I spent the weekend exploring the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show. Saturday I went with my friend and writer extraordinaire, Lois, from the widely acclaimed blog Midlife at the Oasis. We were looking for interesting and purposeful travel opportunities for our generation, and unique trips and products to share with our audiences. We found some great stuff, hatched a few ideas, and hope to bring some valuable information to those who read our writing.
On Sunday, I went back looking for things more focused on brain healthy travel and I found some volunteer travel opportunities for Boomers but mostly in places where even the vendors did not know they were sitting on a golden opportunity.
First, a bit about the show as a whole. For a first time show, this was an amazingly well done event! Yes, this is just a new location for the Travel and Adventure series (they also have shows in Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, LA, DC, and Philadelphia) but any challenges that come with putting on a big event at a new venue were overshadowed by the quality of the exhibitors and presentations. Both days, the aisles were packed, the booths were all swamped, and there was standing room only at many of the presentations I attended.
In a nutshell, here is what I walked away with. The volunteer / adventure travel industry (at least what was represented here) is not marketing to the Baby Boomer market – they are focused on young people looking for something meaningful and challenging to do – mostly gap year students and pre-children twenty something couples looking to take advantage of those moments to go and be before their lives change.
That, in my opinion is a huge missed opportunity and there is an enormous hole in that line of thinking. We, Baby Boomers, as a massive group, are looking for ways to enjoy our lives, see the world, experience different cultures, and make a contribution in the process. Those of us who live and work in the US don’t have 8 weeks or even a month to participate in meaningful projects and really want to maximize the one or two weeks we can get away.
Yes, Road Scholars – formerly known as Elder Hostels — was well represented and had all kinds of information about their many educational trip offerings. And yes, Road Scholars does the whole international education and lifelong learning thing for mature adults incredibly well – they have been practicing since 1975. And yes, they now have even added some more physically challenging trips that include a bit more adventure. If your primary purpose is life-long learning (a noble purpose and one that we all should aspire to) exclusively and you are a “mature adult”, Road Scholars has great options. Check them out.
I am not quite at the mature adult stage (getting there) and since I don’t have lots of time to travel, my goal is always to maximize how I spend my leisure time. I want to be able to make a difference where I go in the short amount of time I have.
Maybe this experience sums it up. I was caught off guard when after I described my focus on the Baby Boomer market to one of the Adventure Travel companies, the lovely young woman pointed to the “Classic” and “Comfort” sections on their sheet of offerings because the level of difficulty was always “minimized”. After a deep breath, I suggested a trip specifically for Baby Boomers writers who could help them figure out how to capitalize on this great market opportunity, and, after she took a deep breath, she seemed to get it.
We all need to take a deep breath and figure out how this generation of doers and change makers can really make a difference in our leisure time. With that goal in mind, I started a new section on Cranium Crunches website: Find Your Purpose. Together, let’s explore how to challenge ourselves to be and do more while we maximize all our moments so we can live a more purposeful life.