The 50+ set is ready for exploration – hitting the roads, trails, waters and skies. From cross-continental bike trips through Africa to surfing school in Mexico, those in their 50s – 80s are stepping out of their comfort zone and looking for adventure (as Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” plays in the background).

The adventure travel industry is flourishing, and while the average age of the adventure traveler is a spry 49 (up from previous years), tour operators report that the largest group of adventure seekers (41%) are now between the ages of 50 and 70.

What’s behind this growing trend? It seems quarantine certainly helped spur the spirit of exploration. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, New Zealand’s Adventure South NZ stated that for the 10 years preceding the pandemic their average guest age was 55, jumping to 65 directly after. Adventures in Good Company, a U.S.-based company which focuses on trips for women, saw their average age rise to 62 last year compared to 58 pre-pandemic. 

Adventure travel in later years can have many advantages.

Of course, you’ve also heard that “60 is the new 40.” Baby Boomers are breaking the stereotypes of what it means to age, staying active and healthier longer. Rewards for doing so include the ability to travel, explore and exceed your own expectations. Setting your sights on an experience you never thought you could, or would do, provides physical and mental stimulation, and can be transformative. Traveling with like-minded people also builds new connections that can last a lifetime.

What are these crazy kids doing? Trekking across third world countries, hiking hundreds of miles on ancient trails, scuba diving in the tropics, cruising on small ship expeditions, kayaking through the wilderness, biking across continents and white-water rafting on extended pack trips.

Trending destinations include the Mediterranean, Western Europe, South America, Scandinavia and Central America followed by Africa, Southeast Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean. More comfortable here at home? North America falls within the top 10 destinations as well.

If planning a trip of this caliber sounds overwhelming, maybe you’d prefer another growing trend, “surprise travel,” where all details are arranged for you with the destination and itinerary unknown until you arrive at the airport. According to a 2023 Adventure Travel Trade Association survey, more than half of all Americans (52%) are feeling this adventurous.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But also exhilarating, which just may be the point. And exploring in your later years has its advantages: travelers standardly have more money, time, experience and expectations – and the industry is listening.

Once reserved for the young and rugged, a primary appeal of some adventure travel is the mere challenge to survive. However, this new demographic requests luxury with living on the edge, and companies are catering to their desires, offering trips that combine comfortable accommodations and thrilling outings at a slower pace.

Baby Boomers are breaking the stereotypes of what it means to age.

G Adventures, an adventure travel company known for its active trips connecting young adventurers with diverse cultures and local communities, is responding to the trend by launching the Geluxe Collection. This new line of experiences is designed to cater to the evolving needs of its 50+ aged customer, which now represent about 35% of its clientele. (Think trekking through the jungle then returning to an evening massage and chef-prepared meal in your luxurious treehouse.)

A quick internet search for ‘adventure travel’ will open your eyes to a whole new world and possibly ignite a passion within you to get up and go. As you plan your next journey, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Find an itinerary that excites you, but choose a trip that is appropriate for your physical abilities. Many adventure travel companies rate their trips by difficulty; be honest with yourself and choose a trip that you can comfortably handle – or set it for a later date and get inspired to get in shape for your chosen activity.
  • Make a list of things that may be holding you back and find an adventure that addresses each. Would you prefer to go solo, as a couple, in a large or small group? Do you mind sharing space or favor your own? Do you like making your own itinerary or prefer it be done for you? Do you have nutritional considerations and can they be met? 
  • Don’t forget to pack your sense of adventure. Be prepared for anything.  Adventure travel can sometimes be unpredictable, so pack for a variety of weather conditions and be flexible with your plans.

Age is simply a number, and adventure was made for every age. The world is waiting, so set your sights and go explore!

Editorial by Lauren Del Sarto, founder and publisher of Desert Health. She can be reached at [email protected].

Sources: 1); 2); 3)

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