Why Your 50s is the Prime Time to Visit Bucket List Destinations

A new AARP report shows that many 50-year-olds plan to travel the globe this year.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Older couple on vacation

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If you think travel is a young person’s game, think again. Wanderlust doesn’t dissipate with age, even though the image of the young adult traveler in their 20s and 30s holds sway in the media. As it turns out, older Americans are primed for travel and, in many instances, are checking off bucket list destinations at rates far higher than their younger jet-setting counterparts.

According to a new study from AARP, people in their 50s are planning to travel this year, and they’re planning to spend a significant chunk of change to do it. Fifty-somethings are ready, willing, and able to travel — empty nesters likely have fewer obligations at home and more disposable income thanks to decades of working, plus plenty of PTO!

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
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An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

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Travel in your 50s is for bucket list destinations

BillionPhotos.com/Adobe A man and a woman walk down the beach in an embrace

For its annual Travel Trends report, AARP surveyed almost 2,000 people about their travel plans for this year. They found that nearly two-thirds of those over 50 planned to travel in the upcoming year, and not just once — the average number of expected trips sits at 3.6.

A significant number of travelers aren’t just planning a jaunt to the closest beach or national park, either. Seventy-five percent of travelers in their 50s have travel bucket lists, and almost a quarter of travelers have international destinations on their itineraries.

Travelers in their 50s are also opting for more unique destinations — 29% are eschewing familiar tourist spots in favor of more remote or “off the beaten path” destinations.

Not only are 50-somethings hitting the road or flying the friendly skies, but they’re also planning on spending a significant amount of money to make their travel dreams come true. The average travel budget is $6,659 per trip.

Don’t put your travel dreams on hold

Goffkein/Adobe retired couple enjoying beach vacation

Though travelers will likely have more cash to spend in their 50s than in their 20s, there’s a trade-off. More than 10% of 50+ travelers will require some sort of accommodation, mainly for mobility issues, on their trips this year. Travelers who require accommodations for a disability are more likely only to travel domestically and have less available cash to spend on trips.

How to keep costs low

Kittiphan/Adobe couple checking bills taxes

High travel costs are also a factor, and prices aren’t expected to drop any time soon. Half of those planning trips in 2024 say they plan to spend more than on previous trips not because of more luxurious destinations but because of increased costs for fuel and lodging — only 14% said they were planning to upgrade their trips, while 69% said transportation costs more and 60% said lodging would be more costly than in previous years.

To save money on your 2024 travel, try to book flights at least 42 days in advance, take advantage of the top travel credit cards or airline miles, and be sure to compare hotel and car rental services.

Bottom line

Jade Maas/peopleimages.com/Adobe mature couple enjoying beach vacation

Getting older doesn’t mean staying home. People in their 50s are building a life where they can travel more and check off those bucket list destinations. Those who aren’t traveling in 2024 are staying home mostly because of the expense involved in travel. For the first time in years, however, COVID-19 is barely on the radar, with only 7% of non-travelers listing the virus as a reason to avoid travel.

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