The New Zealand Seniors Series: The Grey Nomads Report 2024

The New Zealand Seniors Series: The Grey Nomads Report 2024 This report explores the importance of an active travel lifestyle for New Zealanders aged over 50 including their goals and motivations, travel preferences and considerations.

We all dream of travelling the world and experiencing all the sights, tastes and sounds it has to offer. By the time we reach our 50s, many of us have ticked off our big goals around building a career and starting a family, and the urge to get out and see the world only grows stronger. As we enter the prime of our lives, we find ourselves reprioritising our next adventure as we cross off our travel bucket list. 

The Grey Nomads Report 2024 forms part of the New Zealand Seniors series, which explores the issues that matter most to our community. Surveying more than 500 New Zealanders 50 years and over who typically travel multiple times per year or for extended periods (more than two weeks), this chapter delves into the role travel plays in our lives, our behaviours and preferences when choosing where to visit, as well as our health and safety concerns and how we’re funding our travel.

Grey nomads take on the world

It’s no surprise that travel becomes a bigger priority as we mature, as we seek new experiences and endeavour to make more memories. In fact, around two-thirds (67%) of our community view regular travel as a very or extremely important part of our lives.

According to the findings, almost three-quarters (74%) of us are planning to travel again in the next 12 months, and on average, we’re on the move for around five and a half weeks of year – which roughly translates to about 10 per cent of the year. 

Taking our travel obsession a step further, around one in seven (14%) of us like to think of ourselves ‘nomadic travellers’, regularly spending extended periods of time away from home for more than four weeks a year. And while a full-time travel lifestyle is not for everyone, more than a quarter (26%) of us have seriously considered a nomadic lifestyle since turning 50 years old, and just as many (27%) would consider doing this in the future.

Where to next? The destinations on everyone’s bucket list

Get ready to stamp your passport! The report findings dive deep into the top destinations on our travel bucket list. 

Topping the list of the most popular travel destinations are locations closer to home, with many of us wanting to explore other regions in New Zealand (58%) as well as our neighbouring country, Australia (57%). Other honourable mentions rounding out the top five include Western Europe (45%), Southeast Asia (37%), and North America (37%). Interestingly, those of us who identify as Gen X travellers lean towards more exotic destinations like Central America, Northeast Asia, and South America. 

Grey Nomads Report Travel Trends

When it comes to the type of holiday we crave, scenic adventures are the crowd favourite among as many as seven in ten (68%) of us. Historical or cultural (57%) encounters, catching up with friends (54%), food, culinary and wine experiences (54%) and city exploration (53%) also make the top five. 

Our taste in holiday locations also seem to reflect a craving to unwind and disconnect from our busy world. Most of us share a penchant for holidays that allow us to hit the road (60%), relax by the beach (53%), explore country and rural areas (42%), or spend time in nature or with wildlife such as with eco travels (40%).

Affordable holidays top the list 

When we reflect on our travel plans, it turns out that money is the biggest deciding factor. With the cost-of-living and inflation putting a strain on our wallets, so it makes sense that as many as four in five (82%) of us name cost as our single greatest consideration overall. In fact, more than half (54%) of us admit we can already feel the pinch of the cost-of-living on our travel plans. 

Travel costs have gone up with over a third (34%) of our community saying that holiday spending has increased compared to five years ago, with three in five (60%) of us spending an excess of $5,000 on travel each year. Meanwhile, more than a half of us say that high travel expenses are our biggest pet peeve (58%) and describe financial constraints as our top obstacle to travel (51%), while 82 per cent agree that value for money is the most important box to tick when deciding on holiday plans.

Grey Nomads Report Holiday Funding

Despite rising costs, it seems we are not willing to part way with our travel plans – in fact, almost a fifth of us are swiping our credit cards (15%) or dipping into our superannuation (17%) to fund our next holiday. Most of us (71%) are even willing to spend our children’s inheritance to cross off our bucket list, with 87 per cent of us withdrawing from personal savings. 

When it comes to travelling, we want to have our cake and eat it too – that’s why more than half (52%) of us are vigilant about sticking to a well-defined budget, while nearly a third (31%) research and select affordable travel destinations to stretch our budgets throughout retirement. According to the report, some of the top ways we’re getting more bang for our buck includes travelling during off peak periods (63%), being flexible with dates (59%), and avoiding expensive restaurants (58%), as well as avoiding tourist traps (56%) and taking advantage of free attractions and activities (55%).  

Kate Tawhai, Owner of Travel Expert, with almost a quarter of a decade of experience in the tourism industry, revealed her top tips to help seniors save money on their next holiday:   

  • Seek the advice of an experienced travel professional, who can tailor make a travel itinerary to fit within your defined budget. 
  • Be open to a slightly longer journey with an extra transit stop for a lower airfare.
  • Avoid countries where the NZ dollar doesn’t stretch as far, for example, parts of Asia over the USA.  
  • Use a travel credit card to save on foreign transaction fees on overseas purchases.
  • Prebook and arrange as much of your sightseeing as you can before you travel.
  • Dine a few blocks away from the heart of the tourist attractions for local prices.
  • Shop like a local for picnic supplies from local supermarkets or get takeaway meals.  
  • Don’t be put off the luxury brand cruises as their all-inclusiveness represents great value with all sightseeing tours included, premium drinks, Wi-Fi and more.

Peace of mind: Top travel worries and how to beat them

Outside of money, the second biggest consideration we factor in when deciding on travel plans is our safety (61%). Similarly, almost half (46%) of us are at least somewhat concerned about our health while on holidays. Our biggest fears when it comes to health and safety include dealing with unexpected medical costs (50%), having inadequate travel insurance (48%), and being hospitalised while travelling (48%). 

The good news is that the vast majority (84%) take active steps to prepare for our health and safety before we embark on a trip, most commonly by getting vaccinated (56%) and making sure our prescription medications are filled (49%). Furthermore, around nine in ten (91%) of us opt for travel insurance for international holidays, while only a quarter (25%) get covered for domestic trips. 

Grey Nomads Report Safety Considerations

Travel Expert’s Kate Tawhai shared some pointers for over 50s on how to travel with peace of mind:

  • Firstly, have the backing of a professional travel manager who can guide you every step of the way, from customising your itinerary to being there to assist you if anything goes wrong. Some providers offer a 24/7 service to clients who encounter any difficulties or need to make urgent changes to their travel whilst overseas.  
  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance at the same time you put down a non-refundable deposit on your travel, to protect your investment in case of cancellation. 
  • Always take time to read the policy wording and check for exclusions that may impact your ability to make a claim. Declare all your pre-existing medical conditions so there are no grey areas when it comes to lodging a claim and you know exactly what you are covered for. 
  • Register with Safe Travel by visiting
  • Carry medications in your carry-on bag and a copy of your prescriptions in case your bag goes missing.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of the New Zealand Seniors Series. 

Discover more insights in The Grey Nomads Report 2024

Kate Tawhai

Kate Tawhai is the owner of Travel Expert with 24 years’ experience in the Travel industry spanning three continents. Starting her career after her London OE, she soon spread her wings to Vancouver where she managed a retail travel agency and assisted corporate travellers throughout Canada and the USA. Returning to New Zealand in 2009, Kate soon developed a strong reputation as a Travel Expert. Launching her own business in 2019 as an independent travel broker, Kate is now sought-after with a loyal following of clients throughout New Zealand and abroad. Travel Expert is an approved member of the Travel Managers Group NZ Limited, backed by the exceptional buying power of a large multi-national company.