Boomers and Seniors: Time for a Vacation?

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 13 April 2009

More seniors face a longer time in the workforce as dreams of retirement fade, people of all ages worry about pending unemployment, and many have already received that fateful pink slip – maybe not the best time to plan that trip to Hawaii or Hong Kong. And yet, the gloom and doom of the daily news, the water cooler gossip about who’s next to go, and the ever-present “signs of the times” point to a tremendous need for an escape from the daily grind.

We need more than a couple squeezes of the stress relief ball. The little Zen garden with the rake thing? Not enough. At the time we need it most, a vacation is a dream that many won’t realize in the near term.

If you subscribe to any type of “travel deals” notifications, you’ve probably seen an increase in messages touting “half-price tickets” or “drastically reduced packages.” My husband heard that round-trip flights to Europe had dipped as low as $400 per person. Ironically, as travel companies offer enticing and highly affordable packages, most people can’t afford to spend the money or take the time off.

But even before the economy began to unravel, a 2007 survey indicated that “more than half of American workers fail to take all their vacation days. Thirty percent say they use less than half their allotted time. And 20% take only a few days instead of a week or two.”

We just don’t know how to relax. In Money vs. Time Off: Why We Don’t Take Vacations, the author suggests what gets in the way of a little zen: American individualism, job insecurity and office guilt, and keeping up with the Joneses. The pressure is on – in the workplace or at home. When we’re away from the office, we want to know what’s going on (hello, Blackberry?). We exchange time off for a bigger paycheck, so we can buy the latest gadget (ahem, Blackberry Storm?). If no one else takes a vacation in the office, who wants to be the “slacker” that does?

So maybe a luxury vacation isn’t in the cards until the economy improves, but boomers and seniors who have worked hard over the years deserve a break, and there are ways to do it without breaking the bank. White Star Tours specializes in budget vacations, along with packages geared specifically towards baby boomers. Their website is worth checking out — from creative category names like Canadian Bacon to information on becoming a group tour leader (how much fun would that job be??), White Star Tours is well-designed for this travel niche. There’s also Boomeropia, a travel site devoted to baby boomers, and Grandtravel, tailored to grandparents and grandchildren traveling together — both are excellent resources for this growing market.

Vacation is what you take when you can’t take what you’ve been taking any longer.- Author Unknown

What are your vacation plans? Have they changed because of the economy? Share your story here.

- Michelle Seitzer


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