Nobody benefits more from retiring baby boomers than the travel industry – with the exception of pharmaceutical companies, of course. This generation likes to be on the move and there seems to be no letting up. Cynics may say it’s all part of the last stand taken by a spoiled people that had it all and still refuses to accept its place in the twilight. There may be some truth to this, but I don’t think that’s the whole story.
Life Continues to Be a Great Adventure
As Long as We Can Imagine It that Way
Although, it is undoubtedly true that many of today’s retirees have more time and money available to them and can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle more easily than other demographic groups, there is also something new and original about the restless boomers that no other generation before them has displayed to such an extent: Boomers are a curious bunch. I mean that literally. Boomers just don’t settle down – not because they can’t afford to but because they don’t want to.
When asked which category of travel is in highest demand among the older clientele these days, travel agents will tell you that it’s not the luxury cruise or the tropical paradise any more but rather the explorer type expedition to some of the remotest places on planet earth. Instead of leisurely vacationing, there is now much more interest in issues of environment, climate change and endangered species.
Even more surprisingly, the real cutting edge destinations are now universities and other sites for scientific studies. Archeology, history and anthropology are high on the list of a new breed of excursionists. According to the New York Times, there is an ever greater demand for continued education among retirees who name “taking college-level classes again” as their main interest.
I few months ago, I tried myself to sign up for a few summer classes offered by Oxford University in England. No luck! Most of them were booked long in advance and not by regular students but by retirees, many from the U.S., who wanted to experience once more (or, perhaps, for the first time) the pleasures of learning. Trust me, a good education is not wasted on the old!
There are many more who take up teaching too. Droves of retired academics, engineers, doctors and entrepreneurs use their “vacations” to pass their professional knowledge and skills on to students in many countries that need them desperately. There are actually agencies operating now who specialize in guiding these traveling volunteers to places where they are the most needed.
For many of these active retirees it is the second time around since their first stint in the Peace Corps. That spirit of generous giving and making oneself useful in the world is apparently very much alive among those who followed President Kennedy’s call to action in the early Sixties. Their past experiences have left an indelible mark on those who lived through them – and they continue to bear fruit even today. Exploring the world, searching for the next frontier, experimenting with new ideas and venturing into the unknown is still at the core of this generation’s identity. Curious minds don’t easily grow old. If there is anything younger generations can learn from the boomers, it is to never let go of great expectations.
And why should they think otherwise? The average health and longevity of large parts of today’s population have so significantly improved that there are many more prospects in life now than any generation before us has ever experienced.
Of course, the possibilities of old age are not the same for everyone. It’s a bit like retirement itself: The better one is prepared, the better it will be. Those who have been curious, creative and engaged throughout their lifetime will find many more outlets for their undiminished energy and entrepreneurial spirit. For them, life continues to be what it always has been – an exciting adventure to be pursued forever…