Who are baby boomer travelers? A 2018 Snapshot

Published on: December 31, 2017 | Last Updated on June 22, 2018
With boomer friends in Italy

Baby boomer travelers aren’t all the same but we share one thing in common: We refuse to be defined by age alone; we follow our passions and interests.

Factors influencing of baby boomer travelers

Our travel plans differ based on a number of personal and situational factors as well as our personalities.

Among them: income and financial wherewithal, time available for travel (e.g., retired or working), caregiving responsibilities (for children and/or aging parents), travel history (been there, done that), travel aspirations (e.g. sense of adventure, curiosity), health status, and activity and energy levels.

A 2017 report from Immersion Interactive collected data that describes noteworthy characteristics of the group as a whole:

  • Boomers are between the ages of 51 and 69 (that was last year and, of course, they are getting older each year). In the U.S. alone, there are 74.9 million boomers in that age cohort.
  • They control some 70 percent of all disposable income.
  • Of boomer households, 63 percent include one individual who is still working.
  • Boomers are more tech savvy than you might imagine: 49 percent are tablet users and 40 percent are smartphone users (although these numbers pale in comparison to that of their millennial offspring).

Adding to our understanding of baby boomer travelers, is the most recent AARP travel survey data from the same year:

  • Most boomers are expected to take an average of five leisure trips in 2017.
  • TripAdvisor, Expedia, Travelocity, Yelp and Google Maps are the most common online planning and booking tools used by boomers.
  • Some of the most common barriers to boomer travel are cost, health and security concerns.
  • As a group, most boomers prefer travel that allows them time to relax, and spend time with family and friends.

What baby boomer travel trends are predicted in 2018?

Although not broken down by age (perhaps useful because boomers are such a varied lot), findings of the annual 2018 Virtuoso Luxe Report suggest that 2018 travel trends might be summed up as more of the same.

These trends don’t differ significantly from the same trends that have been emerging in recent years and, in our experience, they seem to apply to boomers as well. They include:

  • Multigenerational travel
  • Active or adventure trips
  • River cruising
  • Food and wine travel, and
  • Celebration travel

Lastly, this same report compiled by the Virtuoso luxury travel network notes that contemporary luxury travelers are foregoing “tourist” experiences preferring interactions with locals and more spontaneous discoveries.

Sounds like us, indeed!

Learn more about baby boomer travelers from the experts on GettingOnTravel:

On Luggage and Lipstick:

  • Reply
    December 31, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Here’s to many more exciting travels!

  • Reply
    Jeff & Crystal Bryant
    January 1, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    These are many of the same views we have seen during our research. 2018 looks to bring on an increase in cultural experiences for many baby boomer travels. Thanks for the additional statistics. Travel safely!

  • Reply
    Rachel Heller
    January 2, 2018 at 8:26 am

    I haven’t studied this, but what you describe certainly matches the anecdotal evidence of the boomer travelers I’ve come in contact with. I wonder how many boomer travelers are travelers because of earlier/younger experience. What I mean is that I get the sense that many boomers don’t travel, but they could. They choose not to because they’re inexperienced and are more fearful about travel than they need to be. That keeps them in the “safe zone” of cruises or Disney vacations.

    • Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      January 2, 2018 at 8:30 pm

      Would make for a fascinating study if we knew more about why some people travel and others don’t…there is probably some research out there!

  • Reply
    Judy Freedman
    January 2, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Cheers to more great travel adventures in 2018.

  • Reply
    January 2, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    How cool! Boomers really love to travel as l discover more and more and meet up with other world travel. I love the picture of all of you in Italy. I hope 2018 is even more travel filled for everyone. Time to enjoy the golden years :-).

    • Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      January 2, 2018 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks for your warm wishes, Kemkem! That trip to Italy with friends was great!

  • Reply
    Doreen Pendgracs
    January 2, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Superb post, Irene. I think it’s very interesting to study and understand the travel preferences of any demographic. As a boomer, I agree with the findings you have stated here, and am so grateful for the female friend of my father’s who taught me how to enjoy the finer end of the scale when it comes to travel (as my Dad only considered the thrifty end.) I am definitely NOT a budget traveler. Happy New Year to you and wishing you many safe travels.

    • Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      January 2, 2018 at 8:33 pm

      Nice that you had a “mentor” like that in your life, Doreen!

  • Reply
    Debbra Dunning Brouillette
    January 3, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    This is a great, informative post! Love the statistics and trends that resonate with me as a Baby Boomer who has loved to travel from an early age. I am hoping to stay healthy, which, as you mention, impacts many Boomers’ desire to travel or to stay close to home.

    • Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      January 3, 2018 at 3:19 pm

      Agree! Good health enables everything else!
      Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!
      Best, Irene

  • Reply
    Tom Bartel
    January 4, 2018 at 12:35 am

    Thanks for compiling all the research here, Irene. I’m going to steal some of this to explain what the hell we’re doing.

  • Reply
    Jackie Smith
    January 4, 2018 at 6:11 am

    And to think when I was young I dreaded that thought of getting old! Love this look at us ‘boomers’!

    • Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      January 4, 2018 at 11:00 am

      It can be a great time of life if we keep looking forward!

  • Reply
    Marilyn Jones
    January 5, 2018 at 3:17 am

    As a baby boomer I found your article interesting and fascinating. I certainly learned a lot about my generation and “our” travels.

  • Reply
    Carolyn Woody
    July 24, 2018 at 6:15 am

    Superb post, Irene. I think it’s very interesting to study and understand the travel preferences of any demographic.I am hoping to stay healthy, which, as you mention, impacts many Boomers’ desire to travel or to stay close to home.

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