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Baby Boomers Regret the Roads Not Traveled

Almost one-fourth of Baby Boomers cite work commitments as the reason they have foregone travel.

| BY Donald Liebenson

Regrets, Baby Boomers have a few. Chief among them, according to a new British Airways survey, is that they did not travel enough. Self-serving though these results may be, the survey of 2,000 American Baby Boomers ages 55 and up finds “a newfound interest in seeing the world as they enter into retirement.”

The late Sen. Paul Tsongas is credited with saying, “No man ever said on his deathbed, ‘I wish I had spent more time in the office.’” A fifth of the respondents to the British Airways survey reported that not traveling enough is one of their biggest regrets when reflecting on their life thus far. This regret is more keenly felt by women than men (22 percent vs. 17 percent). In comparison, 26 percent of Baby Boomers overall said they regretted most losing contact with friends, while 17 percent of male Baby Boomers (who probably have listened to Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” one too many times) said they most regretted not spending enough time with their children. Only 12 percent of women expressed this regret.

What has stopped these Baby Boomers from traveling? Perhaps it’s their work ethic. Spectrem Group wealth segment research of Millionaire households with a net worth up to $5 million (not including primary residence) finds that nearly all Millionaires surveyed (97 percent) cite hard work as the primary factor in their wealth creation, while eight-in-ten credit frugality.

The British Airways survey found that 22 percent of Baby Boomers said one reason they haven’t traveled overseas more over the years is due to work commitments. A previous British Airways survey found that just one-third of Americans took their vacation days in 2015, compared to two-fifths of their British counterparts. More than 21 percent of those Americans who left vacation days on the table said they did so because they felt as if they would be letting their employers down.

Baby Boomers who do go on vacation are digitally tethered to the office, according to a 2014 Spectrem Group survey. One-fourth of Baby Boomers “always” check their work e-mails and voice mails while on vacation, while 17 percent do so “sometimes” or “occasionally.” The primary reason: It keeps them up-to-date on what is going on at work.

Back to the British Airways survey: Besides work considerations, many Baby Boomers—especially women-- report cost to be the primary factor keeping them at home. Nearly two-thirds of women Baby Boomers said they have never owned a passport because they didn’t think they could afford to travel overseas, compared to 48 percent of men.

The travel destinations of Baby Boomers suggest a reflective mindset. Eight-of-ten respondents said that knowing their family history and an interest in their heritage inspired them to visit a certain destination.

About the Author

Donald Liebenson

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.