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Adventure Travel: It's Not Just For The Young

Aug 17, 2007
It used to be true that a vacation meant getting away from one's day-to-day surroundings for the promise of leisure and relaxation. While that's still true, today's travelers expect more from the promise.

For previous generations, leisure and relaxation often meant being idle. When the World War II generation wanted to get away, some could afford to be pampered, but most did not do much more than eat, drink, and be merry. It was a generation that was content to spend a weekend camping at a local lake, gamble in Las Vegas or Lake Tahoe, or take a cruise in the Caribbean. Leisure activity was to them, essentially, an unheard-of oxymoron.

Not so anymore. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), baby boomers have, in recent years, embraced greater willingness to travel, and have the resources to do it. But while that much is true, adventure has become a big part of their travel plans.

A recent AARP survey of 1,594 respondents ages 41 to 59 shows that about 55% of boomers consider themselves adventurous, and a whopping 77% feel they are more adventurous than their parents. The survey suggests that huge numbers of seniors are traveling, and that they want to participate in healthy activities when traveling. The baby boomer generation, unlike their parents, is not content to lie around on the beach or get their only exercise playing one-armed bandits.

You can bet that the travel industry is capitalizing on this trend. In fact, a recent relationship between AARP and Travelocity has resulted in Passport, a travel service site aimed at the baby boomer market. There are over 81 million people in the United States 50 or older, which equates to roughly 28% of the U.S. population. It's a segment that controls 67% of the nation's wealth, has more than 750 million dollars in discretionary income, and owns more than 28 trillion dollars in assets. Baby boomers also want to spend that hard-earned money wisely, knowing that self-gratification means eating well, drinking moderately, getting in a good hike or a few good ski runs, and earning a good night's sleep while away from home.

Boomers know how to use the Internet, too, with nearly 40% of them booking their travel on the worldwide web. And, like much of the younger generation, they are looking for ways to streamline their lives, favoring e-commerce sites that allow them to quickly and easily pay for their vacations instantly via credit card, without writing checks or hassling with follow-up phone calls to book tours.

While good diet and exercise is uppermost in the travel plans of baby boomers, they also want intellectual or cultural stimulation, many having identified community heritage, artisan crafts, local theatre, naturalist-led hikes, and wine education as motivations for booking vacations in a given region.

Today's mature travelers, then, are not content to while away their leisure hours idly. They want to learn, feel, see, and do. And they have the desire, tools, and discretionary income to do it.
About the Author
Russ Beebe is an experienced wine taster and hiking guide who leads naturalist tours in the California wine country. Discover how you can enjoy the quintessential California experience at californiawinehikes.com.
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