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Celebration vacations gain in popularity: AARP

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Taking a Celebration Vacation has become a popular way to celebrate special milestones in life like anniversaries, birthdays, family reunions and weddings, especially for baby boomers, according to AARP Travel.

AARP Travel (, a valuable resource for America's 76 million baby boomers who spend more than $120 billion annually in leisure travel, said research has found that the joy and satisfaction of travel make it a top choice for celebrating an important milestone. It said 78 percent of people 45+ say they have taken or intend to take a Celebration Vacation in the next two years instead of throwing a party, getting a piece of jewelry or other item.

"Travel is the number one aspirational activity for the boomer generation, and we are seeing not just AARP members but also non-members who seem to prefer investing in a Celebration Vacation for their life's special moments," said Sami Hassanyeh, AARP chief digital officer. "Our research shows that Celebration Vacations are replacing parties, special events, jewelry, big-ticket items for the home or new car purchases with an increasing number of people 45+ wanting to travel more with their family and friends."  

AARP Travel has been leading the field of travel for people 50 or older and their families since 1958 and identifies emerging trends that influence how their members dream, plan and book vacations.

Celebrating anniversaries is the number one reason people 45+ plan a Celebration Vacation with 87 percent choosing a vacation over a party, jewelry, or other item to celebrate anniversaries. People 45 and older indicated celebrating milestone birthdays as the second biggest motivation for them to plan a Celebration Vacation (77 percent) followed by retirement (69 percent) and a wedding (66 percent).

There are a variety of reasons why people 45+ choose travel as a way to celebrate personal milestones including the following:

1. Enjoy traveling, getting away: 23 percent
2. Celebrate a special occasion: 21 percent
3. Fun thing to do: 14 percent
4. Allows me to spend quality time with friends/family: 9 percent
5. Wanted to go somewhere new/different: 8 percent
6. Wanted a romantic getaway: 3 percent 
7. Wanted to do something special: 3 percent

AARP's recent research also revealed some pain points in planning Celebration Vacations, including sticking to a budget (17 percent), budgeting (13 percent), and identifying destination activities (11 percent). The new AARP Travel website ( aims to alleviate some of these pain points by providing tools like the Trip Finder to build custom itineraries and by highlighting discounts.

Planning Celebration Vacations is now easier than ever — travelers researching their next getaway can go to AARP Travel ( and find expert advice and recommendations from Fodor's Travel. The site's expanded content now includes more activities, places to explore, travel tips and entertainment options to complement the destination guides first unveiled on the AARP Travel site in March.

One of the newest additions is Weekend Getaways (, which includes itineraries curated by Fodor's Travel. The collection recommends local escapes less than three hours from home, including where to eat, shop, and stay, from popular cities including Denver, Washington, D.C. and more locations nationwide.

AARP Travel's range of travel tools and features include:

  • Trip Finder — a fun, smart and visual series of questions to deliver ideas and recommendations for destinations — including some unexpected ones;
  • Map Explorer — a detailed street-level interactive map that includes attractions, restaurants, hotels, local color and reviews for each destination;
  • My Trips — a personal page where users can save and organize trip ideas, itineraries and related articles in one place and add to or edit them over multiple visits;
  • Articles and Destinations — travel tips from AARP Travel Ambassador Samantha Brown, articles specifically geared toward the 50+ traveler and information about hundreds of domestic and international locations; and
  • Book Trips — booking tools provided through AARP's relationships with Expedia and Liberty Travel and directly to hotels, and rental cars.  

The new AARP Travel research also indicates a vast majority of Celebration Vacations taken in the last two years were taken in the U.S. with the top destinations being:

1. Las Vegas
2. Disney
3. Los Angeles
4. Florida
5. Hawaii
6. New York City
7. New Orleans
8. Chicago
9. California
10. Alaska

The most popular beaches are:

1. Caribbean
2. Hawaii
3. Puerto Rico
4. Bahamas
5. St. Martin
6. Cabo
7. Cancun
8. Maui
9. Negril

While the dream of a Celebration Vacation is becoming more mainstream as a way to celebrate personal milestones, there are some challenges that people 45+ face planning for one. The top 10 hardships are:

1. Sticking to a budget (17 percent)
2. Budgeting for a trip (13 percent)
3. Identifying activities at a destination (11 percent)
4. Choosing dates (9 percent)
5. Developing an itinerary (8 percent)
6. Booking airfare (8 percent)
7. Coordinating ground transportation (7 percent)
8. Communicating changes in itinerary (7 percent)
9. Making reservations at a destination (7 percent)
10. Communicating details to travelers (5 percent)

For more information about AARP's research on Celebration Vacation and trends on how people 45+ are planning their celebration vacations, visit

Here's a tweet if you would like to share these new insights with your friends and family planning a Celebration Vacation: New study: Boomers and others choosing Celebration Vacations over jewelry/parties: #travelnews 



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