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What Will Be the Top Travel Trends of 2017?

  • Jan Wlodarczyk/Alamy

    Latin America

    En español | Mexico (above) and the Caribbean, as well as Latin America, will be 2017’s most popular international destination for boomer travelers, according to a new AARP survey; 41 percent of respondents said they will visit those places. Boomer travelers planning a European trip, meanwhile, dropped 10 percentage points from 2016, to 34 percent.

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    95 percent of AARP survey respondents are planning to travel at home next year. The South and the West will draw the most visitors: 16 percent of domestic travelers surveyed have already chosen to visit Florida (Key West is shown here), while 11 percent are California-bound.

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    Some 48 percent of retirees 52 to 75 say they are interested in taking a cruise in the next two years, says travel-research firm MMGY Global. And we’re not talking just mega-ships; packaged-travel titan VBT reports rising demand for its bike-and-barge trips, limited to as few as 20 passengers.

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    Road trips

    Older travelers surveyed by MMGY are interested in driving getaways; one-third said they had taken a road trip in the previous 12 months. And the AARP survey shows that 21 percent of boomer travelers deterred by high airfares planned car trips instead.

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    On the grid

    Forty percent of boomers who are still working told AARP they won’t take all their vacation time in 2017. And when they do take time off, the same percentage feel obligated to stay in touch with their employer. Many respondents expect to spend at least 10 percent of their vacation time working.

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    Solo travel

    Older travelers with a passion for activity-specific trips are opting to journey alone, even when that means leaving a significant other at home. “Solo travelers make up one-third to one-half of every group on our U.S. tours,” says Kim Martin, director of marketing analytics for Vermont-based Country Walkers. “Most of these solo travelers are female, but don’t assume they’re single; they may be married but traveling alone, or with one or several friends.”

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    Roving with Rover

    More pet owners are taking to the road with their dogs. According to a 2016 survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), “37 percent of dog owners take their dog in the car with them, rather than leaving him behind when they travel.” That’s up from 32 percent in APPA’s 2014 survey — and double the rate of a decade ago. and others list dog-welcoming accommodations en route.

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    Wellness travel

    Health spas, fitness cruises, hot-springs resorts, ashrams, “soft adventure” trips such as hiking and cycling, and voluntourism — all considered wellness travel — will draw their biggest segment from those age 46 to 55 in 2017. “Baby boomers have always been the No. 1 bookers of wellness travel,” says Beth McGroarty of the Global Wellness Institute. “In fact, boomers invented this category.”

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    Boomers are increasingly seeking authentic local travel experiences. In AARP’s 2017 Travel Trends survey, half of all respondents reported they would like to eat a meal with locals in order to get a more accurate picture of a place, while 40 percent said they would like to tour with locals.

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