Baby boomer travel is exploding! Baby Boomers comprise approximately 26% of the U.S. population and are responsible for 80% of all luxury travel spending. AARP statistics indicate that Boomers who are still working will take all/most of their vacation time and an average of five trips a year.
Baby Boomer travel is different than Millennial travel in that Boomers’ number one reason for vacations is to visit their “Bucket Lists” destinations, while Millennials have little interest in bucket list trips.
The Boomer generation was born between 1945 and 1964, further broken down as follows:
- Leading-Edge Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1955
- Late Boomers – born between 1956 and 1964
There are also nicknames for sub‑segments of the baby-boomer generation, including “golden boomers,” “Generation Jones,” “alpha boomers,” “hippies,” “yippies,” “yuppies,” “zoomers,” and “cuspers.”
Some reasons cited by Baby Boomers for why they travel:
- Allows an opportunity for couples to bond after the kids leave the nest
- More expendable income at this stage of life
- Travel makes you healthier, happier, and more productive
Baby Boomers are also trending toward affordable luxury or boutique travel. Tour companies such as Viking Cruises, AdventureSmith Explorations, JayWay Travel, and others are targeting and catering their trips to fit this demographic.
Here are fifteen Bucket List trip ideas, from some of the top Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers.
Few places inspire wanderlust as much as Machu Picchu. One of the most intriguing archeological sites on the planet, the citadel was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
Often called “the Lost City of the Incas,” the exact purpose of the remote and sprawling bastion remains shrouded in mystery. Tourists can arrive at the site by either hiking the Inca Trail, or simply taking a bus. Once on-site, a short but steep hike is required to get to the money shot – that surreal viewpoint looking down on the Inca village nestled in the crook of the towering Andes. It’s a view that will stay with you forever.
New regulations require tourists to use a local guide who will take you on a two-to-three-hour tour throughout the ruins, explaining the historical significance along the way.
By Patti Morrow of Luggage and Lipstick
If you’re trying to decide where to go on vacation, then do I have the perfect place for you? You bet I do: Palawan, El Nido Resorts in the Philippines. The Philippines are the perfect place to begin a spectacular trip for baby boomers!! In all my travels, I have never seen such pure beauty in a tropical island setting. I also agree with Conde-Nast Traveler Magazine when they named Palawan, Philippines, and the El Nido Palawan Resorts as the best island paradise in the world!
Where is Palawan? Palawan is one of the 1,780 islands in the western part of the Philippines archipelago. Why go? Because it is warm, gorgeous, and sparsely populated so that you will have most of the islands to yourself! It is known as the “last ecological frontier of the Philippines.” The biodiversity is amazing! You won’t regret a single minute of Palawan.
By Cacinda Maloney of Points and Travel
Many baby boomers feel a special connection to Paris. Inspired by movies, books, and photographs going back to our youth, Paris is a romantic destination we longed to visit someday. Given the opportunity to realize my dream trip there, I found Paris to be the exciting and sophisticated city I imagined, and it continues to enthrall with each subsequent stay.
There’s always something new to capture my interest as well as familiar iconic places and activities that just get better with time – relaxing in cafés, visiting museums, exploring diverse districts via the Metro, meeting (and speaking “un peu français”) with Parisians, enjoying the beauty of the Luxembourg Gardens, walking along the Seine, and watching the dazzling sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees. Such experiences fulfill a boomer traveler’s dreams, and they can be repeated time and again.
By Catherine Sweeney of Traveling with Sweeney
Galapagos is an iconic destination for boomer travelers. There is no place like it on Earth. The strings of islands with unique and approachable wildlife—many species not found anywhere else in the world—is located 1,000 km from the nearest land, Ecuador in South America. What a blast it is to swim with turtles and sea lions, to hike among iguanas and albatross, and watch flamingoes and blue-footed boobies do mating dances.
The entirety of Galapagos is also a national park and the number of visitors and methods of tourism are strictly controlled. Unlike pretty much anywhere else I have ever been, the Galapagos islands were extremely clean of manmade trash. On one 90 minute hike, I challenged myself to find three pieces of trash and I did not. Duly impressed! I recommend a cruise between islands and enjoyed my experience on Celebrity Xpedition.
By Charles McCool of McCool Travel
The perfect blend of exotic and welcoming atmosphere, Vietnam is a solid contender for a boomer traveler’s bucket list. If your impression of Vietnam is colored by decades-old memories of it on the news, you’ll be delighted to learn that the country has leaped into the 21st century by developing an enviable tourist-friendly infrastructure, without sacrificing fascinating culture and historic traditions. Legendary hospitality, amazing scenery, delicious food, and sophisticated venues combine for a marvelous, eye-opening experience.
