Traveling Boomers and Seniors

Traveling Boomers and Seniors

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Many baby boomers are hoping to do more traveling as they enter their retirement years. After decades of cramming travel into long weekends and limited vacation time, new retirees often have a pent-up desire to visit new places. Here’s how baby boomers plan to travel in retirement:

A travel bucket list

Many baby boomers (38 percent) say they have created a travel bucket list that they hope to embark upon within the next several years, according to an AARP survey of 889 baby boomers. Boomers have an average of eight places they hope to visit. “A lot of people are celebrating going into retirement,” says Keith Deane, a certified financial planner for Deane Retirement Strategies in New Orleans, Louisiana. “They like to go all out taking a big vacation or a long trip or a cruise.”

Domestic travel

Boomers are slightly more likely to prefer domestic travel (53 percent) to international destinations (47 percent), AARP found. “There is no language barrier and there is no passport needed,” says Patty David a senior research advisor at AARP, “There is no money changes element, and it’s just a little bit easier.” When daydreaming about travel within the U.S., boomers have a preference for the farthest-flung states of Hawaii and Alaska.

A third of boomers say world events and security concerns make them reluctant to travel. “In the past, retirees have been taking big international trips,” Deane says. “But with the international climate the way it is, more people have been staying in the U.S. to travel.” The most desirable international destinations among boomers in the AARP survey are Australia and Italy.

Traveling as a couple

Most boomers prefer to travel with a spouse or significant other (65 percent), AARP found. Far fewer boomers are planning for solo travel (18 percent), trips with children or grandchildren (20 percent) or friend getaways (9 percent). Some single boomers (13 percent) say they might avoid travel because they have no one to go with. “We see seniors and retirees exploring on their own and also spending vacations with family and friends,” says Josh Belkin, vice president and general manager for North America. “Interest in travel cuts across all ages, and the passion to see the world is something most everyone shares.”

Spring and summer trips

Most baby boomers prefer to travel during the spring or summer, but the fall is only slightly less popular. “Those seasons are when the weather is the nicest,” David says. “You don’t have the hassle of packing your winter boots or your big heavy coats or your gloves.” Many people would like to avoid winter or crowded holiday travel in retirement, AARP found.

Urban destinations

Just over half of baby boomers say they would like to visit specific cities or towns (52 percent), according to the AARP survey. “They want that small town feel and they want close proximity to good places to shop and eat,” David says. Far fewer boomers are planning to relax in beach or mountain destinations (10 percent each) or cruises (11 percent). Only 4 percent of boomers say they are interested in visiting parks or camping. Some boomers are held in place by health issues or not being fit enough to travel, but urban areas often have amenities and public transportation that make it easier for older people who can’t drive to get around.

Finding travel deals

Some boomers fear they won’t be able to visit the destinations on their bucket list, most often due to a lack of money (45 percent). But there are also many discounts for older travelers on everything from hotels to rental cars. And retirees have the luxury of traveling when they can find a good rate, instead of during national holidays and school breaks. “I juggle my time off by when I can find good airfare to travel to a destination I have not been to yet,” says Linda Cateriano, a travel consultant at Expedia who has a bucket list of trips that includes Myanmar, Portugal, Cuba and Ecuador. “This sometimes means traveling during nonpeak times to get the best rates.”