Baby boomers, normally identified as those born between 1945 and 1964, hold more than 90 percent of the U.S. net worth and account for 78 percent of all financial assets according to NABBW (National Association of Baby Boomer Women).
What does all this have to do with travel? A lot. According to a 2017 AARP travel trend study, the percentage of boomers saying they travel to relax and rejuvenate jumped from 38 percent to 49 percent, and they expect to take an average of four or five leisure trips each year.
These boomers are primarily empty nesters and have the desire, time and resources to travel. During his presentation at the 2019 New York Times Travel Show, Steve Cohen, SVP Travel Insights at MMGYGlobal, said that “By generation, boomers are still spending the most money on travel.”
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So, where are these Boomers going? What are they doing? And what are the exciting travel trends we’re currently seeing and can expect to see in the upcoming year?
Legacy of Travel
According to Kristy Mosolino, owner of Wishes Travel in Birmingham, Alabama, “So many more of my clients are choosing to give their families the legacy of travel instead of a financial legacy. They and their families agree that memories of togetherness are worth more than an inheritance.”
As a result, Kristy says that her agency has seen a tremendous increase in baby boomers wanting to take the entire family on a cruise, a vacation to Walt Disney or a trip to Italy. They have no problems with the cost as they see it as a worthwhile investment.
This travel trend has been around for a while but still continues to be popular for many reasons. Multi-generational trips are unique because they capture a special moment in time, creating treasured memories to last a lifetime.
Our family will forever remember our four-generational trip to Disney’s Aulani Resort on the island of Oahu. We all live in different parts of the U.S., so the chance to all be together for a week of laughter, fun and sharing was immeasurable. From ages eight to eighty, everyone in our family of nine had a fantastic time and great-grandma had the chance to get to know her great-grandchildren much better.
With the growing popularity and expertise of DNA testing, more and more people are into genealogy and wanting to know more about their ancestors and the places they came from. In a New York Times article, Dallen J. Timothy, an Arizona State University professor and editor of Heritage Tourism, wrote: “Ancestral travel is a way of connecting oneself with their progenitors and finding one’s rootedness in a confusing and fast-paced world.”
Visiting ancestral homelands provides a deeper, more lasting travel experience because of the emotional investment these travelers have with the destination, its people and culture.
European River Cruising
Cruises, in general, have long been a popular vacation option as they provide a snapshot of a region and the opportunity to see more destinations in one vacation—whether it’s the Hawaiian Islands, the Caribbean or the Mediterranean.
A newly emerging trend is the dramatic rise in European River cruising. The slower travel and the immersive cultural side experiences have broad appeal not only to the baby boomers, but now to their families as well.
There’s something special about getaways with our gal pals, whether it’s for a day trip, weekend escape or a longer vacation. Girls’ Getaways have been trending upward for a while and for good reason.
Boomer women these days feel more empowered and know what they want and what they don’t. They’re experienced, confident and believe that traveling with other like-minded women provides healthy connections and shared experiences.
Soft Adventure Travel
Adventure activities that always seemed to focus on teens and adults in their prime are now shifting their focus to a more mature and ever-growing clientele. A classic example is our half-day Adventure Ocean Sea Cave Kayak Tour my husband and I took to California’s magnificent Channel Islands National Park. The guided tour was led by Channel Islands Adventure Company and half of our group fell into the baby boomer category and were seriously into the experience.
When I mentioned this to our guide, he confirmed that more and more they’re seeing mature adults booking these and other adventure trips like hiking, diving and white-water rafting. When you think about it, it’s no surprise as a growing number of Americans are into healthier living and we’re living longer.
Exotic Travel Destinations
Exotic destinations are getting a lot of buzz in the travel world these days. Many boomers want to venture beyond tried-and-true destinations and focus on those that are smaller, less touristy, more authentic or unusual.
While a Safari trip or the Galapagos Islands used to be among the most exotic type trips for this age of traveler, Karen Hughes of San Diego AAA Travel says that boomers are now looking to less-common destinations like Madagascar, Montenegro, The Cook Islands and Malta. Today, even travelers to India and China are seeking out more unique off-the-beaten-path regions rarely featured by travel agencies in the past.
Some call it slow travel, but the latest boomer trend seems to be shifting to travelers wanting a more in-depth cultural immersion when visiting a region.
Kristy Mosolino from Wishes Travel says that she and her team of agents have seen an increase in booking private tours by locals and experiences that give travelers a more hands-on, true blue picture about local history, foods, beliefs and culture. They no longer want to see what every other tourist coming to Mexico or Costa Rica, for example, is seeing, they want something much more personal and unforgettable that they’ll talk about for years to come.
Susan Sontag once said, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” And it seems the more we see of this big beautiful world, the more we want to see.