Baby Boomer: Gaining a Better Understanding of the World

Second in a series on traveling with a mission in Costa Rica by Doris Gallan.

Baby Boomers are quite different than Golden Agers in key areas of their lives which greatly impact what they want out of travel. As a group, they are better educated and more traveled – in other words, more worldly – than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. This means that they are less likely to be satisfied with traditional group tours, around active volcanoes, white sanded beaches or rain and cloud forest, in which visitors barely skim the surface of a location before moving on to the next one. Costa Rica, a Central American country, offers a diversity of locations to enjoy many different activities. It gives you the chance to grow by experiencing all of its diverse scenarios surrounded by the locals, also known as Ticos.

Constant exposure to new and changing situations in their daily lives translates into a need to keep their minds occupied. More and more Boomer travelers are looking for vacations with a mission that will expand their minds and provide a rest. They look for opportunities to: gain a better understanding of the world, improve on an existing or learn a new skill, trace their heritage, or do some volunteer work in an underdeveloped community.

Unless you are a couch potato (or an Internet potato) you need cerebral stimulation or you get bored pretty quickly. Of course, you need down time preferably away from cell phones, PDAs and e-mails and this can be built into vacations with a mission but several weeks of doing nothing but lying on a beach doesn’t hold much appeal for many.

You may wonder how planning and undertaking a trip to Costa Rica can give you a better understanding of the world, it’s such a small country and nothing ever happens there, you may be thinking. This Central American nation plays a much greater role on the world stage than you might imagine. The current president, Oscar Arias Sanchez, negotiated the peace accord between various countries in the 1980s for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

In planning your travels, you may want to delve into information beyond the country’s tourism web sites, guide books and travel agents’ brochures. In doing so, you are more likely to learn about politics, government, the arts (music, dance, painting, sculpture), how people work, live and play, belief systems (including religions, myths and superstitions), the languages, culture, history as well as what goes into food and beverages.

Relaxing while learning

Armed with this new knowledge, you become more sensitive to the subtle differences between Costa Rica and other Latin American countries which permits you to analyze what might be at the root of these variations. Are differences due to: Ticos being better educated than people from less developed countries? to the abolishment of the army in 1948 after the Civil War? to Costa Rica’s dependence on the USA for its security, exports (the world’s second largest computer chip manufacturing plant is here), and ex-pats who buy homes and land?

Boomer travelers wanting a mind-expanding experience may consider combining missions when they travel – over and above that of getting away from it all. For example, you will get a better understanding of Costa Rica if you come here to improve your Spanish. When you learn a new language you don’t just memorize a long list of words. You also gain knowledge of how that culture processes new ideas and how the people think. By living where the language is spoken, you become immersed – especially if you arrange for a home stay with local residents – in the culture, sports, politics, the issues affecting them, the economy, religion, family and much more.

In both the planning and the traveling you learn a lot about the part of the world you’ll be visiting. The knowledge you gain from your research and your stay in a foreign land gives you a better understanding of the country in question but also of the impact it has on surrounding nations and the world.


Doris is a Baby Boomer living in Costa Rica. She and her husband traveled around the world for 26 months visiting 40 countries on six continents (including Antarctica). You can read more about their travels and get travel tips at Follow Doris on twitter @dorisgallan.

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About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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