We recommend train travel in Vietnam – you can traverse the entire length of the country from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City in the south – for a most memorable trip. Bookend your journey with multiple stays of several days each in the two cities to round out your trip.
By Betsy Wuebker of Passing Thru
While the Taj Mahal gets most of the attention, Jaipur is India’s jewel in the crown. The city is the main gateway to Rajasthan, the country’s largest state and there’s no denying that a visit quickly gets under your skin. The sights, smells, colors, and chaos have kept me returning again and again, assaulting my senses in the very best of ways.
This iconic destination will reward Baby Boomers with luxury, attention to detail and a cultural experience most will find hard to surpass. Majestic forts and palaces may dot the skyline, but the bazaars and turbaned, mustached smiles are what will leave an impression. Make sure to go armed with a shopping list, as all roads lead to another handmade textile or indigenous craft. Don’t miss a rooftop sunset, The Gem Palace and the most colorful saris in all of India.
By Alison Abbott of Green With Renvy
Uyuni Salt Flat, Bolivia
It takes some dedication to get to the great Uyuni Salt Flat of Bolivia in the first place. That makes the experience even more special as you ride a vehicle right onto the giant crusty surface, with a vast horizon of whiteness in multiple directions. Your brain has trouble squaring what your eyes are seeing with the heat you feel around you. It looks like snow and ice, but the crunch underfoot is a shallow sea of salt, extending over more than 4,000 square miles.
Most people just do a quick day tour from the town of Uyuni or stay at a gimmicky “salt hotel” close by. The best bucket list option though, if you have come this far, is to keep going overland. Spend the night in a village on the opposite side of the salt flat, then continue on south past surreal landscapes and lagoons until you end up in the Atacama Desert of Chile.
By Tim Leffel of Cheapest Destinations Blog and Perceptive Travel
The scintillating sculpture of sea, sky and, terra confront the senses in Greece unlike anywhere else, a stunning visual tableau of inspiration for human design over this land for millennia.
On the islands, striking blue meets white and melds into shards of green, black, gray, brown and strata of purple, red, yellow, orange, and blue swirls in cliffs above harbors and down on the beaches, themselves the offspring of volcanoes. Each island offers its own version of the perfect getaway for the baby boomer.
On Skopelos, you’ll find quiet beaches, first-rate lodging, farm-to-table fresh food, and the “Mama Mia Church” away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy Greek isles.
Fly to Athens, then to Skiathos via Aegean Air to catch a ferry. Checkout HellenicSeaways for ferry timetables from points on the mainland. Rent a car the size of a refrigerator. That’s what works on island roads.
By Tom Talleur of RoverTreks
You can’t get more iconic than Bora Bora, when it comes to romantic destinations of unparalleled beauty. The majority of its resorts feature overwater bungalows. First invented in the South Pacific, there’s just something dreamy about staying in one, built over the lagoon on stilts.
Bora Bora is a part of the Society Islands, located 140 miles from Tahiti in French Polynesia. A lagoon and a barrier reef surround the main island, dominated by its two volcanic peaks.
Why it’s a good fit for boomers? A trip to the South Pacific is a splurge, no matter how you go, and a stay in an overwater bungalow perched over the Bora Bora lagoon is worthy of a special, once-in-a-lifetime trip. Think of planning a trip there for a special anniversary, a renewal of vows, or to celebrate a retirement. Boomers will appreciate the level of luxury provided at any of Bora Bora’s major resorts.
By Debbra Dunning Brouillette of Tropical Travel Girl
The walled cities of Dubrovnik and Split lure visitors by the thousands each year. While the cities are incredible for their location, architecture, history and movie locations (both have been scene locales for the Game of Thrones,) there’s so much more to enjoy throughout Croatia. I spent ten days traveling first by small cruise ship with Katarina Lines and visited five island ports. It was an incredible introduction to the Croatian coastline. Then I headed north by bus to Zagreb and spent two days walking the city with a distant cousin who lives near.
A few days later my beloved arrived and we rented a car to drive to see the incredible waterfalls of Plitvice National Park. Setting aside two days to visit from two different entry points was the best decision and gave us time to fully appreciate the rare rock formations, take short boat trips, and hike raised trails overflowing waters for hours. It was heavenly especially as we were there in late fall before tourists crowded in. Another spot that stole my heart was coastal Zadar offering sunset rituals that are unparalleled. Finally, we dropped our car in the fortress village of Rovinj before flying to Rome.
