Group Tours: Are They For You?

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Alan Hull photographs at Bow Lake in the Canadian Rockies
Tauck tour photo opportunity at Bow Lake

What’s the age of the average tour passenger? Care to take a baby boomer educated guess? You’re not fooling me, I can see the images of little old white-haired ladies running through your boomer minds. Guess what? You’re not even close. According to an informal survey by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTO), the average age of a tour passenger is 53 and trending slightly downward. That’s right. The independent-minded, experience-seeking baby boomer doesn’t object to traveling on a group tour — if it offers the right experience for them.

Saying Yes To An Active Bus Tour

Have you traveled on a bus tour? Alan and I are raising our hands high. A couple of years ago, we ended a Western U.S. road trip by climbing the steps onto a Tauck bus for a Canadian Rockies tour. After driving hundreds of miles, Alan was happy to turn over the duty to someone else. And, I appreciated the best-in-the-house rooms at Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont Banff Springs and Jasper Park Lodge that Tauck’s clout provided. We both enjoyed the activity choices including hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and golfing. What? You did all that on a bus tour? You betcha.

Experiencing the Best of Both Worlds

South Africa Safari
On a group trip, there’s always someone to take your photo.

A tour arranged and escorted by a travel agency offers baby boomer travelers planning flexibility and a feeling of security, especially to exotic destinations. Have you read about our South African Safari? Alan and I started out on our own at the luxurious Ivory Lodge in Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve before flying to the northwestern corner of South Africa to meet a small group at Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge for more safari adventure. Later we ventured to Birkenhead House at Hermanus to sample the delights of the South African coast before boarding a Regent Seven Seas ship that would take us from Cape Town to Rio de Janierio. Our travel agent arranged the entire trip, plus escorted the group portion of the tour —Madkiwe Hills, Hermanus and Regent Seven Seas cruise. We had the best of both worlds — time to ourselves, fun with a group of like-minded travelers and someone else taking care of the details.

Learning Through Group Travel

A photo workshop introduced us to Waterhole Canyon

Pursuing a special interest during baby boomer travel provides a way to learn something new or practice a hobby while enjoying the camaraderie of a group. That’s what Alan and I found on photo workshops with exposure36 Photography (no longer in business). In northern Arizona, we explored the western landscape arriving at the right place at the most opportune time for taking the best photo. Scenic photo locations, improved skills and new techniques were just some of the benefits we took home. Of course special interest travel extends to walking tours, bicycling experiences and just about any other activity that you can name.

With approximately 77 million baby boomers in the U.S., our travel interests can’t be pigeonholed. Some boomers want to backpack or travel slow, while others focus on volunteering during their journeys. The simple fact is that there is no wrong way to travel. So, if you’re interested in group travel, determine your needs, do your homework and get up off that couch and go.

Have you traveled on a group tour? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email to ask a question or share your experience.

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