Annual AARP Snapshot of Older Travelers

Published in RINewsToday on April 17, 2023

Older travelers are gearing up for their big adventures with summertime just around the corner.  Continued inflation combined with sky-high flight costs won’t deter these individuals from planning family travel, according to a newly published AARP report. AARP’s 2023 Travel Trends survey (initially begun in 2015) examines the travel behaviors, expectations, and planning among adults.  

According to AARP’s survey findings released last week, three out five people 50-plus surveyed said they anticipate traveling in 2023 – similar to the results of last year’s travel survey. In 2015, an AARP travel research study found that found that road trips in particular are a great way to discover new adventures and connect with loved ones while still being affordable. This continues today, researchers say, noting that seniors will travel and want to save on costs. Many have found road  trips offer the flexibility and freedom they seek, they note.

Gearing up for big travel adventurers

As older travelers gear up for their big travel adventurers, similar to last year, more than half the trips anticipated in 2023 are either booked or in the planning stages, says the AARP travel study, noting that among those planning 84% have selected a destination, significantly less that what was reported in 2019 (89%).

The researchers say that road trips fulfill older travelers’ top motivation for travel in 2023, to spend more time with family and friends. They offer a set of unique benefits over other forms of travel, such as the ability to visit local attractions on the way, experience local food and culture and enjoy scenic routes on the drive.  

“Though costs are higher than normal this year, older adults are once again eager to travel. Our research shows that travel is at the top of their priority lists,” says Patty David, AARP Vice President of Consumer Insights, announcing the 2023 travel survey results on April 12, 2023.  “And, with the ability to bring family members along, many find road trips to be a budget-friendly choice as well as a fun one. Multi-generational road trips can improve emotional well-being, increase connections with loved ones, and benefit overall energy,” she says. 

Throughout the 45-page report, the researcher’s findings painted a picture about the travel habits providing interesting tidbits of information about the travel habits of seniors. For instance, most older travelers (85%) rank travel in their top three priorities for discretionary spending, significantly higher than other kinds of expenses. The findings also suggested that family trips are seniors number one motivator for domestic travel this year, ranking well above solo vacations. 

For 2023, 61% of travelers anticipate domestic-only travel. 50% of their domestic trips will be by car this year, compared to 43% in 2022.  Even with the high price of gas.  

Traveling at home or abroad

Domestic travelers plan to take more trips to the U.S. South (38%) and West (31%) than other parts of the country. The most popular destinations in 2023 are Florida (15%), California (8%), Las Vegas (7%), Texas (4%), Arizona (4%) and New York (4%), notes the AARP travel study.

When traveling overseas, air travel still remains the most popular mode of transportation (69%). Fewer 50 plus travelers will be booking passage on a cruise ship (down 9% from last year’s travel study). For those cruising, 70% say they enjoy seeing multiple locations.

The researchers found that seniors seeking to travel overseas are making their travel plans earlier in the year in 2023. They found that Europe (42%) still remains the most planned international designation, followed by Latin America/Caribbean (33%). This year’s travel survey reported that the most popular destinations attracting older travelers are Italy (8%), Great Britain (7%), France (7%), Ireland (4%), and Germany (3%).  For those attracted to Latin America/Caribbean, older travelers chose Mexico (12%), Bahamas (2%) and Aruba (2%).

As in previous years, hotels or motels are still preferred by older travelers when traveling domestically (63%) or internationally (59%), while cruise accommodations decline.

Even with news reports about new strains of COVID emerging, concerns about COVID decreased this past year among 50-plus participants, meaning most travelers (81%) feel that travel is now safe. The study’s findings indicated that seniors aged 70 and older remain the most cautious about COVID impacting their decisions to travel.

Bucket list of places to go

Sixty three percent of the survey’s respondents say they have a budget list of places they would like to visit. “The idea of a bucket list trip is as intriguing today, if not more so, than it was prior to the pandemic lockdown,” noted the AARP report.  However, a change in cost of travel (21%), their discretionary income (12%), or their health 16 %) are potential barriers to taking “bucket list trips,” say the researchers.

AARP gathered this data through a 15-minute online survey of 2,000 Americans aged 18 and older conducted November 10 to December 5, 2022. Respondents sampled had taken at least one trip within the past two years 50 miles or more away from home, with at least a two-night stay. They also were required to have used an online travel site within the past two years and intended to travel for leisure in 2023. For the nontraveler findings, a 10-minute online survey was administered to 500 Americans aged 18 and over who do not plan to travel in 2023, but historically have traveled for leisure purposes.

To view the full 2023 survey results, visit For details, contact Vicki Levy at

For more information on older travelers, visit:


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