This was my favorite spot in Europe for the size, beauty, and proximity to natural caves, trails, and historical islands. Best tip: Arrange to take the high-speed boat from Rovinj to Venice. If I’d known about the two-hour trip, I’d never have booked a flight to Rome!
By Elaine Masters of Tripwellgal
Cheers. If you’re a baby boomer and have never visited London, England, it’s time! It’s the mother city of the English speaking world, replete with art, history, and culture. London boasts 23 free museums, including the famed British Museum and the National Gallery. Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and the Churchill War Rooms are other London venues well worth paying to visit. Take in a play in the West End theater district. Enjoy a boat ride on the Thames to Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace and Greenwich where you can straddle the Prime Meridian and learn about nautical London.
With two major airports (Heathrow and Gatwick), London is served by many international non-stop flights. Although it’s a sprawling city of over 8.5 million residents, London has an excellent, easy to use public transportation system, so you can easily stay in one of the city’s iconic neighborhoods outside the city center.
By Suzanne Fluhr of Boomeresque
Every year, Charleston is at or near the top of the list of best cities in the world… and for good reason. The historic downtown is lined with stunning antebellum buildings and the Atlantic Ocean is just a stone-throw away. And locals claim that you can eat in a different restaurant every night of the year – and they’re all fantastic!
Some of Charleston’s must-see attractions include the Battery – a gorgeous promenade stretching along the lower shores of the Charleston peninsula; Rainbow Row – it’s a series of thirteen pastel-colored Georgian houses along the waterfront; City Market – one of the nation’s oldest public markets; Waterfront Park with views of the Charleston Harbor and the famous Pineapple Fountain; Boone Hall Plantation and interactive historical site; and she-crab soup while watching the sunset over Charleston at Patriot Point.
By Kary Kern of Gone to Carolinas
If Antarctica isn’t at the top of your bucket list, it should be. The great white continent is one of the last frontiers when it comes to adventure travel. And we all want at least one more grand adventure in our lives, right?
An expedition cruise is the best way to experience Antarctica. From less expensive (this isn’t a cheap trip) to luxury options, the adventure begins as your ship crosses the Drake Channel.
Arriving at the Antarctica peninsula, views of icebergs and white-covered mountains plunging into the sea will lure you out on deck. Adventures include walking among penguins, riding zodiacs to view icebergs and looking for seals and whales from the ship’s deck. There are even opportunities to kayak in sheltered coves.
A trip to Antarctica will inspire your travels for years to come. And, the best part, it’s a doable adventure for baby boomers.
By Donna Hull of My Itchy Travel Feet
San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende, the UNESCO-listed colonial town in Mexico’s central highlands, wasn’t always an “iconic” destination. My how things have changed. Named Best City in the World two years in a row by both Condé Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure, San Miguel is no longer off the beaten path. It’s a highlight of the path. And one you really need to put on your bucket list. With cobblestone streets, gorgeous colonial architecture, art, and artists everywhere (like way more than 100 art galleries), and a mecca for foodies, San Miguel offers a plethora of the things boomers love when they travel. One special highlight of San Miguel is the opportunities for learning vacations. Cooking classes? Check. Art classes? Check. Language, art history, writing, tango, yoga? Check, check and double-check. Finally, you’ll find lots of other boomers living la vida buena in San Miguel de Allende.
By Donna Meyer of Nomad Women
Begin your discovery of Emilia Romagna’s riches in the region’s capital, Bologna. The city is filled with an abundance of culinary, architectural and cultural treasures—devoid of the hoards of tourists found in other large cities.
Even Italians admit, reluctantly, that no other place in Italy offers better cuisine than Bologna. Visit the ancient mercato, salumerie, trattorie, and ristorantes to savor regional specialties. Walk under miles of magnificent porticos (covered walkways), visit the museums (more than 50), and spend time in the city’s well-preserved historic center anchored by the Piazza Maggiore, its virtual living room.
Next time: Visit the factories, farms, and producers in the surrounding hills—and add other city gems like Ferrara, Modena, Parma, Ravenna and Rimini to your itinerary.
By Irene S. Levine of More Time to Travel
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About the Author
Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning international blog Luggage and Lipstick and southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. TripAdvisor called her one of “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials.” Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled six continents looking for fabulous places and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer (and Gen X!) tribe.