Fifty-plus travelers are the lifeblood of the travel industry accounting for 48 percent of all vacation expenditures, according to Media Post. As such, boomers are driving many of the trends in travel. Here are three of the hottest types of travel in 2014.
Peer to Peer travel, often called “couchsurfing” is an often more affordable alternative to hotels, car rentals and tours that has been gaining in popularity for a number of years. P2P allows individuals to rent out their homes or their vehicles or provide personalized tours all via the Internet.
While hotels, bed and breakfasts and tour companies provide worry-free travel, P2P has its advantages as well. Often people who are willing to rent out their homes or give insider tours are doing it for the extra income, but proponents of P2P travel say their hosts enjoy the one-on-one connection with travelers from across the world and are eager to share the nuances of their region.
Here are a few websites and organizations specializing in P2P to check out:
• Airbnb.com – offers fee-based rentals in 192 countries around the world.
• Couchsurfing.com – a social network of fellow travels who establish free reciprocal accommodations.
• Friendship Force International (www.friendshipforce.org) – a worldwide home-hospitality organization that pairs local hosts with international travelers to share homes, meals and culture. Friendship Force was founded in 1977 by Wayne Smith and supported by Pres. Jimmy Carter.
For the adventure travel market, the 50-plus generation is a prime market. Many boomers who are in as good shape or better than they were in their 20s, yearn to explore exotic destinations or whittle down their bucket lists.
For those adventurers, National Geographic lists these excursions among its “Ultimate Adventure Bucket List” trips:
• Surf the “mother of big wave breaks” at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu.
• Bungee jump, hang glide or sky dive in the epicenter extreme airborne sports, Queenstown, New Zealand.
• Hike the storied Appalachian Trail, the oldest of the great, long distance hiking trails.
• Ski Alaska’s Denali, the tallest mountain in North America.
• Camel trek over an ancient caravan route through the desert in Morocco.
• Climb Java’s volcanos.
• Dive with the hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.
• Complete the Explore Sweden adventure race that features numerous disciplines such as mountain biking, rappelling, swimming, sailing, kayaking and more, through Sweden’s mountain peaks and river valleys.
If you prefer a more organized, group adventure, try the annual Global Scavenger Hunt where teams travel to 10 countries around the world to complete hands-on culturally-oriented tasks. It’s Indiana Jones meets the Amazing Race.
For more information, visit www.globalscavengerhunt.com and adventure.nationalgeographic.com.
CONNECTED TO PLACE
Studies indicate that travel is a high priority to mid-lifers. At the half-century mark, boomers say they are looking for a meaningful mix of mind, body and soul-enriching, experiences.
When this generation hits the road, many of its members want to practice digital photography in the Brazilian rain forest or volunteer at a wildlife preserve in Kenya. For instance, Road Scholar, a travel company specializing in educational adventure vacations, offers a tour of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos that features a visit a Laotian school and village to learn about the lives of students and residents; cooking classes and local meals with lemongrass, chili and sticky rice; and an overnight cruise on Halong Bay introduces one of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
For more information, visit www.roadscholar.org.