Travel Tips from Boomers, for Boomers

  • Grace Lower
Sep 17, 2018

With an estimated 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, a new generation of Americans is entering, or approaching, retirement. In recent years, the tourism and hospitality industries have taken a special interest in boomers, since they often have more time and money to spare for travel. And travel they will! According to a report from AARP, 96% of boomers plan to take at least one domestic trip in 2018, and  51% will travel internationally. Gone are the days of quiet retirements—baby boomers are hitting the road, taking to the skies, and tackling their bucket lists along the way. 

While all travelers should plan carefully, protect their health, and research diligently, boomers have travel priorities unique to their generation. When I spoke with some of the travel-loving boomers in my life, here’s what they had to share:

On the best parts of travel ... 

Brad: As much as I enjoy travel personally, it’s a great way to connect with [my wife]. She is always at her happiest when we’re on a trip. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend away or a vacation in Europe: she just lights up. She and I have worked hard and made plenty of sacrifices over the years: now’s the time for us to just have fun together.

Mary Beth: When you travel with young kids, like I used to, you usually stick with repetitive trips that you know the kids will enjoy. Now that our boys are all grown up, [my husband and I] are a little more adventurous. We took a trip to Canada this summer, and we spent about half the trip just riding in trains, since my husband is such a train guy. These days, we love being able to plan our trips around what we like to do, and not just focus on the kids the whole time. 

Jill: The best part of traveling now is being able to go on a whim. [My husband] and I love to do spontaneous road trips; for us, that’s jumping in the MINI and heading to the beach! 

Christina: Now that we’re empty-nesters [My husband and I] can take longer trips without worrying about school schedules. We can splurge on a nice meal or an extra night at a hotel without having to crunch the numbers first. It’s not that we have a ton of extra time and money; since we don’t have to factor in kids, we can do more with what we already have.

On planning ...

Brad: At this point in life, we have flexibility to take longer trips and travel off-season. That saves us a lot of money, and it lets us be more spontaneous about our vacation timing. 

Mary Beth: Keeping travel plans simple makes a trip so much easier, so you can really focus on the people you’re with. I’m not the kind of person who needs to have something planned for every single hour of the day. I do a little research in advance and come up with just a few activities for when we’re there. 

Jill: Researching destinations, routes, places to stay—we try to see planning as just another part of the travel experience. In particular, my family has an affinity for “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” joints. We always try to find one along our route or at our destination.

Christina: I love to plan, but recently I have had a lot of fun finding private tours online and outsourcing the bulk of my travel planning to the experts. If you book something like a tour or a travel package, it takes the pressure off. You can just show up at a destination and enjoy.

On travel hacks ...

Brad: You’d be amazed at how much money gets spent on food. We’ll stay at places where breakfast is included, have our main meal at midday, and enjoy a light dinner and drinks in the evening. Sometimes we’ll even run to the grocery store for good cheese and a bottle of wine to have at the hotel. We really don’t miss much by not having every meal out. 

Mary Beth: Technology has totally changed the way we travel! We love using apps like Uber or going on TripAdvisor because it gets rid of the guesswork. If anything, technology makes us want to travel more, because we have access to photos and articles about places we may have never thought to visit.

Jill: I will stalk the heck out of a destination, and I read reviews! You can typically toss out the high-maintenance “I didn’t get my way” type of reviews, but I’m always interested in the owner’s response. Did they take their guest’s comments seriously and address the issue? If you are in the service industry and you don’t serve, I’m not spending my money with you. 

Christina: My advice is to either book everything well in advance, or be spontaneous by tracking flights and then springing for cheap airfare as soon as it shows up. Another trick is taking small, lesser-known airlines if you’re traveling within Europe—they’re usually a lot cheaper than renting a car. Also, if you can, use a credit card that earns you points for your travel purchases. The right card can make all that airfare a lot less painful!

On being adventurous …

Brad: I would tell other baby boomers to start checking items off your bucket list as soon as you can. Do all the things that you were putting off. After years of focusing on family and professional obligations first, it's okay to re-prioritize and play.

Mary Beth: You really don't have to go far from home to have a great vacation. [My husband and I] would love to do a Europe trip one day, but with our jobs and two dogs at home, we’ve actually done most of our traveling nearby. Weekend trips are such an easy way to relax! Plus, it’s easy to get your friends to join you, since you’re only asking for a two-day commitment.  

Jill: To anyone who thinks they’re “too old” or “too boring” to travel, I’d say get over yourself and freaking GO! All of our days are numbered; why not live those things you’ve only dreamt of? Make it easy on yourself and start with a cruise—that’s a great way to experience different places with the security of not having to plan too much. 

Christina: It's a huge world out there. Some people, when they get older, go on the same vacation year after year. That’s just not how I operate. I think it’s important to get out of your comfort zone. There are so many places that my husband and I wouldn’t have ever discovered that we loved if we hadn’t been open to exploring new cities. 



About the Author

Grace Lower

Grace Lower has a love for all things writing and travel. When she's not exploring new places, Grace enjoys teaching English as a Second Language, making terrible puns, and running incredibly long distances at incredibly slow speeds.

Read more of Grace’s blogs

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