain less chocolate, and/or shrinking product sizes,” Morningstar’s Magan and Steinbauer said in a report.

“We anticipate consumers could respond by searching widely for promotional discounts, trading down to value-based chocolate and confectionary products from premium products, switching to private-label from branded products and/or reducing volumes altogether.”

The record-breaking rally for cocoa and coffee is likely more than just a flash in the pan, according to Citi analysts, as adverse weather conditions and strong demand trends are likely to support prices in the months ahead. The U.S. bank estimates Arabica coffee futures in a range of $1.88-$2.15 a pound for the current year, but said projections could be lifted if the outlook for 2024-25 tightens further.

At the heart of it all, climate change is set to play a major role, as the impact of extreme weather events could exacerbate the pressure on cocoa and coffee supplies, according to market watchers.

“I don’t expect prices to remain at these levels, but if we continue to see more unusual weather as a result of global warming then we certainly could see more volatility in terms of cocoa yields going forward, which could impact pricing,” said Paul Joules, commodities analyst at Rabobank.

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