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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

Travel Copywriter
A boomer goes backpacking in Arizona's Superstition Mountains. Photo from southwestdiscoveries.com

A boomer goes backpacking in Aria’s Superstition Mountains. Photo from southwestdiscoveries.com

As frequent guest-poster and financial expert Jim McKinley points out in this piece, boomers on a budget can help realize their dreams of outdoor adventure — or any kind of travel, for that matter — by taking a number of relatively easy steps.

Tracking flight deals, accruing mileage points racked up by responsible use of credit cards, planning ahead, and saving on gear by finding coupons and promo codes online are all very doable.

And that list doesn’t even include camping or RVing to save on lodging (though maybe not your back). Or the great options now available on vacation rentals (airbnb, VRBO) that can make staying in a house more affordable than hotels, especially if you have other family or friends in tow.

Jim also provides a number of helpful links — so enjoy browsing through them, but don’t forget to return to clarknorton.com!

Now I’ll turn it over to Jim to expand on these tips. And we’ll see you on the road!

By Jim McKinley

J.R.R. Tolkien famously wrote, “Not all who wander are lost.”

For Baby Boomers who’ve been experiencing a case of wanderlust lately, Tolkien’s words provide inspiration to see the world. From outdoor vacations to adventure travel, many boomers are finding exciting ways to get a change of pace and scenery.

Just a few years ago, exotic vacations in lush destinations were reserved for the ultra-wealthy. These days, however, affordable vacation options are plentiful.

Adventure travel, which primarily focuses on exciting outdoor experiences in locations around the world, is a booming niche in the travel industry.

People of all ages can enjoy activities like hiking, cycling, hunting, and sailing. Some adventure travel agencies cater solely to Baby Boomers. You can even create your own customized experience to fit almost any budget.

If new sights and sounds are beckoning, here are some ways that thrill-seeking seniors can experience adventure travel without breaking the bank:

Save on Gear

As you stock up on the clothing, supplies, and other gear you’ll need for your trip, you can save money through smart shopping choices online.

Camping on ice in Nunavut will be hot this year, so to speak, among Americans vacationing in Canada. Photo from Nunavut Tourism

You may not want to go camping in Nunavut, but if you do, look for deals on gear. Photo from Nunavut Tourism.

For example, if you plan on buying most of your gear at a store like Dick’s Sporting Goods, start by searching for coupons and promo codes. That way, you can save as much money as possible.

Track Flight Deals

Thanks to internet technology, there are free and low-cost subscription services that track flight prices for you. Some examples include: Google Flights, Scott’s Cheap Flights, and Next Vacay.

You’ll simply specify your local airport(s) and destination(s) of interest, then receive real-time email updates as flight prices change. If you have some flexibility with your travel dates, this can be a frugal way to fly.

Use Mileage Points

Another way to save money on travel expenses is by using mileage points from frequent flyer programs.

For instance, if you’re still in the workforce and your job requires a lot of travel, sign up for rewards programs with those specific airlines or hotels.

Even if you travel with a variety of airlines and hotels, many of them partner with each other. If you book through a site like Hotels.com, you’ll earn free hotel stays after 10 bookings, even if you stay at a different hotel each time.

Whether you’re retired or not, you can still earn free trips by making purchases with a travel rewards credit card. There are many different credit card options available through banks and airlines.

Bison roam Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

This may be the year to check out the bison in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

If you can commit to only using your credit card for purchases that you can realistically pay off each month, credit card points can be a lucrative option for travel. Take a look at this comparison by Forbes, then apply for the card that best suits your needs.

Plan Ahead

Start a savings account and gradually add money to it over the coming weeks and months. This will help you build up some extra money to fund your trip.

If you can plan your trip several months or even a year in advance, you’ll also be able to catch special deals on flights and hotels. If possible, try to schedule your trip around the off season, when rates are typically much cheaper and there will be fewer tourists.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Through booking early and saving money, many boomers are experiencing the vacation of a lifetime.

From an exotic riverboat cruise to four-wheeling in desert sand dunes, from sipping cocktails with a loved one on the beach to watching the sunset over the Grand Canyon, you can enjoy outdoor travel at any age.

Author bio: Jim McKinley is a retired banker who loves explaining financial issues; see his website moneywithjim.org.

You might also like some of Jim’s previous guest posts:

Before You Travel: Some Simple Reminders

Want to Buy a Vacation Home? Read This First

Note to Readers: For the past several months I’ve been writing a new book (to be published this fall) called Secret Tucson. I’ll keep you apprised of the publication date.

Along with my previous book, 100 Things to Do in Tucson Before You Die, I’ve detailed 190 things to do in Tucson, Arizona — secret and well-known alike. So if you’re planning a trip to the Arizona desert (where it’s cheap!) don’t forget to order some copies. You can always contact me at clark@clarknorton.com. Thanks!

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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