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AARP Travel Research: Celebration Vacations

For more ideas on planning a “celebration vacation”, visit

Taking a trip to celebrate special milestones in life, such as birthdays and anniversaries, is a preferred activity among adults age 45 and older. Approximately three-fourths of adults age 45+ have taken, or intend to take, a Celebration Vacation.  This research report includes many details about Celebration Vacations, including motivations for taking the trip, top destinations, and travel pain points.  Data on existing Celebration Vacationers and those who aspire to take a Celebration Vacation are included in this report, as well.

Key findings include:

  • There are a number of reasons why people choose travel as a way to celebrate, but the sheer enjoyment of it and the desire to get away top the list.

  • Celebration Vacationers are looking for a laid back and relaxing trip, with many looking forward to spending time with family and friends.

  • Anniversaries and Birthdays are the most common milestones to
    celebrate with a trip, although they do not appear to be planned far in advance and may be a bit more spontaneous than other milestone trips.

  • Those celebrating the milestone are most likely the person doing all the planning, with the exception of those who are celebrating bigger birthdays (i.e. 70th), these appear to be planned by someone else.

  • Traveling within the U.S. is a popular choice for Celebration Vacations, followed by trips to a Tropical location or Europe.

    • So not surprising, a City is the most common type of location cited, followed by the beach.
  • Approximately 50% of respondents claim to travel with just one other person, primarily their significant other. 

    • This is driven by the high incidence of Anniversary trips; those celebrating birthdays or other milestones are more likely to travel with a variety of family and friends.
  • The hardest part of the travel process is planning the budget and sticking to it.  Among those still in the planning phase of the Celebration Vacation, choosing the destination and travel dates is also challenging.

  • Regardless of the issues one might have faced, Celebration Vacations are extremely satisfying (96% Very/Somewhat Satisfied) to the point that most (92%) are likely to take one again in the near future.

A 10-minute online survey was conducted among adults aged 45+ who have taken at least one trip 50 miles or more away from home with a two-night stay in the past two years. The survey was in field from June 3 - 12, 2014 and a total of 1,222 surveys were completed. For more information, contact Allison Kulwicki at

AARP helps solve some of the pain points associated with planning for a Celebration Vacation.  For tips and ideas to plan a great Celebration Vacation, visit AARP Travel.


Suggested Citation:

Kulwicki, Allison. AARP Travel Research: Celebration Vacations. Washington, DC: AARP Research, July 2014.

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