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Baby Boomers Just Want to Travel (and Have Fun) - Part I

Posted by Sidney Pease

Baby Boomers Just Want to Travel (and Have Fun) - Part I

Since I just celebrated a momentous birthday milestone this past weekend with a surprise weekend getaway, I got to thinking about what has changed for me over the past couple of decades in regards to travel. And honestly I must say not much has really changed as far as what I like. I still enjoy going to new places - interacting with the local people - enjoying a high level of personalized service - and having FUN! The difference is we can actually afford to splurge a little now (on occasion) and make these realistic priorities.

From exotic luxury resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean to road trips in the good ole US of A, my husband and I look for travel that is foremost relaxing with the options of a little soft adventure, interesting things to see - and fun, combined with a healthy dose of luxury. Like many Baby Boomers, we’ve moved way beyond roughing it and "settling". We’ve worked hard all of our adult lives, have two grown, married sons who are happily "on their own" and we feel like now it’s our time to indulge ourselves in a little self-gratifying pampering. And from what I have read and others I’ve talked to, I would say we are a pretty typical example of Baby Boomer travelers.

Some interesting "Boomer" facts:

Starting Jan. 1, 2011, the first Baby Boomers turned 65 years old, the traditional age of retirement (but you won’t find many actually retiring these days!). The generation, defined here as people born from 1946 to 1964, represents 77 million people in the United States. For the next 19 years, about 11,000 Boomers a day will turn 65. In fact, approximately 28% of the population of the United States is made up of Baby Boomers. They are in their peak earning years, and the oldest of them have reached the prime age for travel.

There is no doubt Baby Boomers want adventure (at least they think they do), and they want fun while traveling. But for many, they don’t want too much adventure or too much fun. They want just the right amount of each. They like the idea of traveling to "far off and exotic lands," but they like their "far off and exotic" to be softly cushioned with a feather bed and a chocolate mint on the pillow. Many Boomers feel that if they could reduce stress, it would improve their quality of life. So spending their time dining in the hotel’s 5 star restaurants, sunning at the pool, getting a massage in the hotel’s spa or golfing on an exotic tropical course rank high on the list. Exotic is good, but only to a point - bottom line is that this group really wants a stress-free experience at the same time they’re trying out new places and new activities.

Based on a recent survey I saw, over a third of the Boomers in the survey took international trips. About 68 percent have valid passports, according to the survey, compared to about 30 percent of Americans overall. The top destinations were the Caribbean (33 percent) and Europe (28 percent), followed by Mexico (19 percent) and Canada (18 percent). The study called the Boomer group the "healthiest, wealthiest and most active senior generation ever". Boomers took an average of 3.6 trips in 2010. Nearly one-third took their grandchildren on a trip. More than half traveled to visit family or friends, while 38 percent reported taking a family vacation. Another 35 percent took a nature-inspired trip and 18 percent spent time in casinos. Understanding these travel trends will help hotel and travel companies cater to this generation as they plan "Bucket List" trips and celebrations that involve travel. In fact, the celebration of a major event accounted for 66 percent of trips taken during the 12 months surveyed. Clearly, the #1 thing Boomers want to do for their birthday is travel. Me included!

So maybe we "Boomers" are a little higher maintenance than the younger generation, but keep in mind that there are lots of us. Plus, travel is many times at the top of the list of where we want to spend our time and money, and, generally speaking, we actually have money to spend on leisure travel despite the global recession. For many, we want to travel, we’re ready to travel, and we want to have some fun while expanding our horizons and indulging our passions! 

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