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Senior Travel Trends: A New Approach to Bucket List Travel

“Cabin fever has taken hold for many Americans after a grueling year,” says Matt Thompson, director of partnerships for RVezy, an RV rental marketplace. Company research found that 63% of Americans of all ages, and 49% of those 65 and older, plan to take a summer vacation this year. 

Let’s take a look at the items appearing most on travel bucket lists in 2021. 

5 Travel Trends for 2021

Here are five trends experts says are influencing travel decisions this year:

  1. Domestic Bucket List Destinations. “Travelers are booking longer vacations to celebrate missed milestones like anniversaries and birthdays, many of which are bucket list experiences, like coast-to-coast vacations including stops at America's incredible National Parks, iconic cities and more,” reports Jim Marini, vice president, Amtrak Vacations. According to Amtrak bookings, the top post-pandemic travel destinations include Glacier, Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks.
  2. New Form of Group Travel. Traditional tour group travel is being replaced with groups limited to people in our COVID bubble or pod. “We run group trips that are an easy way for friends to meet up and go on an adventure together,” explains Sara Baer-Sinnott, president of Oldways, provider of chef-led culinary travel tours. “Shorter travel time means more quality time together - something we've all missed terribly over the past year.”
  3. RV Trips. “Now that traveling is opening back up, we are given the green light to proceed, but we must proceed with caution,” says travel expert Ravi Roth, CEO of Ravi Round the World. Roth is one of 18 million Americans making their first RV trip this summer, according to RVezy data. “Instead of flying all around the United States, I’m doing a road trip with my Dad. We are able to see a vast majority of the country in a safe and responsible way. The conversations, sights and sounds are invaluable.”
  4. Multi-Generational Travel. With many grandparents having been separated from their precious grandbabies for so long, experts expect a rise in “skip-gen” travel, where parents are left home as the older and younger generations head off together. This development is giving rise to “gramping”, tent or RV camping with the elders, which respondents to the RVEzy survey ranked as the least risky travel accommodation.
  5. Service or Impact-Based Experiences. “COVID-19 has given many people the space to reflect, take a step back and look at the bigger picture,” says Simon Birkenhead, CEO of International Volunteer HQ, a tour company that helps volunteers make a positive impact while they travel. “The desire for a new kind of travel has emerged from the pandemic -- one that allows space for authentic cultural immersion, where we are fully present and are able to enjoy travel at a slower pace.”

Why Travel Is Important

Smart and safe travel is good for us.

“After this past year, many are yearning for the fulfillment and joy that comes from discovering a new setting or returning to a beloved spot away from home,” Baer-Sinnott notes. “Seeing the world gives them meaning, energizes them and is a respite from their daily routines." 

Mariani agrees: “Travel makes us feel alive. Its benefits include allowing us to enjoy new and different locations and experiences, relax and focus on the things we enjoy seeing and doing, and spend time with our loved ones reflecting, sharing stories, and creating new memories.”

Even if you don’t actually go somewhere, making a plan reaps benefits, too. 

“People can get an extraordinary amount of joy out of preparing for and looking forward to a trip, and there is even science to back this up,” Baer-Sinnott notes. “A recent study showed that anticipation for an experiential purchase -- like a trip -- can bring someone more happiness than anticipation for other types of purchases.”

So take another look at your bucket list of post-COVID travel destinations and take action.

“The future is unpredictable,” Birkhead says. “We don’t know what’s around the corner, so go now and make the most of it!”

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