retirees and travel: senior couple in new guinea with local
One truth about retirees and travel: they voyage year round

Retirees and travel are a perfect combination. Seniors have the free time to roam the world. And they generally have the budget to do so as well.

What month is a favorite for retirees and travel? What styles of travel do they like? How much do they spend on trips? Who do they love to vacation with?

A study by Virtuoso analyzed retirees and travel, comparing their preferences to other generations. The portrait that emerged reveals 9 key truths about older travelers.

Retirees travel year-round – but particularly in January.

Travelers who are still in the workforce are more time sensitive. They plan trips around their children’s school holidays and slow times at the office.

However, retirees have no time constraints. They can travel any time of the year. January is their busiest travel month, as it offers value for people who might be more conscious of spending. Low season for retirees and travel is high season for everyone else: the busy holiday months of November and December.

Retirees also go on longer trips than other generations, since they have the time and flexibility with their schedules.

Comfort is a top priority for retirees and travel.

Seniors want to enjoy new destinations and experiences. But they want an easy, comfortable travel style. They’re looking for shorter flights, business-class seating, fewer locations per trip and nicer accommodations.

At this point in their lives, older travelers want mental and physical comfort. They’re also willing to pay for it.

retirees and travel: senior couple with koala in tree
Retirees want to cross off bucket-list destinations when they travel

Retirees want bucket-list experiences.

Retirees remain curious about the world and crave visiting new destinations.

Some seniors were too busy with career and family to travel much in their younger years. Italy and France may still be on their bucket list. Other retirees may have crossed off popular destinations already. They’re seeking more exotic places such as Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

As long as they’re fit enough, retirees are enthusiastic about adventure travel. That could be anywhere from Machu Picchu to Antarctica.

Retirees spend more on travel than other age groups.

Travel factors significantly into the lives of today’s seniors. They want the best value for their money. And they can usually achieve that because of their flexibility with time. However, they also spend more on travel than any other generation: an average of $11,077 a year.

Pre-retirement clients are more budget conscious. Travel spending is lowest in the 30s, as people are building careers and families. It rises in the 40s and again in the early 50s.

There’s a brief pause where travel spending drops with 55 to 59 year olds, who are funding kids in college and saving for retirement. Then it rises to its highest level with the 75 to 79 age group. The 70 to 74 group is a close second.

Travel spending falls again for ages 80 to 84. However, they still spend more than people in their 30s, 40s or 50s.

Retirees fund multigenerational travels.

A big priority for retirees and travel is multigenerational trips. Seniors focus on time with their family in a relaxed environment. But time is limited for younger generations. Travel is one popular way multiple generations of a family can set aside time to be together.

Typically, the oldest generation pays for the trip. As a result, it’s generally more luxurious. Seniors seek comfort when they travel and have the money for it. Retirees book the trip well in advance to accommodate the younger generations’ busy schedules. Sometimes retirees will even skip their kids and just take one or more grandchildren.

A multigenerational trip is often an annual event in the same location, although some families choose different destinations. Popular locations: Italy and an African safari.

retirees and travel: couple in asia with street behind them
A great deal of advance planning goes into seniors’ worldwide travels

Retirees book travel well in advance.

Retirees book travel much further ahead than other generations. That’s because they have more free time and their schedules are more predictable. Planning a trip 18 months out is common.

Other generations may plan travel as little as one to three months in advance. They just don’t know what their schedules will look like six months or more down the road.

Retirees love to cruise.

Cruising is a perfect travel style for many retirees. It’s easy, predictable and comfortable. And it provides great value for the travel dollar. Yet seniors can explore new destinations and old favorites, and cross places off bucket lists.

No surprise that 42 percent of retirees’ annual spending on travel goes towards cruises. That’s almost double the amount of baby boomers, who are cruising’s second biggest demographic. Seniors enjoy both ocean and river cruises.

Retirees cruise year round, but especially in January – their favorite travel month. When other generations go on cruises, their preferences are more seasonal.

Because retirees seek comfort in their travel experiences, they’re more likely to choose a luxury cruise line and more spacious suites.

Retirees enjoy reading about travel.

Mature travelers really like to read about travel. They’re active on the internet and use travel sites as sources of information.

They’re especially drawn to printed materials. Retirees are more likely to receive, read and respond to travel collateral. That includes travel magazines, direct mail offers, and catalogs. Retirees appreciate the ideas and inspiration they get from print publications.

retirees and travel: senior couple with handler on elephant in zimbabwe
Retirees who work closely with their travel advisor enjoy experiences personalized for their tastes

Retirees are loyal to their travel advisors.

The mature generation is the most loyal to their travel advisors. They’re also the most likely to book repeat trips through them.

An MMGY Global study found 21 percent of matures used travel advisors at least once in a given year. Even more – 27 percent – planned to use one in the two years following the study.

Retirees understand the value of a travel advisor. They want to spend their considerable investment in travel wisely. Travel advisors are important to mature clients because:

  • They make personalized recommendations based on previous trips they’ve booked together
  • They design trips based on factors including a preference for comfort and their physical ability
  • They’re with clients during the entire process, from brainstorming ideas, to arranging details, to support during the trip, to debriefing afterwards

To reap the benefits of working with a travel advisor (no matter what age you are), visit to find one.

To find out more about how other generations travel, take a look at these posts:

5 Trends to Know Today About the Millennial Traveler

Baby Boomer Travel: Why and Where They Go

The Truth About How Different Generations Travel