An AARP Baby Boomers report finds that, more than ever, international travelers want to see things from a local’s perspective when they travel. In fact, nearly half of those surveyed discussed interest in touring with a local (49% compared to 40% in 2017). They also showed fewer vacation barriers than last year at this time (20% report no barriers compared to 12% a year ago) and a very strong urge to incorporate relaxation and rejuvenatation (up from 38% to 49%) into their travel plans moving forward.

The annual AARP Travel Trends survey shows that “2018 travel plans are all about connecting with family while getting away from our daily stressors,” said Stephanie Miles, AARP Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing and Member Benefits. “A vacation is often one of the best ways to renew and recharge ourselves and it provides an opportunity for us to connect with others and build stronger relationships.”

Other travel trends for baby boomers that came out of this year’s survey:

  • Boomers expect to take four or five leisure trips next year, spending an average of almost $6,400 on leisure travel in 2018 (most say this is the same or more than they spent in 2017). Millennials estimate they will shell out about $6,800 for vacations and Gen Xers $5,400.
  • More employed Boomers will use all or most of their vacation time in 2018 than in 2017 (68% compared to 59%)
  • 74% of Millennials expect to bring work along on a trip; 65% of Gen Xers plan to do the same; but just 56% of Boomers are likely to work while out of the office. Of those Boomers who do expect to work on vacation, most try to limit it to just 10% of their leisure time.

Just what motivates people to hit the road? About 57% of Boomers travel to spend time with family and friends, the same amount as last year. But in this new survey, 49% of Boomers say they will travel to relax and rejuvenate and are looking for a getaway from everyday life (up from 39%).


Top Destinations and Experiences for Baby Boomers: 

  • About half (49%) of respondents only expect to travel domestically. Florida and California are the most popular U.S. destinations.
  • The other half (47%) plan to travel domestically and internationally. Top choices for those going abroad: the Caribbean/Latin America and Europe.
  • Just 23% of international trips and 13% of domestic travel have been booked for 2018. Of those still planning, 75% have chosen their destination abroad and 72% of those traveling in the U.S. know where they want to go. 
  • For those who travel in the U.S., trips are mostly summer vacations, multi-generational travel or weekend getaways.  About 66% of Boomers travel domestically by plane and 60% by car.
  • For Boomers, going abroad is more likely a “bucket list” trip (22%), the online survey found. As for ways to experience a new destination, increasingly travelers abroad like the idea of touring with a local in 2018.

Stay Time vs. Play Time

Once they’ve landed, 62% of Boomers stay in hotels or motels.  A common reason they choose this over renting private homes: they prefer the amenities, like concierge and room service, offered at a hotel.  Cruises make up over one-third of international travel for this group so a ship cabin is the second-most popular international accommodation, according to the study.

Those who rent private homes say they are drawn to the additional amenities such as a kitchen or washer/dryer. Others feel they are more affordable and offer more space.  Still, 10% opt for Airbnb or VRBO types of accommodations, 6% to 8% prefer bed-and-breakfasts and 2% to 6% plan to stay in company-managed private homes. The survey found Millennials are more open to staying in alternative accommodations, such as private home rentals, than Boomers.

Travel Barriers

Cost is the top reason Americans of all ages say they don’t travel more, the study found.  For Millennials and Gen Xers, work responsibilities and family obligations were the next most common reasons cited.  Boomers said health and weather were other barriers to travel in 2018.


The AARP Travel online survey was conducted among 1,728 males and females age 20+ in September 2017. Respondents had taken at least one trip 50 miles or more away from home with a two-night stay in the past two years. They also were users of online travel sites and intended to take a leisure trip in 2018. Final data have been weighted to the U.S. Census for analysis, by generation. Survey was authored by Vicki Gelfeld at AARP.