You’ve turned from middle age to senior. You’re retired or soon will be. The children have left home so you don’t need to feather your empty nest any longer. You’re the one that’s going to fly. (Or maybe you’ll cruise.) That’s where senior travel comes in!
You’re really excited. You so want it to be a great trip, the first of many – without the children.
But do your thoughts also turn apprehensive?
You always opted for the safe option before, ten days in the sun, but now you desperately want to do some of the more adventurous things you’ve dreamed of.
But what if you get lost and can’t speak the language? And even if you’re travelling with others, there are all sorts of dangers when you travel. Will the trip be memorable for all the wrong reasons?
Some of the holidays are unbelievably expensive. Well, that rules them out! How can you find a holiday that is everything you want AND good value?
Never fear: here’s your ultimate guide on how to make the most of your senior travel.
Find Your Way Round Your Senior Travel Guide
If you want to hop around, you’ll find the table of contents above.
If you’d find a pdf easier to read or to refer to, then click here, fill in the form and I’ll wing it to you straight away.
3 Secrets to Squeezing the Utmost from your Senior Travel
The first secret to squeezing the last, memorable drops from your senior travel is to make the most of each exquisite moment. Those moments start as soon as you begin thinking of taking a trip.
Indulge in daydreaming
Allow your imagination to soar over the possibilities: hiking, cruising, paragliding, Venice, Thailand, the Grand Canyon.
Daydream about all the activities and places you could explore. And how long are you going for? Imagine your two weeks or is it two months? Don’t say you’re planning on two YEARS?
Then the second secret takes over:
Anticipation offers the promise of wonderful times, extraordinary experiences. (Your brain doesn’t know the difference between the real and the imagined and tosses out the feel-good hormones either way. So, start enjoying now!)
Have fun and build your anticipation doing the research, selecting the trip to book, gleefully working on stretching your budget for a longer trip and delighting in the packing preparations.
Mindfulness is the third secret.
Take time to savour the little tingles of pleasure in each moment of your trip: the taste of different food, the sensations of travelling, the new sights, sounds and smells, the babble of another language, the colours. Share with your travelling companions and rejoice in their experiences too.
Senior travel blogs: founts of inspiration and senior travel tips
I’ve been lucky enough to travel extensively and you’ll see some of the ideas for travel that worked for me reflected below. I urge you to try something new and fun. You’ll have the time of your life and you’ll live longer too!
This is my photo of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe, reflected in a lake in the French Alps.
But I still love browsing through boomer travel blogs for inspiration and there are lots of them! Browse a few of my favourites for inspiration and shedloads of senior travel tips, tricks and ideas. Here they are.
Myitchytravelfeet.com – Donna Hull’s inspirational online travel magazine for boomers specialises in active travel adventures covering both international and domestic destinations, small ship luxury cruises, national park adventures, and so much more.
Boomeresque.com – Suzanne Fluhr writes of her travels with her husband. It’s not for nothing they’ve acquired the nickname of Mr and Mrs Excitement.
GypsyNesters.com – David and Veronica James tell of their travel adventures after their kids left home. Loads of ideas of where to go and fun things to both learn about and do.
TravelPast50.com – Tom and Kris sold their house, gave up their jobs and took up a new travelling life. Now they help others to go on the trips of their dreams.
Now you’ve been tempted, tantalized and inspired by all those beautiful photos, you’re ready to hone down your choices to a firm booking. Where are the best places to book?
Senior travel groups and senior travel clubs that set you drooling
“Seeking out adventurous travel experiences is part of our retirement fun!” Donna Hull
Of course, you may have discovered a package tour on-line or at your local travel agent that’s the perfect trip for you and that’s great. But try looking at senior travel groups and senior travel clubs.
Senior travel groups and senior travel clubs offer many advantages.
- The world is your oyster: You can travel to iconic places from the Grand Canyon to the Great Wall of China or go on a day trip to a local heritage site. Where do you want to go?
- They offer long trips and short ones, volunteering or luxury, pure leisure or mind-stretching adventure. Maybe you’d like a bit of all those things? For example, Road Scholar trips offer learning adventure in 150 countries.
- Specifically aimed at over 50s, some like Elder Treks and Road Scholar have activities that are graded by capability activities are graded by capability.
- Whether you’re super active or you’ve limited mobility, you’ll find a suitable activity.
- You’ll meet like-minded senior travel companions.
It’s safer to travel with a group, not just if you’re, say, adventuring into the Arctic, but also in other places where seniors are vulnerable: eg Rio de Janeiro at carnival time.
- Often access to crowded places is easier in a group. For example: book in for a tour of the Palais de Versailles in France. Arrive on time and off you go, avoiding the massive queues.
- Senior travel groups and clubs take care of all the flights, transport, accommodation, food and even entertainment and excursions, so you don’t need to worry about organization.
- Booking with a senior travel group means you’ll benefit from special rates for seniors.
Look for a senior travel club near you and you might find a new source of local friends and year-round social activities.
