Can Seniors See The World?

I originally published this story in Senior Life September 4th, 2023.

I’m not certain if I qualify as a “senior” in my 50’s, but I want to continue to travel more than ever in the years to come.  I have  been fortunate  to  visit 89 countries and 7 continents,  but I know that there are still so many places I want to see and many more adventures to be had.

The majority of these travels over the past 10 years have been hosting groups of 55+ adults on journeys around the USA and the world.  This experience has not only increased my expertise of different destinations, it has also made me aware of challenges that we face while traveling as we age.  It has given me insight into choosing both where and how to travel.  

Our Grand Strand travel agency has also given me an appreciation for those with more life experience.  Our area is a huge retirement destination and I would estimate about 90% of our clients are retirees that have relocated to our beautiful, sandy beaches.  They are active folks who enjoy new experiences, seeing new places and are truly keen on traveling!

The author and his wife Kelly hosting The Outlander Society’s “Treasures of Portugal & Spain” in May 2022 (Mateus Palace, Villa Real, Portugal)

My travel philosophy has also evolved as my age has increased and through this evolution I have learned some tips and tricks to make the entire journey more memorable.  I now believe that your trip should not start when you get there, rather it should start with the planning phase and truly begin when you take your first step out of the door.

What should older travelers look for?  Let’s start with the premise that the days of backpacking around Europe and sleeping in hostels are in the rearview mirror.  Ideally, so are red eye flights and running to make a connection. We want a different style of travel with perhaps a better understanding of a culture, and an emphasis on curating trips based on personal time.

Travel Tips for These Happy Golden Years 

  • create a bucket list if you don’t already have one
  • prioritize that bucket list:
    • schedule “difficult” destinations earliest
    • schedule off-season travel to avoid summer heat waves and crowds
    • don’t wait for a milestone for your top trips
    • don’t put off multigenerational family vacations
      • you know the one when Papa and Grandma pay for everything
      • Doing something novel or seeing a place for the first time together can create a lifetime of memories for older AND younger generations
  • seek accommodations with modern facilities, elevators, air conditioning 
  • avoid cruise itineraries that have a lot of tendered ports-of-call
  • ALWAYS get good travel insurance
  • don’t rule out “adventure” travel such as Antarctica, or glamping
  • find an experienced, trusted travel advisor
  • make sure the river cruise or ocean cruise line is the right fit for you
  • consider domestic travel – the USA is full of beautiful & exotic places
    • Remember the ADA only exists here in the states
  • join or create a neighborhood travel club
  • do not delay your plans, start early and enjoy the “anticipatory happiness” bonus
  • travel with groups

Let’s follow up on that final tip, traveling with a group.  It offers so many benefits, and the perceived downsides are remnants of bygone days. Perhaps that explains why a recent survey found 80 percent of travelers prefer to travel with others. 

Have you ever attempted to surf the web for vacation ideas and collapsed under a load of contradictory information? If you’ve never been somewhere it’s difficult to determine the best bargains, find the most convenient hotels, and get the inside scoop on unknown sites worth seeing.  With a group, not only does someone else take responsibility for making all the arrangements, their experience can help you avoid many of the pitfalls. 

Group travel offers security, opportunities to make new friends, share experiences, and have more fun!  After you return, would you believe that the bonds created during your shared experience have made life better than ever at home as well?

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