Doris Gallan and her Niece Ziplining
Last of a series of Baby Boomers Traveling in Costa Rica by Doris Gallan
Whatever it is in our genetic make-up that compels us to travel has nothing to do with age. But some of our needs are definitely age-driven and our world views were certainly shaped by the times we grew up in. As the first generation to be raised in front of television sets, we could study foreign countries, cultures, languages and people on a daily basis long before we left home for our first backpacking adventures. Enjoying of beautiful locations such as white sanded beaches, rain and cloud forest is not all. For Boomer travelers learning a new skill, making the world a better place or gain a better understanding of the world might be more interesting than all the tourist related activities.
In my travels through 49 countries I have met hundreds of travelers, older and younger, who have shared their journeys, desires, needs and complaints. I got the idea of writing a book aimed at the Baby Boomer (B.B.) cohort as a way of presenting how we can benefit from the wisdom of both while avoiding the pitfalls they might experience based, in part, on age. There is as much to learn from a 25-year-old backpacker who’s been on the road for six months as there is from an older sojourner who has visited every continent.
At times, Baby Boomers share more similarities with their elders resulting in the travel industry – as well as youths – lumping us with the Golden Agers, much to our consternation. More often than not, I’ve found that we have a lot in common with younger generations and that travel unites us in a shared understanding of the thrills of the adventure. Here are my observations on similarities and differences between my generation and younger and older travelers:
1. Baby Boomers are very much take-charge people which means they won’t relegate all of the planning for a trip to tour or cruise companies like their elders might. This need to be in control is a characteristic also found in many Gen X and younger travelers.
2. B.B. have traveled much more than earlier generations and so have a better idea of what they are looking for out of their travels than older travelers. They also seek more out-of-the-way locations as they’ve already done the usual youthful journeys. Gen X and younger are still traveling the Gringo Trail of Latin America (thousands are on it as we speak), the Hippy Trail of India, Nepal and the Himalayas, and the usual European circuit.
3. My generation needs more comforts than twenty years ago when sleeping on a friend’s floor was a great alternative to paying for a hostel but don’t necessarily need top-notch hotels.
4. We tend to be more cautious than younger travelers – don’t get as involved in the club scene, bars and drugs – but aren’t as timid as the older set and will speak out when we feel we might be in danger or are being ripped off.
5. Baby Boomers have more time and money than youths as their jobs and children require less of both and usually don’t have to worry about outliving their savings (at least, not yet) as seniors might.
6. Studies have shown that this is the fittest middle-aged generation ever and so Boomers have more energy and stamina than their elders. While we might not be able to keep up with the twenty- and thirty-somethings, we’re still zip lining in Costa Rica, climbing Machu Picchu, walking the Great Wall of China, hiking in Antarctica, and diving at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. I know because I’ve done each of these activities during the past couple of years and there were many, many others my age doing it along with me.
We are in the unique position of having the time, money, energy and health to travel which comes from the stage of life we find ourselves in. We can adopt the best attitudes of both younger and older travelers while enjoying the best times in our lives to travel.
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 www.dorisgallan.com. Follow Doris on twitter @dorisgallan.