Finding the Perfect Senior Travel Group or Club for you.
Many senior travel groups and clubs operate on a for-profit basis (like Road Scholar), which is really reassuring. But they aren’t the only source of great senior travel.
Non-profit groups often want older volunteers to work for altruistic aims such as alleviating poverty, preserving wildlife or saving the planet. You’ll feel better about life if you give back by volunteering.
Look for alumni trips organized by your former university or college. You’ll benefit from highly qualified, expert guides from the university. You might meet long-lost college friends!
Local governments or local community associations organize travel groups and clubs. Trips as part of the town twinning schemes are popular in Europe.
Adult education institutions run trips for their students. Language classes organize study trips to deepen your understanding of language and culture. Painting classes go on intensive retreats: some are local and others as exotic as following the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh through the South of France.
Join a local club that organizes special trips for its members. Here are some more examples:
- Dancing Clubs do trips to wonderful ballrooms with special dancing lessons.
- Car clubs organize group driving holidays.
Blackpool Tower ballroom UK.
- Bowling clubs travel to tournaments.
- Sailing clubs participate in open weekends at other sailing clubs.
Creating Your Own Senior Travel Group or Club
If you form a group of friends or family, you can obtain all the advantages of group travel, including group discounts.
The upside: knowing most of the people already, you’re less likely to get landed with a drunk or a competitive know-all, a moaning minny or worse (which can ruin any tour or cruise).
The downside: it’s not for the fainthearted to organise because it’s a lot of work and can earn opprobrium from everyone.
Does it make you want to travel alone?
The Compelling Case for Single Senior Travel
Some seniors love travelling alone. You have different, more interesting conversations and experiences. Chance encounters can mean new, fun, travelling companions.
Look for tours for seniors travelling alone. You can have your own space and still reap the advantages of a group.
Such singles tours are not all about dating and romance. Many singles just want to meet interesting new people of either sex for conversation and companionship.
But what about the downsides to travelling alone?
The Double Whammy that Hits You as a Senior Travelling Alone
Travelling on your own can be hard. With nobody to share those fabulous new experiences, you feel the odd one out. You’re the gooseberry amongst all the couples.
And seniors travelling alone often incur the disadvantage of a single person supplement.
Look for singles tours that don’t charge a supplement. Other groups, cruise lines, for example, may offer low-cost single supplements.
Or a senior travel group may match you with a roommate. You share the room with somebody of the same sex and the single supplement no longer applies.
Don’t Want a Roommate Foisted on You? Find Your Own Senior Travel Companions.
Having a billy-no-mates you don’t know foisted on you can be no fun. What if they snore like a trooper or their feet smell?
A solution is to find your own senior travel companion. Ask friends and family first. But you can also search online. Take care to do it safely.
Ok. You’ve done the research but can you go? Is your dream trip within your budget?
FAQ: Which airlines offer senior discounts?
Some airlines do. Here is a list. But discounted flights are not always the cheapest solution. Always check with comparison sites, such as Kayak, Expedia, Google Flights or Skyscanner for the best deals. Don’t forget to check out hotel deals as well.
Senior Travel Without Breaking the Bank
Senior travel’s most common problem is affordability. Try these senior travel tips to fit your trip into your budget.
- Compare similar trips offered by different companies to look for the most affordable. Try price comparison sites.
- Travel in off-peak seasons.April/May and September/October can give you good weather, big discounts and less crowds.
- Sometimes you can get incredible prices if you book REALLY early. Alternatively, try a last-minute deal: companies sell off spare places cheaply at short notice. Take advantage of special offers.
- If you fancy a cruise, book a repositioning cruise (when they move the ship to the next season’s location). They’re great value.
FAQ: How can you travel for free? •
- Look for a travel job – cruise ships are good sources of travel jobs
- Try house or pet sitting
Clever ways to stretch your excursion budget
If you’re going abroad, choose to visit countries that give age-related discounts. For example:
- UK gives discounts for senior travel by rail if you buy a pass. Many UK museums and art galleries are either free or offer reductions for over 65s or pensioners.
- Spain offers discount rail passes to seniors and seniors can go into government buildings for free.
- Panama offers discounted services to seniors.
- Entry to national parks is cheaper for seniors in the US and Canada.
Look for age-related discounts wherever you go. For example:
- At the cinema, the theatre, a museum or an art gallery
- On buses, coaches and metros
- Pensioners’ meal deals in restaurants and cafes
- Spas, hairdressers and beauty treatments.
If you don’t see one, ASK!
Use any travel rewards that you’ve accumulated on your credit cards – too many people never use them.
Sometimes it’s cheaper to book tours and special trips through your travel company, but make comparisons before you book. (Drooling over the tempting and tantalising is a good way to up the anticipatory serotonin.)
Investigate all the ways of having a great time for free.
- Find a free walking tour run by volunteers in a city you’re visiting. Search here: https://globalgreeternetwork.info.
- Check out free events in local newspapers or online. g. the annual parade of dachshund dogs in Munich run by the Bavarian Dachshund Society – who knew of such a fun event?
