Discover the world
It could fairly be said that the birth of backpacking and ‘‘travelling’’, in its freewheeling, adventureseeking, determinedly experiential sense took place in the sixties. Something about the open-endedness, bohemianism and freedom of such a style of travel was firmly in tune with the loosening of attitudes in general during those years. The sixties were the heyday of the baby boomers, of course, the same individuals who are now approaching retirement and entering their golden years. Research in the US (www.atme.org ) has indicated that, as we might expect, baby boomers have expectations relating to travel that differ significantly from previous generation of retirees, expectations that tie into their experiences of travel in their formative, younger years. The research, by Travel Marketing Decisions, came up with some key points: 1. Boomers consider travel a necessity, not a luxury. 2. Boomers have travelled more than their predecessors. As experienced travellers, they seek out more exotic destinations or more in-depth ways of experiencing familiar places. 3. Boomers want to have fun. Companionship, stimulation and the cultural/social experience make travel fun for boomers. 4. Boomers demand immediate gratification. They invented the question, ’’Are we there yet?" and have little patience for long, uninterrupted stretches of road time. 5 Boomers are not passive. They want a measure of control in designing their travel experience and, once on the road, they want to choose their activities. Boomers also crave the ’’local, human touch." 6. Boomers strongly perceive themselves as individuals, and therefore do not appreciate the ’’herding" experience of traditional group travel. 7. Boomers like creature comforts, despite expressing a desire for authenticity of experience. Food and accommodation needs to, ’’reflect the experience of a place without being down and dirty." 8. Boomers are sceptical of institutions and individuals. Resultantly they tend to actively and personally research their travel options before booking. Travel companies have obviously taken many of these messages on board, as we have seen an increase in the diversity of travel options over the past few years, with the notable expansion of small group, lightly structured adventure travel to destinations off the beaten track. Whatever your supposed demographic inclinations, however, and whatever your personal tastes, the open years of retirement provide the opportunity of extended travel to all who wish to get a taste of foreign shores. Why not think about a bit of sun, sand and sea this winter? It could be just the tonic.