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Golden years: empty nesters indulge their wanderlust

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2012 – June 2012 (n = 20,267). Base: Australians 14+
Described as ‘the grief that many parents feel when their children move out of home’ by the Victorian Government’s Better Health Channel, empty nest syndrome is a recognised psychological condition. Yet many Australian empty nesters are taking what could be a sad situation and turning it into something wonderful: an opportunity to pack their bags and explore the world, free of parental responsibility. Read on to learn more about the travel habits of the empty nester…

Between July 2012 and June 2013, 60% of Australians aged 14+ reported holidaying within Australia at least once in the last year, and 23% reported holidaying overseas. Among Empty Nesters, these percentages are noticeably higher: 70% holidayed in Australia and 29% took off overseas.


In the year to June 2013, 54% of Australians were intending to take their next holiday within Australia sometime in the next 12 months and 10% were planning to go overseas. Again, the percentages were higher among Empty Nesters: with 58% intending to visit somewhere in Australia on their next holiday and 11% planning to holiday abroad.

Empty nesters: how their travel habits compare to the average Australian


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2012 – June 2012 (n = 20,267). Base: Australians 14+

Destination: Down Under

Whereas Victoria (32%) is the most popular state among average Australians intending to take their next domestic holiday in the next 12 months, New South Wales tops the list for Empty Nesters at 33%, with Victoria second most popular at 28%. Intriguingly, South Australia was considerably more popular among Empty Nesters, with 11% of them naming it as a destination for their next intended Aussie holiday (as opposed to the 7% population average).

Destination: Rest of the World

Empty Nesters also differ from the population average when it comes to preferred overseas destinations. While 19% of Australians intending to take their next trip abroad in the next 12 months name the US as their destination, 15% of Empty Nesters are planning their next trip there. New Zealand holds more appeal, with 18% intending to take a Kiwi holiday next (compared with the 14% population average).

Other vital stats

Compared to the average Australian, Empty Nesters are:

  • 10% less likely to enjoy doing as little as possible on holiday
  • 36% less likely to enjoy holidays where everything is organised for them
  • 59% less likely to prefer bright lights and big cities when they travel
  • 42% more likely to have found a travel agent helpful in choosing their last holiday destination
  • 35% more likely to have booked their last holiday through a travel agent

Jane Ianiello, International Director of Tourism, Travel & Leisure, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Comprising 8% of the Australian population (or 1,510,000 people), Empty Nesters are primarily Baby Boomers who are keen to enjoy the things in life that they put on hold while raising a family. Though most are still working, their spare time is suddenly their own instead of being focused on their kids.

“One of the benefits of this is the freedom to travel more, and many are doing just that. Indeed, Empty Nesters represent a great opportunity for savvy tourism operators, travel agents and airlines who understand the demographic and its particular preferences and habits.

“For example, our data shows that Empty Nesters are more likely than the average Australian to consult travel agents for information and booking purposes. Their preferred destinations and attitudes to travel can also vary from the population average. Armed with this kind of knowledge, marketers can tailor their messages to attract this potentially lucrative segment.”

Click here to view our extensive range of Travel and Tourism profiles, including Holiday Intention reports, Holiday attitudes, Travel Information Sources and more. These profiles provide a broad understanding of the target audience, in terms of demographics, attitudes, activities and media usage in Australia.

For comments or more information please contact:

Jane Ianiello

International Director of Tourism, Travel & Leisure

Office: +61 (7) 3318 7000

Mobile: +61 423 024 412

About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%