The best way to become immersed in the local culture of any destination is by learning about the native history, traditions, and cuisine first-hand.
Baby boomers are one of the largest cohorts of travelers (77 million people or 35 percent of the U.S. population), and many are looking for active, immersive experiences to spend their money on instead of the typical luxury goods.
This demographic is specifically seeking to fit off-the-trail activities into each vacation day, including language lessons, cooking classes, and participating in cultural traditions.
AARP’s 2016 Top Travel Trend report stated 99 percent of baby boomers intend to travel this year, with 45 percent expecting to take an international trip.
Two travel companies, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations and Country Walkers, are developing vacations perfect for active boomer travelers.
Whether it’s a wine-tasting trip through Portugal, or a truffle hunt in Italy, these active travel brands are catering to what boomers want. Samplings of their immersive tours are outlined below.
Biking Through Italy’s Slow Food Movement
On VBT’s “Cycling Piedmont: Into Italy’s Slow Food Farmland” tour, travelers spend time biking through vast stretches of vineyards and get to meet a truffle farmer—or trifolao—to go on a “hunt” for some of the world’s most expensive mushrooms.
The trifolao and his trusty dog show how they find, choose, and preserve truffles before tasting the results of their hunt.
Walking Along Spain’s Coast
Country Walkers’ new tour, “Spain: Barcelona to the Costa Brava,” begins with a performance by the Santa Maria de Montserrat Monastery’s acclaimed boys’ choir and then continues onto Garrotxa Volcanic National Park—home to 30 doormant conical volcanoes.
Other highlights include a visit to Santa Pau, a 13th-century village and Girona’s old town, for a visit to a local market and the Girona Cook School.
Sipping and Walking Through Champagne
While on VBT’s first walk and barge tour, “Into Champagne Country: France Walk & Barge,” travelers get to meet a local cheesemaker whose family has been making and aging brie for more than 130 years.
The family gives a tour of the aging cellar and samples cheeses with fresh bread and a glass of Bordeaux wine. Additionally, guests wander Epernay’s elegant Avenue de Champagne and explore the hometown of the monk Dom Perignon.
Celebrate the 150-Year Anniversary of Canada
Country Walkers launched a new guided walking experience, “New Brunswick: Bay of Fundy & Campobello Island,” which connects travelers with a local resident historian to share details, myths, and tales from Canada’s past 150 years.
Additionally, the tour is guided by local Beth Johnston, who has been leading travelers through New Brunswick for more than 30 years. Johnston shares details on the native environment and can point out majestic bald eagles, porpoises, seals, and sea birds.
Explore Portugal’s Wine Country
More than 250 years ago, Portugal’s Douro Valley became the first controlled and demarcated wine-making region in the world.
On VBT’s new walking tour, travelers can discover this UNESCO World Heritage Site through the “Pathways of Portugal: Walking the Douro Valley” experience.
Travelers meet vintners, walk through the grapevines, and learn about the difference between the region’s young Vinho Verde wine and aged ports.