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The Expert in Baby Boomer Travel

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Luxury cruise travel -- such as on Hapag-Lloyd's Europa 2 -- is one favorite of senior travelers. Photo by Clark Norton.

Luxury cruise travel — such as on Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2 — is one favorite of senior travelers. Photo by Clark Norton.

In my last post, I recommended a piece by Anita Mendiratta of the CNN Task Force contending that the world’s seniors (those aged 60 and up) are “global tourism’s silver lining.”

Based on world tourism and economic statistics, Mendiratta notes that senior travelers have more disposable income than other age groups, have more flexibility as to when to travel, and tend to stay longer on the trips they make.

But I thought her own observations about how seniors bring a special sense of excitement and awe to travel was especially insightful.

Baby boomers (now in their 50s and 60s) have a lifetime of experience and knowledge to bring to their travels, and I think this results in greater appreciation for — and excitement about — the places they visit.

Of course, this is a generalization and specific travelers differ greatly; many millennials and Gen Xers, who include a number of my family and friends, are ardent travelers, and many baby boomers come off as jaded “been there, done that” types (a phrase I detest, by the way, but that seems appropriate in this context).

But many boomers are also aware that they may not have decades of travel ahead of them and won’t have unlimited opportunities to visit new destinations and re-visit some of their old favorites. This, I believe, results in greater focus on experiential travel — fulfilling the bucket list, if you will — not just to check off yet another country or city but to truly soak in all that the destination has to offer.

Ways in Which Seniors Enrich the Global Travel Scene

In her piece, Mendiratta outlines a number of travel sectors in which today’s seniors are proving to be a rich resource across the globe. As she writes:

 Baby boomers are more likely to travel longer and farther than members of other age groups. Photo by Clark Norton

Baby boomers are more likely to travel longer and farther than members of other age groups. Photo by Clark Norton

Luxury travel: Being “very willing and able to pay for…high levels of comfort and quality,” and “spending the time and thought to research where best to spend their travel funds.”

Cruise travel (both ocean and river cruising): “Exploring different parts of the world in the comfort of an unpack-once, make-yourself-at home stateroom, [amid] a community of like-minded travelers.”

Health and wellness travel: “Seeking out, appreciating and enjoying travel focused on their well-being, be it preventative or curative.”

Milestone travel: “Stopping to richly and meaningfully celebrate life’s precious moments as a couple, as a family, or solo.”

Genealogical travel: “Taking time to take a closer look at one’s roots and relations, traveling the world to strengthen one’s sense of place in the world.”

Travel Clubs: “Creating a community of travel companions with whom to share experiences, memories and future anticipation of the next time together.”

Multi-generational travel: “Enjoying time with children and grandchildren, sharing journeys to new places and/or returning to reunite, finding things to do that make all happy, building bonds across the generations.”

Bucket List travel: “Finally fulfilling those greatest life wishes, because they can!”

I’ve written about several of these topics — luxury travel, cruise travel, health and wellness travel, multi-generational travel, and bucket list travel — many times in this blog, and promise to cover milestone travel, genealogical travel, and travel clubs in the future: all good choices for baby boomer travelers.

I’ll also take a look at what Mendiratta describes as “The Secret to the Senior Segment” in a later post.

Travel Tip of the Day: To get the best deal possible, avoid calling hotel chains’ toll-free numbers when making a reservation at a particular hotel in the chain. The toll-free operators may not know about or be authorized to offer special discounts that the hotel is featuring — which can save you up to many times the cost (if any) of a direct call to the hotel.

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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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