Baby boomers are really going places: It’s in their DNA. Just as they have “changed the world,” to quote a Graham Nash song, and are redefining retirement, so are they putting their own inimitable stamp on travel.
Boomers, generally considered to having been born between 1946 through 1964, comprise 15 percent of leisure travelers and take an average of 4.4 leisure trips each year, according to the U.S. Travel Association. More than eight-in-ten boomers surveyed in February by Millionaire Corner, said they plan on taking a family vacation this year.
What distinguishes the boomer traveler? Characteristically, it’s their outlook, according to a recent survey published in Travel Marketing Decisions, a publication of the Association of Travel Marketing Directors. Boomers, writes Kim Ross, “consider travel a necessity, not a luxury.”
Ross also observes that boomers “have traveled more than their predecessors.” They didn’t wait until they retired to take a dream trip abroad. Instead, many backpacked and bummed around Europe or other distant climes as students.
Boomers consider themselves to be fully engaged and vital. For this reason, there is an increase in demand for “Experiential travel”—or the “E Factor,” according to another survey conducted by the United States Tour Operators Association. Experiential travel, as defined by PURE Life Experiences, a networking platform for the Experiential and Transformational Travel sector, is “…a journey away from home, involving a truly memorable and powerful experience (active, cultural, natural, social, or spiritual) that will enrich a person’s life and improve the way that they connect with both loved ones and with the world.”
Eighty-five percent of respondents to the USTOA survey rated the “E Factor” to be “important/extremely important,” and that boomers comprise the largest age group of travelers seeking “E Factor” vacations.
This, again, is very much in character for boomers. Ross writes that boomer travelers “are not passive.” Not only do they “want to have fun,” but they also “see themselves as forever young” and “think they are special,” which would give the once-in-a-lifetime thrill of an “E Factor” vacation a particular allure.
Boomers, Ross writes, have not lost their skepticism of institutions and individuals, and so are bound to do their homework on travel destinations. But they also like their creature comforts and “will pay for luxury, expertise, and convenience.”
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.