â€śThe Boomerâ€ť is a column that targets adults nearing retirement age and those already in their â€śgolden years.â€ť It will also promote reader interaction by posting e-mail responses and answering reader questions. E-mail your questions firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a child I knew that the coolest entertainers in America were "The Rat Pack." They were lead by the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra. The Pack also included Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. They ruled Las Vegas in the 50s and 60s. The group was reportedly never called that name by any of its members. They called themselves the Summit or the Clan. The Rat Pack was a term used by journalists and outsiders, even though it remains the lasting name for the group.
Their shows were pure entertainment â€“ laid back, leisurely, fun. Many times, when one of the members was scheduled to give a performance, the rest of the Pack would show up for an impromptu show. They sold out most of their performances and people would come to Las Vegas from all over just to be part of the Rat Pack entertainment experience.
In many ways, boomers today are looking for exactly what the Rat Pack used to give us: experiences that are laid back, leisurely, fun--the essence of travel. I asked Bill Newcott, an editor for AARP The Magazine, about what it is boomers plan to spend their leisure time doing this summer:
Boomer: What are the top three destinations for boomers during the summer? Or, is there a top three list AARP recommends?
Newcott: It's more useful, I think, to talk about the three top types of destinations for boomers--particular places are determined more by geography than preference. Overall, it appears that favorite boomer destinations break down into three top categories: entertainment destinations, historical destinations and natural destinations.
When you sit down next to a stranger at a show in Las Vegas, Branson, or Myrtle Beach, the conversation almost always goes directly to, "How far did you travel to get here?" The lure of entertainment, and lots of it, at reasonable prices pulls people from all over the country. The sheer variety -- from Cirque de Soleil in Vegas to Yakov Smirnoff in Branson to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede in Myrtle Beach -- draws millions in their golden years every year.
Bottom line: Value. Not inexpensive, but most for value for the dollars they spend.
Boomers like to attach meaning to their travel, and aside from visiting their own personal historical landmarks -- grandma's house, their old home town -- historical settings provide a chance to connect with other times. Places like Gettysburg, Washington, D.C., Faneuil Hall in Boston and California's missions. We hear from a lot of people who like to visit places that resonate with history that's been made in their lifetimes: places like the Reagan or Carter Presidential libraries, or Dealy Square in Dallas, or Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Boomer: Have you noticed any new trends as boomers have started nearing/reaching retirement age?
Newcott: There's very little interest among boomers in sitting still -- staying home on vacation and puttering around the house. That's for weekends. Vacations are for getting out there, going somewhere and doing something.
They're being careful on how they spend their vacation dollars, but they're also into doing things on the cheap. Boomers want real value for their vacation dollars, a good return on every dollar they spend. That's why the inexpensive entertainment in Branson and Vegas, and the profound emotional experiences of visiting historical sites and great natural wonders are so popular right now.
Boomer: Is there an advantage for boomers to travel in a larger group, rather than go individually?
Newcott: Boomers still pretty much want their individuality. They'll consider group travel if it's pitched to them as a "freelance" experience where they get group savings while still being free to strike out on their own if they like. But the old "If it's Tuesday this must be Belgium" travel format is not what they're looking for.
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