Photo courtesy of Hanumann – Flickr
An article in the Sunday New York Times asserts that Boomers have been travel pacesetters since our student years when we hoisted backbacks and headed to Europe. Not surprisingly then, the writer claims that the travel industry has once again set their sights on our generation in 2013. And why not? Collectively, we’re about 26% of the population and control much of the country’s disposable income.
The NYT’s article cites 5 key ways Boomers are impacting current travel trends:
Since many Boomers plan to postpone retirement due to lost investments and a sputtering economy, the promise of taking a leisurely 3 week or longer trip has faded to the practical “What can I experience in a week to 10 days?” Consequently, tour operators are designing shorter itineraries to meet the needs of working boomers.
Photo courtesy of jimmiehomeschoolmom – Flickr
But let’s hope that the trend doesn’t regress to “How many countries can I pack into a week?” I’m reminded of a quote by Georgia O’Keeffe: “Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” While it’s good to have tour options, discovering the heart of a locale takes time.
Exotic Locations, Modern Amenities
Photo courtesy of druidabruxux- flickr
We Boomers are adventurers. We want to explore exotic locales, visit places previously off-limits that have opened up again for travelers, like Myanmar and Cuba. We want to hike, bike and climb mountains before our knees and hearts give out.
BUT, and this is a very important BUT, we do like our creature comforts. Our days of staying in youth hostels have fled along with the passing of our years. We wonder what’s wrong with a little indulgence, like luxury tents, gourmet food and a gentle massage after a day of hiking.
BUT, and this is another very important BUT, what about the travel trend of asking for Wi-fi connection wherever we go, even if in remote locations? Do we really need to stay connected to friends and family on Facebook 24/7 when traveling? Consciously taking time off-the-grid allows us to discover deeper connection to ourselves, our planet and each other.
Multigenerational travel is not a new trend. Grandparents have been taking their kids and grandkids along on their trips for the last several years. But Boomers have redefined what used to be specialized tours for grandparents and their families. More of us are still parents of children under 18 at what was once considered grandparenting age.
As the WanderBoomer mom of a 14-year-old, I can attest to that, and tour operators are scrambling to meet our changing travel needs.
Emphasis on Local Color
Another trend cited in the NYT’s piece is that Boomers relish having unique, authentic travel experiences, with the emphasis being on “experiences.” Many of us are widely traveled. Plus, deeply connecting with a culture, the local people and places makes up for having spent too many nights in chain hotels whether traveling for business or pleasure. Experiences allow us to become participants in a culture rather than simply voyeurs.
Customized Travel Options
We Boomers are individualists who balk at being stereotyped, herded into groups or labeled “seniors.” Travel companies have taken notice by acknowledging our youthfulness in their marketing copy. And travel operators catering to Boomers are building in more free time so we have the best of both worlds: community and comraderie, along with plenty of opportunities to take personalized side excursions.
What do you think, Wanderboomers? How do your travel plans in 2013 fit with these travel trends?