“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands,” said Sir Richard Burton.
No surprise. Baby boomers have the numbers, the influence, and the money to travel.
Our generation spreads over many years with “leading boomers” (born between 1946 and 1957) and “shadow boomers (like me, born between 1946 and 1957). As a result, we look at things differently sometimes. However, we have some things in common when it comes to traveling.
What are some of those baby boomer trends?
Baby Boomers Want Unique and Adventurous Vacations
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world,” Mary Anne Radmacher wrote.
I’m passionate about traveling. To me, it is pure joy to experience another world outside my own, enjoy new experiences, explore a different culture, discover new foods, and meet different people. My family and I were always looking for new adventures.
And we found them – including white water rafting down a wild five-plus river in New Zealand, sprinting down a beach in Mexico to soar into the sky on a parasail, climbing the Great Wall, swimming with dolphins, and riding a boat underneath a roaring waterfall in Brazil. I’m a bit more cautious these days, but I still like a good adventure.
True to our roots, we baby boomers tend to rebel against overly structured vacations and want some freedom to explore on our own. We aren’t like the previous generation who waited until retirement to travel. While Europe and tropical locations are still popular with baby boomers, many of us have already visited these places and are looking for more exotic and unconventional destinations. In other words, we’re looking to cross some items off our bucket lists.
The old-fashioned travel group vacations some of our parents seemed to love with labels like “Senior Travel” and crowded tour buses full of grey-haired people visiting popular touristy spots – not so much.
Of course, we think of ourselves as forever young and are always up for a challenge. After all, aren’t we the generation of the fitness craze who took up jogging, were inspired by Jack LaLanne, and sculpted our bodies with Jane Fonda videos? Many boomers still try to stay in shape. As a result, active adventure travel including kayaking, cycling, trekking through the wilderness, diving with the best scuba fins, paddle boarding, and skiing is especially popular with the 50-plus crowd. Spearguns go for younger ones. The travel industry has taken note and are adding more categories every year targeted at the more daring baby boomers.
Baby Boomers Love to Travel with Family
Now, I love going places with my grandchildren. Perhaps that’s because as we age, we appreciate our personal relationships with family and cherish the time with them even more.
Once again, I’m in good company with other baby boomers. According to a recent survey conducted by AAA Travel, an increasing number of travelers choose to book trips with extended family members.
“It is proven psychologically that we make stronger family bonds when we travel than any other time of the year when we are home,” says AARP Travel Ambassador Samantha Brown. “It really is an investment in your life.”
The survey showed multi-generational family vacations were becoming more popular. In fact, 36 percent of families interviewed planned to take a multi-generational family trip the following year. One in five grandparents reported going on a Disney vacation with their grandchildren.
Of course, Disneyland isn’t the only place we’re traveling with our families. As mentioned before, we love adventure and are interested in taking our grandchildren on safaris in Africa, snorkeling with a full face snorkel mask and zip lining expeditions in Costa Rica, or scenic and adventurous Alaskan cruises.
Baby Boomers like a Bit of Luxury
Okay, okay, maybe the days of sleeping in tents, on shaky cots, and hostels are over. We may be an adventurous bunch, but we hesitantly have to admit we are getting just a little bit older and need some creature comforts.
After all, many baby boomers are retired or at a period in our lives when we can take more time off after climbing the corporate ladder and have more income – which puts us in a position to demand better accommodations.
Plus, we’re not too proud to take advantage of perks and reduced senior rates to get those more luxurious hotels. For example, Marriott slashes rates by 15 percent or more for seniors 62 and older staying at any of their 4,000-plus properties across the globe. Why not?
After exploring the wilderness, give us soothing massages, good wine and food, a comfortable bed, and some rest and relaxation.
Baby Boomers are More Relaxed Travelers
Boomers enjoy the whole travel experience for the most part. Of course, we’re not fond of the increased difficulty of clearing security, flight delays, and the lack of legroom on planes. However, we are more likely to go with the flow.
Younger generations report higher levels of travel stress and nervous feelings compared to baby boomers. According to the research by AARP, millennials are the most stressed generation while flying and baby boomers are the most relaxed.
We keep ourselves connected and busy, which may help. A whopping 90% of boomers travel with some type of electronic device, primarily a smartphone and 56% of boomers use airport Wi-Fi, if it’s free.
Baby boomers also take advantage of airport amenities. We arrive, at least, two hours before our flight compared to our millennial counterparts, who typically arrive with just enough time to board their flight. That may, in part, explain why we’re less stressed. Boomers are not dashing frantically across the airport to catch our plane. Instead, we can often be found enjoying a meal or a glass of wine while waiting for our flights. Nearly 49% of boomers bought food and drinks and 28% sat down and ate at a restaurant before their flight.
Baby Boomers are Traveling Close to Home
In fact, more than 75% of the baby boomers surveyed by AARP say they took their last flight to a domestic destination.
My husband and I certainly fit into those statistics. The last trips we took were to Chicago, San Francisco, Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, and the Florida Keys. There’s plenty of adventure to be had in our own countries – and I must admit those long 18 hour flights are getting harder.
Maybe that’s why baby boomers like summer vacations in our home countries and weekend getaways so much.
Of course, while I enjoy seeing the sights close to my home, I have to admit, Africa is still calling my name with its dramatic landscapes, glorious wildlife, and exotic cultures. It’s the only continent I haven’t seen yet (except for Antarctica – which is waaaay too cold for me).
As a famous quotes states: “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”
Images (in order of their appearance) courtesy of Graphics Mouse, Hal Brindley, photostock, stockimages, artur84, and porbital at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.