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Nancy Shonka Padberg

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7 Hot Travel Trends For Baby Boomers

Posted: 06/23/2012 10:25 am

I was in Phoenix recently for meetings with advertising agencies and had lunch with my father and his friends. The conversation turned to travel -- from adventure, to cruises to golf. Now is a good time to mention the majority of people at lunch were in their 60's and 70's -- one dynamic couple had gone sky diving on multiple occasions! Many had enjoyed cruising to the Mediterranean, Panama Canal, Greece and Italy.

As marketers, we know that consumers ages 45 + have the desire and resources to travel. Boomer consumers purchase 80% of the luxury travel and over 60% have their passports. There is a pent up demand for travel from years of our recession. Confidence is growing and travel planning is beginning to rise.

Here are several categories of travel that are hot among baby boomers:

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  • Eco-Tourism

    Green-focused consumers with sensitivity to the environment and world sustainability. The UN World Tourism Organization predicts 1.6 billion trips by 2020. Trips include hiking, seeing waterfalls, nature walks, bird watching and more. 

  • Adventure Travel

    Adventure travel is for everyone of all ages. According to a report by George Washington University and the Adventure Travel Trade Association, the adventure category spending was $89 billion in 2009 with much growth ahead. Boomers and seniors are hiking, sky diving, snorkeling, scuba diving, cycling and skiing -- and as I heard at the table, "after I raised my kids it was my turn to have the experience and not watch others do it!" 

  • Religion

    Over 900,000 people from the U.S. average age of 55 traveled for religious reasons, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Holy Land includes Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Italy, Portugal and France. Ninety percent of the faith-based travelers are Christians. 

  • Culinary Cruises

    Boomers love their food, wine and cruising. Put them together and you have a growing market. Holland Cruises started culinary cruises five years ago -- now most of the cruises include culinary delights and focus. 

  • Destination Weddings

    The fastest-growing online dating consumer category is ages 50+. According to The Wedding Report, 2 million couples get married in the U.S. each year, spending an average of $27,000. Destination weddings represent 16% of the wedding market and over $5 billion. 

  • Multi-Generational Or Family Trips

    These trips tend to be booked around milestone events such as birthdays or anniversaries. Note: grandparents are known now to take their grandkids to Europe today because they are savvy travelers themselves. These big-ticket trips will give them quality time and memories for a lifetime. 

  • Medical Tourism

    According to the Medical Tourism Association, the medical travel  industry is a $60 billion industry. As Boomers age, affordable health care may be found outside the country. Most popular destinations include Singapore, Thailand, India, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jordan, Turkey and Brazil. 

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