Life begins at fifty-five: New study reveals how the over 55s are planning to live life to the fullest in a post-pandemic world

Published  21 April 2021
   5 min read
  • A new study by Royal London reveals the top travel destinations for over 55s, how they plan on spending life post lockdown, and the factors that have held them back from achieving their dreams to date.
  • 64% of over 55s state they will travel more post-pandemic
  • The top destinations and bucket list items for over 55s revealed

We have all heard the phrase ‘life begins at forty’ but according to new data1 by Royal London, it may seem we were well over a decade out - life now actually begins at 55!

With the world being in lockdown over the past year, Royal London polled Brits aged 55+ on how they plan to spend life post lockdown, as well as their top goals/dreams. Having analysed the results, it seems a staggering 64% of over 55s are planning to travel more in a post-pandemic world.

Whether travelling for a holiday or achieving that lifelong ambition, the study has revealed the top bucket list items for those aged 55+.

Top 10 Bucket list items revealed

33% of people aged 55+ state that they’re yet to achieve their lifelong goals due to lack of money, whilst 38% thought they would have achieved more by the time they reached 55.

When asked what bucket list items they will be chasing, the following activities came out as the top 10:

Top activities/experiences people want to experience  % of respondents
See the Northern Lights 53%
Travel on the orient express 42%
Visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World 36%
Live/buy a house abroad 25%
Go on Safari 22%
Take a hot air balloon ride 20%
Go to a major sports event e.g., Wimbledon 20%
Drive a supercar 16%
Volunteer for a charity 13%
Go to a festival 13%

What has held the over 55s back from achieving their goals

Nealy half (43%) of over 55s say they will regret not achieving their bucket list items if they fail to complete them. When asked why they’re yet to achieve their lifelong goals, respondents listed lack of money, work commitments, and family commitments as the top three reasons.

The full list of reasons that have held respondents back are as follows:

Top factors that held respondents back from achieving their dreams  % of responses
Lack of money 36.6%
Work commitments 16.0%
Family commitments 12.4%
Poor health 9.4%
I just never got around to planning them 9.1%
I never found the time 8.8%
I didn't know where to start 5.1%

Commenting on the results Louise Eaton-Terry, later life lead at Royal London, states:

“Travel and new experiences are high on the bucket lists of over-55s post-pandemic. The research also shows that nearly half would regret not achieving their bucket list, with the lack of money or work and family commitments likely to be the reason for them not achieving their goals.”

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Notes to Editors


  1. Survey conducted by Royal London to 1,000 UK respondents aged 55+.

About Royal London

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with assets under management of £147 billion, 8.7 million policies in force and 4,232 employees. Figures quoted are as at 31 December 2022. 

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