A recent British Airways survey of 2,000 randomly chosen U.S. baby boomers (aged 55-70) asked what their biggest regrets were in life.
About one out of five (women 22 percent, men 17 percent) responded that they wish they had traveled more.
The majority of those respondents cited responsibilities at work and home that ate up their time — and what they believed would be prohibitive expense — as to why they hadn’t pursued their travel dreams.
About half the men surveyed and more than 60 percent of the women had never gotten passports, mainly due to the perceived expense of international travel.
More than a fifth of all those surveyed now believed that not taking vacations had had a negative effect on their health. And of those who did take vacations, 10 percent said they had worked more than an hour a day during their time away. (Twice as many men as women said they regretted working too much.)
Other regrets expressed also had potential travel implications.
About 15 percent of respondents said they regretted not spending more time with their children.
For all the bad rap travel with children sometime gets, it’s often the best quality time parents and children can have together. Many of my own fondest childhood memories are of the long-distance car trips my family and I took around the U.S. And many of my most treasured memories of my own children growing up revolve around the trips we took around the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and France.
Now my wife and I are looking forward to traveling with our grandson this summer.
Family also plays another role: researching one’s heritage. More than a quarter of survey respondents said they have visited destinations to get to know their family history and heritage better. And eight out of 10 of the baby boomers agreed that knowing their family history and heritage do inspire them to visit certain destinations, even if they haven’t yet.
Another 26 percent expressed regret at losing contact with old friends. Yes, we now have Facebook to try to reconnect, but what better way to really re-establish relationships than by visiting those old friends in person, perhaps on a driving vacation?
Travel done right is not just a vacation, though (not that there’s anything wrong with vacationing). It offers new ways to see the world –whether it’s different regions of your own country or entirely new cultures — and it can often lead to lasting new bonds or friendships with those we travel with or meet along the way.
And travel has indeed been shown to improve your health.
Yes, travel — especially international travel — can be expensive.
But great deals can be had.
You can find Caribbean (or other cruises) for as little as $50 a day per person, including your accommodations, food, and transport. You can find inexpensive hostels, pensions or B&B’s to stay in when traveling abroad. You can seek out special deals for tourists, such as European rail passes available only to non-Europeans.
I’ll be detailing these types of special deals and more in this blog, because many baby boomers are now on fixed budgets after retirement.
A good start is getting a passport if you don’t have one. And if you do have one that hasn’t been used in a while, find it and dust it off.
The world awaits, regardless of your age. Regrets don’t have to.