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AARP Travel Research: 2016 Travel Trends

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Top 2016 Boomer travel trends show that almost all will travel for leisure with about half traveling domestically only.

Key findings include:

Travel in 2016

  • Practically all Baby Boomers (99%) anticipate traveling for leisure in 2016, with approximately 4 or 5 trips in the works.

  • Many are planning both domestic and international trips (45%), with 5% planning international travel exclusively.

  • The desire to travel (aka vacation) comes down to three primary motivators:

    • To spend time with family and friends
    • To relax and rejuvenate
    • To get away from normal everyday life
       
  • Although many trips are anticipated for 2016, approximately one in ten (12%) are completely booked by September 2015, leaving opportunity to provide resources and guidance, specifically to the 48% for whom it is “still just an idea."

  • Baby Boomers do not appear to be overly concerned about budgeting for personal travel, nor are they hindered by the higher airfares (approximately two-thirds claim it has had no impact on their travel plans).

  • Among those with pets, few (5%) will travel with them ‘All the time.’  What they do tend to take with them on all trips are their medications, a comfortable pair of shoes, a camera, and sunglasses.  And different than the younger generations, Baby Boomers will also take a good book and emergency numbers.

  • And there is no surprise why personal travel is so prevalent, as travelers say that when they are on vacation they smile and laugh more, are more likely to learn something new, and have more time to spend with those they love.

Trip Details

  • Baby Boomers find lots of reasons to travel abroad, with the most popular trip types being Bucket List, Multi-Generational, or Summer Vacations.

    • Europe and the Caribbean and surrounding areas are key destinations for international travelers.
    • Final locations are equally likely to be a city, a beach, or on a cruise.

  • Of the 95% who will travel domestically in 2016, Summer Vacations, Multi-Generational trips, and Weekend Getaways are the primary impetus behind such plans.

    • Popular domestic destinations are either a city/town or a beach, with Florida, Las Vegas, California, New York and Hawaii being mentioned the most.

  • Hotels attract the most guests with a significant portion of domestic travelers (30%) planning to stay with friends and family.

General Travel Behaviors

  • Baby Boomers do not tend to linger in airports and are the least likely generation to take advantage of various airport amenities, with the exception of restaurants.

  • Offering free Wi-Fi and a complimentary breakfast can be a competitive advantage for hotels, as these are Boomers’ top two “must haves.”

  • Social media 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.

  • That said, the majority (83%) will stay connected to the outside world by keeping up with the news they get via TV and online.

  • US workers continue to behave differently than those in other countries, with only slightly over half (54%) citing they will use all of their vacation time in 2016.  And even then, when they do travel, one-third are likely to bring work with them, absorbing approximately 10% of their vacation time.

A 10-minute online survey was conducted among males and females age 18-plus who have taken at least one leisure trip in the past two years.  The survey was fielded in September 2015.  Final data have been weighted to the U.S. Census for analysis.  For more information contact Vicki Gelfeld at VGelfeld@aarp.org.

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