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Bucket List: Boomers Find Many Ways to Travel

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Baby Boomers blaze trails. They had children later, got more education, retire later (or earlier and launch a second career), work out, live longer and expect to travel.

Travel is not a luxury but a necessity in their lives. So when Boomers choose a vacation, it can be all over the map – literally and figuratively.

rock climber

There is no “Top 10 Boomer vacation hot spots” list because Boomers have a variety of interests, and they don’t always take the traditional approach when it comes to vacationing. Let’s look at some of the ways Boomers enjoy their time away.

Ecotourism. Many Boomers are finding that vacation time is a great time to walk on the wild side. Through programs such as the National Wildlife Federation’s Expeditions program, Boomers can get up close and personal with nature, observing the habitat of bald eagles in Tennessee or participating in a safari photo junket in Tanzania. Other popular spots are the Canadian Rockies, where grizzlies and glaciers and castle-like hotels offer a smorgasbord for the senses.

Culinary and wine tours. And speaking of smorgasbord, Boomers love fine wine and delicious food. Tours of the Tuscany region in Italy or the Napa Valley in California often center around wonderful food and great wine tasting. Some luxury cruise lines have recently developed culinary cruises that are popular with Boomers.

Voluntourism. Vacations for charitable or humanitarian purposes are on the rise. Boomers who want to give back, immerse themselves in a culture and have something to show for their two weeks away may find themselves building latrines in Honduras or houses in Sri Lanka. They may rise at 6 a.m., breakfast on tortillas and beans, dig holes in the hot sun all day and do it all over again the next 11 days with a smile on their faces.

Educational travel. Whether taking part in archaeological digs in the Southwest (through the USDA Forest Service Passport in Time program), perfecting a souffle in a Cordon Bleu school, taking an art class in Santa Fe, N.M., or learning Spanish in Spain, Boomers can’t get enough learning.

Nostalgia trips. Boomers who backpacked across Europe during college are revisiting their old haunts, with a fatter wallet and a desire to reawaken some old memories. Others opt for never-seen but nostalgic road trips along Big Sur or Route 66.

Spiritual renewal. Some Boomers are using their vacation time to enjoy spiritual and meditation retreats in places like Tibet, New Mexico and California. Some retreats have spa atmospheres with lectures, massages and healthy meals, while others offer more Spartan, ashram-like surroundings. Others opt for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a tour of monasteries or a trip to the Vatican in Rome.

Adventure and fitness. Hiking in Colorado, backpacking Yosemite or along the Appalachian Trail, canoeing/kayaking in the lakes in the Adirondacks, rafting the Grand Canyon, scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, playing golf and tennis in South Carolina, biking tours through Vermont, fly fishing in Montana, horseback riding in Wyoming, and bird watching in Alaska – for those with an appetite for adventure, these are the trips of choice.

Medical tourism. Because of rising healthcare costs, many Boomers are opting to travel out of the country for some procedures, saving thousands and taking on a little sightseeing in the bargain. Caution is advised for those considering favorite medical tourism sites, such as Singapore, Thailand, India, Mexico, Turkey and Brazil.

Relaxation. For relaxation, Boomers opt for cruises (Alaskan cruises are especially popular); St. John, Virgin Islands, where some resorts offer adult-only options for peace and quiet; Bali, Indonesia; and the Big Island of Hawaii, which offers vast geographical variety and a much slower, quieter pace.

The only thing that can be said for certain about a Boomer vacation is this: Just like a Boomer, it’s bound to blaze new trails.


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Arlene Campbell |  Assistant Controller
Paralyzed Veterans of America