Reimagine Everything: Time to Travel!

March 9, 2018 • AARP, Columnists

Ron Mori

By Ron Mori

Travel is the top aspirational activity for people 50-plus, according to research conducted by AARP. Analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that personal travel spend for the 50-plus population tops $125 billion per year and will grow as baby boomers have more time to travel.

Interestingly, recent research from the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off initiative finds:

  • Vacation days usage in this country has been steadily declining. Workers reported taking off just 16.2 days, almost a full week less compared to the pre-2000 average (20.3 days).
  • In 2016, 662 million vacation days were left on the table, four million days more than 2015.
  • Fifty-five percent of Americans do not use all of their earned time off, leaving 638 million unused vacation days.
  • Thirty-six percent of the 45-54 segment and 31 percent of the 55-plus segment reported a fear of returning to a mountain of work as the top reason for not taking time off (slightly less than the average of 37 percent).
  • Many Americans are foregoing their chance to renew and recharge, improve their mental and physical health, relationships and social life, as well as concentration and productivity.

Jan. 30 was National Plan a Vacation Day. I had good intentions of planning out my vacation for 2018 on National Plan a Vacation Day, but I fell into the trap of thinking that I had too much work to take a full two weeks off. Does this sound familiar?

Researchers have found that vacations are valuable for mental well-being and physical health. Also, studies found improved concentration and productivity. We should all start to view vacation time as a nonnegotiable — like your yearly physical checkup, it’s a vital part of your health care, so start treating it seriously.

A new AARP Travel Trends study found that baby boomers reported fewer vacation barriers heading into 2018 (20 percent report no barriers compared to 12 percent in 2017) with a stronger urge to relax and rejuvenate (up from 38 percent to 49 percent). This is all great news and should be a wake-up call if you’re like me and carried over vacation time into 2018.

Additional findings from the survey:

  • Boomers expect to take four or five leisure trips next year, spending an average of almost $6,400 on leisure travel in 2018 (most say this is the same or more than they spent in 2017). Millennials estimate they will shell out about $6,800 for vacations and Gen Xers $5,400.
  • More employed boomers will use all or most of their vacation time in 2018 than in 2017 (68 percent compared to 59 percent)
  • 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.

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 (an increase from 59 percent last year), 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.AARP’s travel tools are at travel.aarp.org, an integrated website for idea generation, planning and booking support to simplify travel for 50-plus Americans. Overall, the AARP Travel resources enable members and others to make the most of their travel experience. From now until March 31, AARP is giving away $10,000 to help make travel dreams come true. To enter the Great American Expedition Travel Sweepstakes, visit sweeps.aarp.org/entertravel2017.

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

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