For many, retirement brings the simple, but glorious,
promise of more time. More time to cook, to learn a new
skill, or to travel the world.
To tap into the desires of the more travel-prone set,
local senior centers now offer trips designed with baby boomers in
mind. The City of Port Washington Adult Community Senior Center, for
example, hosts extended tours throughout the year, to both national
and international destinations. This year’s calendar includes fall
trips to Michigan and New Mexico, and 2020 features tours to
Portugal, Scandinavia, Croatia and the French Riviera.
Similarly, the Brookfield Senior Community Center
hosts monthly bus tours to destinations throughout the state. A wine
tour of northeast Wisconsin is scheduled for later this month, while
September promises a two-hour, narrated tour of Lake Geneva.
With their travelers’ well-being in mind, most tours
call out special considerations, such as uneven walking surfaces, to
best prepare seniors for their time away.
Lisa Glenn, a City of Brookfield employee who
coordinates the tours, says the City has offered such trips since
the ’70s. Each tour attracts, on average, about 40 to 50 people,
including some non-Brookfield residents. “We [also] do a lot of
dinner theater trips,” Glenn adds, noting that attendees enjoy the
tours’ convenience and sociability. “Those are still popular with
the seniors who skew a little older. They’re a little less rigorous
for people who have mobility issues.”
Enlisting the help of a travel agent or excursion
specialist may avoid unwelcome surprises — some of which could be
detrimental to seniors’ safety — when traveling abroad.
Julie Karp, who owns Milwaukee-based travel company
ShoreTrips with her husband, Barry Karp, recalls a recent booking
that involved elderly clients hoping to tour the Palace of the Popes
in Avignon, France. Having visited the destination years earlier,
Julie knew the palace’s steep, railless stairs weren’t
senior-friendly, so she recommended an alternative tour to a nearby
town. Her clients still purchased the palace tour, says Julie, but
did so knowing its physical demands. “That’s really how we see our
roles — as the eyes and ears. To make sure that, when you have the
chance to do something, it’s the right thing,” she adds, noting they
travel to every city they sell before offering it to their clients.
“We try to make things easier for the elderly,” says Barry, citing
ShoreTrips’ airport services as an example. “We have systems
throughout the world where we’ll pick up clients at the gate, either
by golf cart or by automobile that’s on the tarmac.”
A growing phenomenon among retirees and seniors is
multigenerational travel, Barry continues, in which grandparents are
treating their children and grandchildren to a family trip. “There’s
a group of 12 or 13 people traveling together, and the grandparents
pay for everything,” he explains, insisting clients plan a
well-researched itinerary when traveling with children. The Karps
have traveled the world with their own children, and often suggest
family-friendly excursions that are both culturally stimulating and
relaxing — sure to challenge children to learn something new and
perhaps make them feel a bit uncomfortable, but not push their
limits or compromise their safety. “Travel is the connecting force
in this world,” adds Julie.
To ensure travel and its benefits are accessible for
all, many Milwaukee area senior living communities also provide
residents with local — and senior-friendly — travel options. The
Laureate Group, for example, transports residents to the West Allis
Farmers Market during the summer months, and offers outings to
museums and performing arts venues. Eastcastle Place hosts
restaurant, symphony and theater outings for its residents too, and
Heritage Senior Living features a Wisconsin-themed monthly calendar
filled with community events.
Catholic Home even recently launched a new program, A Life Engaged,
to extend its reach to seniors outside its communities. Upcoming
events include a Fall Harvest Festival on Oct. 10, and a 10-day trip
to Ireland in April of 2020. To learn more, visit
The Bucket List
With plenty of leisure time and most major life
expenses accounted for, many seniors prefer to travel as much as
they are able. According to the website Suddenly Senior, senior
citizens represent a staggering 80 percent of all luxury travel
purchased in the U.S., making up 65 percent of all cruise passengers
and typically spending
74 percent more on vacations than the 18- to
49-year-old population segment. Here are more eye-opening facts from
AARP’s 2018 Travel Survey:
• Baby boomers expect to take four or five leisure trips a year,
spending almost $6,400 annually on travel expenses.
• 49 percent expect to only travel domestically.
Florida and California are the most popular U.S. destinations.
• 47 percent plan to travel domestically and
internationally. Top choices for those going abroad: the Caribbean,
Latin America and Europe.
• For those who travel in the U.S., most trips entail
summer vacations, multi-generational travel or weekend getaways.
About 66 percent of boomers travel domestically by plane and 60
percent by car.
• 22 percent of boomers say that going abroad is a
“bucket list” trip.
• Seniors are rethinking the travel guide. For those
traveling abroad, mature travelers increasingly prefer touring with
a local to experience a new destination — 49 percent in 2018
compared with 40 percent in 2017.
• About 57 percent of boomers travel to spend time
with family and friends, the same amount as last year. Forty-nine
percent say they travel to relax and rejuvenate — up from 38 percent
in 2017. Forty-seven percent seek getaway from everyday life — up
from 39 percent in 2017.
• On arrival, 62 percent of boomers stay in hotels or
motels, preferring amenities like concierge and room service,
offered at a hotel. Ten percent opt for Airbnb or VRBO types of
accommodations, while 6-8 percent prefer bed-and-breakfasts.
• Cruises make up more than one-third of
international travel for seniors.
Source: Vicki Geller/AARP Travel Research: 2018 Travel Trends.