Baby Boomers AARP Survey

Baby Boomers who travel are making themselves known. As 2015 starts to wind down, these Americans are already starting to make travel plans for 2016. But what do these folksy citizens of a certain age want in their 2016 vacations? Surprisingly, Wi-Fi is on up on the list.

A new survey released this week from AARP Travel, often a resource for America’s 76 million Baby Boomers who spend over $120 billion annually in leisure travel, found seven top travel trends for this group as 2016 approaches.

  • 2016 will bring a travel boom for Boomers. A whopping 99 percent of Baby Boomers are planning to travel next year, and more than three-quarters of them have already chosen their destination(s); 11 percent who are planning to take a domestic trip had booked their travel by September 2015.
  • Boomers may be deal seekers, but cost is not a deal breaker for their travel plans. Getting a great deal may make a trip even better, but for many Boomers, it won’t make or break their travel plans. More than half of Millennials and Gen Xers say that cost is a barrier to leisure travel, but only 45 percent of Boomers agree. Additionally, more than 6 in 10 Boomers say that higher airfares have had no impact on their personal travel plans.
  • International “bucket list” trips will be especially hot in 2016. It will be a year of once-in-a-lifetime trips for many Boomers: 32 percent will be embarking on an international bucket list trip. International trips will be especially popular in the spring, with 29 percent traveling to other countries then.
  • Summer and weekends will sizzle with domestic travel. Nearly a third of Boomers will take advantage of hot summer weather to make domestic trips. Quick weekend getaways will be popular, with 23 percent of Boomers saying they will choose a weekend for domestic travel. Twenty-six percent of Boomers say they will take domestic multi-generational trips (with three or more generations traveling together) in 2016, but that’s down from 32 percent in 2015.
  • There will be a lot of travel to hotspots—literally. Many Boomers will be packing their shorts and flip-flops in 2016, heading off to warm and wonderful destinations. Florida (19%) and Las Vegas (9%) will be the most popular domestic destinations for Boomers in 2016. Internationally, the Caribbean and Mexico (each 19%) will see the most Boomer travel.
  • Free Wi-Fi, please! When it comes to lodging amenities, free Wi-Fi is king. Forty-three percent of Boomers say that when choosing a hotel, free Wi-Fi is a must-have, as do 86 percent of Boomers seeking rental homes. While roughly 4 in 10 Boomers stay at hotels or motels when they travel, Airbnb and VRBO are growing in popularity: 1 in 10 Boomers are planning to use those services to rent a private residence instead of using a hotel on a 2016 trip. Social media, however, plays a very small role in influencing or occupying this older generation with two-thirds of Baby Boomers saying they will NOT post to a social media site while on vacation.
  • 2016 travel is all about F-U-N. Most Boomers spend their vacations surrounded by family—and with a smile on their face. Boomers say that when they’re on vacation, they do more smiling and laughing (68%) and that they spend more time with family (61%).

“The vast majority of Baby Boomers are planning to drive, fly or set sail on leisure trips in 2016, with an average of 4 or 5 trips already in the works,” said Stephanie Miles, VP, Products & Platforms, AARP. “Boomers make up a large segment of the traveling public, and so it’s particularly important for the travel industry to be aware of what Boomers are looking for in their vacations going into 2016.

The online survey was conducted September 17-28, 2015 among males and females 18 and older who had taken at least one trip 50 miles or more away from home, with a two-night stay, in the past two years.

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