The New York Times reports that over 50% of baby boomers are vaccinated as of April 2021 with numbers continuing to climb. As the first group to be vaccinated, this group of seniors who were most likely to take quarantine very seriously is excited to finally leave home for new adventures. AARP’s Travel Trends Survey found that 54% of boomers plan to take a trip in 2021.
Granted, planning a trip has gotten more time-consuming as travelers review safety protocols that change constantly. While people are more optimistic since the vaccines arrived, AARP reports that a whopping 23% of boomers scheduling a trip in 2021 did not venture far from home in 2020, limiting outside activity exclusively to trips for the necessities of life such as food, prescription drugs, and gas.
Not so surprisingly, many boomers are motivated to travel so they can reconnect with family and friends. Currently, domestic travel is far more attractive. Smart businesses in the travel industry are listening to boomers, offering fully refundable reservations that are in high demand during these uncertain times.
Covid-19 has definitely impacted the way boomers think about travel, favoring domestic trips and personalized experiences over crowded city tours and indoor attractions. Socially distanced travel is the new way forward offering a viable way to quench the boomers’ thirst for adventure in a risky world.
That new prioritization of safety explains why camping and road trips have suddenly spiked in popularity. Travel Awaits reports a significant 46.8% increase in RV sales in December 2020 as compared to December of 2019. RVs offer both adventure and the safety of a controlled environment. National parks, recreational areas, and campgrounds have become a focal point of new interest.
The allure of road trips that encourage stops along the way to experience quaint small towns and scenic views offers a pleasant and safe alternative to flying. Considering that many boomers are capable of working from the road, longer work/play vacations are more common. Senior travelers enjoy inserting themselves into the community and staying for as long as a month and sometimes longer to soak up the culture.
While large cruise ships are still under scrutiny by CDC and potential travelers alike, small river cruises are growing in popularity. These cruises are adding more destinations and routes to accommodate the growing demand. Smaller group tours and the elimination of buffets makes these cruises much more attractive during 2021.
There are travel restrictions by state and country that must be considered. These rules are updated on a regular basis.
As Covid-19 infection rates begin to decrease, states are beginning to reduce or eliminate travel restrictions altogether. As of the time of this article, Forbes reports that 40 states are completely open with no travel restrictions. Comparatively, the states of Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, Kansas, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C still have restrictions that complicate travel and deter visitors.
Anyone traveling domestically should check to see what the restrictions are in any state en route. It is noteworthy that some states have strict quarantine requirements that become cumbersome for travelers with a limited amount of time to spend in the state. For example, Oregon has a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for all travelers arriving in the state. Fortunately, vaccinated people are exempt from this requirement.
Kansas is an especially strict state with extremely specific travel requirements that detail countries and dates of travel that warrant a 10-day quarantine period. Other Kansas state rules recommend that travelers who have taken a cruise or have been in a crowd of 500 or more can get a test after six days in quarantine as a way to shorten the quarantine period.
Being fully vaccinated definitely buys domestic travelers out of a lot of the pain associated with required quarantines and tests in many states. Testing is another option for bypassing quarantine rules in most states.
Travelers should consult the State Department for updated travel advisories before traveling out of the country. It is noteworthy that many European countries are still off-limits to U.S. citizens as of the writing of this article. The European Union has indicated that they are likely to start accepting U.S. travelers who have been vaccinated by the summer of 2021.
When it is time to return home from a destination out of the country, American citizens are required to take a Covid-19 test. Before planning a trip abroad, remember that there are many strong Level-4 warnings published by the State Department against international travel at this time.
CDC’s Recommended Safety Tips
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published many safety tips that fuel boomer travel trends in 2021. CDC recommends getting vaccinated before traveling.
CDC also encourages travelers to take short road trips exclusively with household members or people who are vaccinated. If flying is a necessity, fly non-stop and avoid layovers. Long-distance bus, cruise, and train trips are discouraged.
CDC recommends staying in a house or cabin with fully vaccinated people or family members from your home. Visiting with family members or friends who are vaccinated while avoiding unvaccinated people is also considered a preferred way to travel. Less safe options that should not be considered when seeking accommodations are hotels, youth hostels, and B&Bs where groups of people mingle in common areas.
Rather than dine in a restaurant, bring food on your trip. Getting drive-thru or takeout food also provides low-risk alternatives. Eating outside where servers wear masks and social distancing is possible is yet another safe option.
While the face of travel has changed significantly during the Covid pandemic, vaccinated boomers are ready to venture out in new and safe ways. Smart travel industry leaders must continue to provide creative new solutions for seniors seeking to fulfill their wanderlust in safe ways.