AARP Travel Survey Reveals Baby Boomers Most Concerned About Health Issues, Cost

By Abbey Zartman

A recent AARP survey reveals that baby boomers continue to be avid travelers, planning to take roughly five leisure trips in 2019 on which they will spend close to $7,000. A small portion will only travel internationally while the rest are fairly evenly split between traveling only domestically and traveling both domestically and internationally.

Here’s some other highlights:

• Boomers are planners and like to book trips far in advance.
• Prefer to get insight from locals for tips on restaurants and excursions.
• Traveling with a smartphone is a must. Among those who do travel with their smartphone, most say they “can’t travel without it.” The top use for taking phones while on vacation is for photo opportunities.
• Boomers avoid “bleisure” trips (combining business and pleasure). Most do not feel it is important to stay connected to work while they are away. Among those who will bring work with them, it will not consume much of their vacation time.
• Biggest travel concerns for boomers is cost and health issues.

Travel Advice For Boomers

Matt Phillips, a spokesperson for AARP, was a recent guest on the podcast “Tips & Trips” to discuss some of the latest travel trends. He offered the following tips for those considering a trip:

1. Find Travel Deals

When it comes to travel deals, AARP members can get access to discounts. Here are just a few AARP travel suppliers listed on the organization’s website:

American Airlines: Discounts are available for 65 and older.
Amtrak: 62 and older receive a discount of 15 percent.
Aloft Hotels: AARP discount saves 5 percent to 15 percent on your next stay..
Avis Rent A Car: AARP discount for 50-plus means a free weekend day and additional offers.
Best Western: AARP discount saves 10 percent and earns10 percent bonus points on your stay.
British Airways: Discounts offered to 50 and older that range between $65 and $200 per flight.
Budget Rent-A-Car: AARP discount receives one rental day free with an intermediate through a full-size four-door car for three consecutive days, including a Saturday night.
Carnival Cruise: Exclusive discount is offered for 55 and older; call ahead, savings vary.
Choice Hotels: 60-plus can save up to 10 percent with advance reservations.
Comfort Inn: AARP discount saves up to 10 percent off the best rate available.
Collette: AARP discount saves $50 to $100 per person off guided tours.
Grand Canyon National Park: AARP discount saves 15 percent off stand-alone stays at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel.
Grand Canyon Railway: AARP discount saves 15 percent on Grand Canyon by Rail.

Also, Phillips reminds travelers to consider joining any loyalty programs offered by their favorite travel brands, like Hilton Honors or Wyndham Rewards. These reward programs can help regular participants enjoy perks, possibly discounted rooms or upgrades.

2. Consider New Destinations

During the podcast interview, Phillips discussed how many boomers are looking for new places to visit. And, when it comes to domestic travel, there is a growing interest in exploring the outdoors.

“A couple of years ago the national parks service celebrated its 100 year anniversary. We still see that our members continue to gravitate towards parks. It has always been a popular destination,” says Phillips.

Also, there is a growing interest in visiting not just major parks — like Yellowstone — but smaller parks, too. River cruising and more exotic destinations, like Egypt, are also growing in popularity.

3. Try TSA Pre-Check

AARP says planning in advance is key, especially for those with special requirements. Phillips is a big fan of TSA pre-check, a service offered by the Transportation Security Administration that cuts down on airport security wait times. With a 5 year, $85 membership, travelers can speed through security and don’t have to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. (Source: TSA.org)

4. Travel Healthy, Consider Travel Insurance

Finally, make sure you are healthy enough to travel when you leave home. In addition, consider travel insurance that includes trip cancellation, emergency medical coverage, and emergency medical evacuation coverage. “Know what additional coverage you need and identify any gaps. All of that is very important,” says Phillips.

Note: In general, Medicare does not cover medical costs overseas (Source: US State Department).

Travel Resources:
AARP — for travel discounts and travel resources.
US State Department — for the latest safety news and information on how to travel abroad. Travelers can also enroll in the STEP program.
World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  — for vaccination requirements for Americans traveling abroad.
Rick Steves —  a site geared for older Americans considering trips to Europe.
Clark Howard — a site that provides money tips.
Consumer Reports — for unbiased information on travel products and services.

Abbey Zartman is the host of “Tips and Trips“,  an informative travel podcast by InsureMyTrip, an unbiased resource for travel insurance. This season’s episodes include interviews with travel experts and representatives from AARP, The American Red Cross, and others.