Following World War II, thousands of G.I.s rushed home and immediately married and started families. The result? There are over 76.1 million baby boomers alive today—roughly 28% of the U.S. population. A baby boomer now turns 62 years of age every 7 seconds, and as this generation ages, the number of people in the United States aged 65 and over is expected to roughly double by 2030. Quick statistics show that the fifty plus age group of baby boomers are earning roughly two trillion dollars, in control of more than seven trillion dollars of wealth and own 77% of the financial assets in United States. That is not all, baby boomers also control 50% of the discretionary powers in both government and private organizations.
Okay, so big deal. Baby boomers are a huge and influential population beginning now to retire. But guess what many boomers intend to do during retirement? You guessed it—they plan to travel the globe. In fact, they have already traveled more than any other generation in U.S. history. And, in retirement, well over half of baby boomers plan to travel regularly, and a fourth of them already have decided to go on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday during the next decade! Believe it or not, this group places travel as a higher priority than spending more time with friends and family (48%), getting fit (37%), or finding a healthier way of life (31%).
As experienced travelers, expect boomers to seek out exotic destinations, less structure, and more ‘hands-on’ ways of experiencing the world. They will not typically book herd-like bus tours, stodgy sight-seeing tours, or the most common destinations. Unique experiences turn them on. They desire a stimulating, cultural/social experience, lots of interaction, and ‘adventure travel’ experiences.
Adventure travel is defined as either physically challenging outdoor activity or an off-the-beaten-path destination and experience. Boomers want to find the stuff of real life, the nitty gritty of how people throughout the world actually think and live. Boomers want to learn and to better themselves—therefore, intellectually stimulating travel also holds significant appeal to this group.
While most baby boomers plan to travel with a partner or with friends, over 11% indicate they wouldn’t mind traveling solo. Australia and New Zealand tend to test out as most popular sites at the moment, but Europe isn’t far behind, then come China, Russia, Africa, the Antarctic and, of course the good ole USA. What are some of the activities boomers are excited about? Adventure goals include off-roading, flying a helicopter, scuba diving, and attending various music festivals….
Baby boomers don’t mind letting someone else deal with booking details, but they want to know that their travel agent understands exactly the sort of travel experience they envision. They want agents who know the full panoply of travel fun and travel adventure available in the industry and how to help them access these treks. Travel planners, you have now received fair warning. So here’s to baby boomers and the next three decades or so. May the road rise to meet you; may the wind be always at your back, and may all your retirement adventure dreams come true.