Reimagine Everything: Study on 2018 Travel Trends

June 1, 2018 • AARP, Columnists

By Ron Mori

Ron Mori

Pura vida. I heard it throughout my recent family trip to Costa Rica. By the second day, I understood what the locals meant by pura vida, which roughly translates to “pure life, simple life,” and as I found out, it’s more than a phrase and more a way of life throughout Costa Rica.

A recent AARP Travel survey reveals some noteworthy trends in preferences and other areas regarding travel. For one: The survey found that people are increasingly wanting their trips to be true escapes that leave them feeling recharged. This certainly applied to our family with the end of the school term and a chance to break away from work.

Survey Results

Just what motivates people to hit the road? About 57 percent of Boomers travel to spend time with family and friends, the same amount as last year. But in this new survey, 49 percent of Boomers say they travel to relax and rejuvenate (up from 38 percent in 2017), and 47 percent are looking for a getaway from everyday life (up from 39 percent).

For those who travel in the U.S., trips are mostly summer vacations, multigenerational travel or weekend getaways. About 66 percent of Boomers travel domestically by plane and 60 percent by car.

For Boomers, going abroad is more likely a “bucket list” trip (22 percent), the online survey found. As for ways to experience a new destination, increasingly travelers abroad like the idea of touring with a local in 2018 (49 percent) compared to 40 percent in 2017, the study revealed.

Destinations and Experiences

The year ahead looks like a busy one for many Boomers­ — and they are still making plans:

  • 47 percent plan to travel domestically and internationally. Top choices for those going abroad: the Caribbean/Latin America and Europe.
  • Just 23 percent of international trips and 13 percent of domestic travel have been booked for 2018. Of those still planning, 75 percent have chosen their destination abroad, and 72 percent of those traveling in the U.S. know where they want to go.

Consider the Following:

  • The percentage of Boomers saying they travel to relax and rejuvenate jumped from 38 percent to 49 percent.
  • Seventy-four percent of employed Millennials with paid time off expect to bring work along on a trip, compared to 56 percent of Boomers.
  • In the international travel arena, touring with a local is increasingly appealing.

The Question of Unplugging

The AARP 2018 Travel Trends survey discovered that some attitudes toward vacation varied by age. While 68 percent of employed Boomers with paid time off anticipate taking all or most of their employer-provided days off in 2018, 79 percent of Millennials expect to use all/most of theirs. Boomers don’t often mix business with pleasure. Just 25 percent of these Boomers tacked on an extra day or two to a business trip for themselves last year, but 40 percent of Gen Xers and 53 percent of Millennials did.

What about unplugging while away? It can be hard to go off the grid, but just how hard varies by generation, among those who are working and have vacation days.

  • Seventy-four percent of Millennials expect to bring work along on a trip; 65 percent of Gen Xers plan to do the same; but just 56 percent of Boomers are likely to work while out of the office.
  • Of those Boomers who do expect to work on vacation, most try to limit it to just 10 percent of their leisure time.
  • When asked if it was “extremely/very important” to stay connected with their employer during vacation, 47 percent of Millennials said yes; while just 33 percent of Gen Xers and 16 percent of Boomers agreed it was a high priority.
  • My parting advice is to unplug, plan ahead and recharge this summer. AARP travel resources will help you plan, research and save money on your vacation. Visit aarp.org/travel, and finally, pura vida!

Ron Mori is a member of the Washington, D.C., JACL chapter and manager of community, states and national affairs — multicultural leadership for AARP.

adult image upload