Try the local branch of meetup.com to see what events they have planned. They have walks, comedy evenings, lectures and get-togethers. You’ll meet local and international residents.
Remember, if you book a cheaper trip, you might be able to afford to do another one later in the year
Secret Senior Travel Tips for holiday fun on a teeny tiny budget
Don’t be heartbroken if everything still looks too expensive.
BIG tip: only look for trips that are within your budget.
Your trip can be amazing even with a minuscule budget. Pick an idea which intrigues you.
Let’s say it’s a water sports holiday. If your budget is teeny-weeny, then it’s just as tantalising to go on a weekend camping trip with the local canoeing club.
Join a club local to you. Beg, borrow or steal the equipment and go.
Here is a sample club in Australia. uqcanoeclub.net. Do an internet search for canoe clubs near you!
BIG tip: You’ll get just as much joy out of planning a budget trip as a luxury one.
Time for serendipity to strike
Don’t forget to give yourself time to relax, to sit and savour the new sights and sounds, to enjoy the different food, to wander round back streets.
If you do too much, you might only remember the exhaustion. Who wants to remember, say, the Colosseum in Rome, as the place where your feet hurt so much, you couldn’t hobble round it?
Take time to rest and savour your surroundings
Give serendipity the chance to create some unexpected memories.
Senior travel scams: a health warning!
BIG TIP: check out that your travel agent, group or club is bona fide and has insurance.
FAQ: Is it dangerous for the elderly to travel?
It’s not dangerous if you’re sensible. Just take relevant precautions eg compression socks to prevent deep vein thrombosis if you’re flying. Good travel insurance for health, accidents, delays and cancellations is vital. Buy it for peace of mind.
Senior travel tips for keeping healthy
Age doesn’t limit your choices if you’re in good health. Even if you’re not, you can still go provided you take the right health precautions. Here are your Senior Travel Tips to ensure you stay healthy:
Check with your doctor about any meds you’re taking. Ensure you have enough supplies to last you out and that you have a prescription for them.
- That’s important for 3 reasons:
- your drugs might be checked by the authorities in your destination country;
- in case you lose them or run out; or
- if you have a new health problem. The new doctor will need to know what you’re already taking.
In addition, pack a basic first aid kit including plasters for blisters, anti-mosquito cream, sunscreen and a remedy for diarrhoea.
BIG TIP: don’t book a hiking holiday if you think it’s a long way from the car park to the supermarket. If you don’t want your companions to hate you or painful blisters, practise distance walking and break in the shoes you’ll wear.
Your special health needs
Always check in advance whether the trip is suitable for your particular condition. For example:
- as a wheelchair user, will you have access to transport and hotels?
- if you are mobile but slow or tire easily, will the trip be suitable for your usual pace?
- when you have food allergies, can you get special meals?
Maximise the Memories (and the Benefits)
When you get back, your trip lives on in your happy memories. Feel even better by recreating all those good feelings.
For example: if you loved:
- drinking the wine, join a local wine-tasting club.
- seeing art masterpieces, take up painting to appreciate their techniques and genius.
- the healthy feeling from exercise, carry on your holiday exercises: eg walking, swimming, sports.
- talking to different people. Try meeting more new people at home.
Why not make an album of your trip? Put in your favourite photos, tickets etc to remind you of what you did on that sensational holiday. Write about what you enjoyed the most.
It’s a great mental exercise and will help sustain you down the years.
How do we know that?
Why it’s Scientifically Sound to Indulge Your Senior Travel Dreams
Lack of purpose cuts life short. Seriously, it’s a killer. Be the person with a travel purpose!
Senior loneliness and depression are rife. Travelling with companions is stimulating and human contact uplifting.
Your brain reacts to the stress of new sights, sounds and smells by making new neurons. You build up cognitive reserves which may help prevent dementia.
Out sightseeing, you’re more likely to walk. That’s a huge physical benefit. Plus, you reap the benefits of being outside for longer: more fresh air, more Vitamin D.
You’ll sleep so much better when you’ve been exercising and bombarded with new experiences all day.
And senior travel is fun! Fun generates loads of beneficial hormones to keep you happy and healthy for longer.
Luxuriating in Your Sensational Senior Travel
You did it. Changing your mindset conquered your doubts. You researched all the tempting and tantalising possibilities and squeezed the joy of anticipation out of every second of the planning and packing.
Now, you’re sitting back in your dream destination, savouring the moment, crowing about how far you’ve come and salivating at the good times still coming.
You feel so invigorated, both mentally and physically. You’ve walked, you’ve looked and learned, you’ve absorbed so many new experiences. Your senior travel group has turned strangers into new friends. You really are going to keep in contact with them.
And whilst you’re soaking up the ambience, you’ve been formulating plans. Plans for when you get home, plans for other trips, plans for making the best of this wonderful life.
Let senior travel inspire you to plan, not only for a great trip but also for a wonderful life as you age.