Baby Boomers & Travel
We Baby Boomers – the generation born between 1946 and 1964 – have always been trendsetters and a tad rebellious! We were the first generation to backpack around Europe in large numbers, beginning in the late 1960s – guided by books such as Europe on $5 a Day and Lonely Planet (which began in 1973).
We Boomers (now in our 50s and 60s) are traveling again in a big way! Many Boomers are nearing (or in) retirement and the demands of raising children have also lessened. For many, it’s now all about the grandkids! There are nearly 80 million Baby Boomers, a quarter of the U.S. population. That means Traveling Boomers are once again transforming the global travel industry with our sheer numbers and strong preferences on how we like to travel.
“60 is the New 40”
We Boomers are definitely approaching aging with a whole new “let’s reinvent this next phase of our life” attitude. We still feel “young” and definitely do not see ourselves as “old!” In fact, even though some of us may qualify for senior discounts (like at the movies), do NOT call us “seniors.” That’s a term for “old people” and that’s not us!
Yes, “60 really is the new 40!” As the first group of Boomers starts to turn 70 in 2016, we’ll no doubt be hearing “70 is the new 50!” I recently learned about the word ZOOMER – a clever term for a Baby Boomer with Zip! (this term was defined by Moses Znaimer, Canadian founder of ZoomerMedia Limited).
The Clock is Ticking
We Boomers may still be young (at least in our hearts and minds), but we are acutely aware that our body’s biological clock is ticking. We may – or may not – have decades of healthy international travel ahead of us. And there are still so many destinations on our “Travel Dream List” not yet visited.
Many of us fortunate Boomers have been traveling for years while others are only now getting the right combination of time, money and freedom to get out and see this amazing world. Regardless, there is no time like the present to pack those bags and start traveling!
Baby Boomer Travel Preferences & Styles
Baby Boomers, in large part, are dedicated travelers. In fact, a study by Clark Norton, an expert in baby boomer travel, showed that nearly three-fourths of Boomers he surveyed felt that travel is “a necessity as part of a well-rounded life.” I wholeheartedly agree! In fact, today’s Boomers have strong preferences on how they like to travel.
The following Trends of Boomer Travel Desires are ones I particularly resonate with (and perhaps you too!):
- Experiential Travel
Boomers have a strong desire for “experiential” travel. We don’t want to do quick “drive by” travel just to check off another country or city on the list to impress our Facebook friends. Instead, we really want to immerse ourselves and soak up all that a destination has to offer.
- Unique Experiences
As we Boomers travel, we’re looking for exotic and unique experiences that are different from those in our daily lives. We love to explore new cultures, try new foods, meet the local people, and do things we’ve never done before. Travel is a chance to stretch and get a little bit out of our comfort zone (with the right support, of course!)
- Bucket List Travel
Not surprisingly, in 2015, AARP reported that among travelers aged 50+ traveling internationally, one of the most popular travel categories is what’s commonly become known as the Bucket List. Personally, I like to call this my Travel Wish List or Travel Dream List – sounds much nicer than a rusty ol’ bucket!
- Learning & Feeding Our Passions
Boomers are also life-long learners. We have a constant desire for self-improvement, learning new skills and expanding our knowledge. As a result, educational and culturally-focused tours have become very popular with Boomers. We enjoy combining our passions with wish-list destinations, such taking a cooking class in Italy, attending Spanish language school in Guatemala, or birding in Uganda.
- Adventure Travel
Adventure travel certainly has many meanings. Many of us “young in spirit” Boomers exercise and remain in good shape. As a result, we are able to enjoy physically active outdoor adventures – such as hiking, cycling, kayaking, skiing, and scuba diving. However, we (certainly me!) usually leave the more daring and extreme sports – like bungee jumping – to the younger set.
- Adventure travel doesn’t just mean physically active trips. It is also traveling with a “spirit of adventure” – such as to the more exotic locales around the world, getting off the beaten path and exploring new cultures.
To My Fellow Boomers: Here’s to collecting many more stamps in your passport & experiencing grand adventures on your own “dream list” travels around the world!
Thanks to the following Baby Boomer travel resources used for this page:
- Clark Norton – Expert in Baby Boomer Travel
For his various blog posts and his excellent “How To Ride the Coming Wave of Boomers” report (geared for the travel industry), which is downloadable from his website.
- Hot New Baby Boomer Travel Trends and Tours (March 2016) – by Clark Norton & Samantha Scott
- The Hottest Trends in Boomer Travel (Forbes, August 2013) – by Suzanne Gerber for Next Avenue