Senior Travel 2020 Ultimate Guide – See The Whole World (At Any Age)


group of seniors traveling people on camping

It’s The Best Time Ever for Senior Travelers – Are You Ready for Some Unforgettable Adventures? 

You did it. 

You had a great career, raised your kids, sent them to college and beyond, paid your taxes and your mortgage – all while juggling the many demands life threw your way.

It went by in a flash, didn’t it? 

But now…

Now your life is all yours. 

You finally have the time and the freedom to travel – not for business, not with the kids – for yourself.

Today, seniors travel choices are limitless. You can go anywhere or do anything you want – and you can do it cheaper and easier than other people.

Remember, not only does travel provide the best memories of your life, but it also:

  • Keeps you healthy and young.
  • Engages your mind, body and senses.
  • Broadens and changes your perspective.
  • Creates and deepens friendships.

That being said, senior travelers need a little more planning than teenage backpackers.

In this article, you’ll find every tip and resource you need to take the epic trips you’ve always dreamed of.

Move Over Whippersnappers! Being Over 55 Means You Travel Better

senior couple traveling with luggage

Age has its advantages.

With all of your experience, you can run rings around Generations X, Y, and Z. You can enjoy much more satisfying trips – for far less money – than people who have to juggle jobs and families.

Now that you’re retired, you can go on adventures that will make all these youngsters envious.

Why Seniors Can Travel Better Than Younger People:

  • More time. You have time to plan the perfect trip at your own pace. You don’t have to try to see all of Italy in nine days. You can soak up experiences rather than rush around from sight to sight.
  •  Flexible Schedule. With fewer obligations, you can travel in off-peak seasons. You can avoid crowds and save tons of money on airfare and accommodations. If your travel dates are flexible, you can save even more with airlines offering huge discounts.
  • Senior Deals and Discounts. Hotels, tour companies, public transport, museums, restaurants, and theaters around the world offer deep discounts for people over 60.  
  • Senior-Focused Tour Companies. Baby Boomers have left their mark on the world. Now tour companies want their business and are focused on crafting ideal vacations for former members of the Mickey Mouse Club.
  • The Internet. It makes travel so much easier. Plus traveling used to mean not seeing your family for weeks or months at a time. Now you can see and talk to your grandkids from anywhere in the world 
  • Experience. You’ve been around the block. You know what you like and what you want to see and do when you travel. You’ve earned the right to tailor your trips exactly how you want them.

See? This is the best time of your life to trave. Let’s get started!

Senior Travel Planning – Start Setting Up Your Dream Trips This Minute!

Getting excited about taking a jaunt? 

Well, just by reading these next few sections, you’ll actually be planning your trip.  

Congratulations!

Brainstorming and visualizing are the first steps to creating anything. Seeing yourself in all the beautiful and exciting places of the world is how you start making it real. 

Ready? Let’s get you brain fired up for travel! 

Seven Continents and 195 Countries – They’re All Yours to Explore. Where Do You Want to Go? 

Africa? Indonesia? Spain? Yellowstone?  

Only you know which places and sights have been your heart’s desire for all these years.

Well, it’s time to write them down and stick that list on your fridge. Keep adding to it – no matter how remote the destination or exotic the country.

Or, throw a dart at a map of the world—whatever it takes to come up with your list of top travel destinations!

Now is your time to be adventurous. Don’t limit yourself. Remember, you can go anywhere.

You have all the resources to plan an unforgettable trip yourself, or you can find senior travel clubs and senior tour companies to do it for you.

We’ll get to that later. For now, don’t just think about where you want to go—think about how you want to travel and what you want to see and experience while you’re there.

Travel That Will Feed Your Soul – What Kind of Trip Will You Take?

senior travelers rafting on the Amazon

Cruises, sightseeing, and beach vacations are wonderful. But today there are hundreds of custom trips that combine travel with your unique personal interests.

Have a lifelong passion? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? Now is the time to indulge yourself.

Trying something new in an unfamiliar place is powerful. You will never forget it.

Are you into yoga? Picture yourself taking classes in Bali, with the beautiful tropical breeze caressing you as you go through your practice. Think how much more exciting it would be than your local studio!

Fancy wildlife? Take a birding tour of Costa Rica or a safari in Botswana and get closer to nature than you ever thought possible.

Senior travel is more than simply going to different places. It’s a way to feed your passion and curiosity.

Take a quick look at this short list of the many intriguing options for senior travelers.

  • Sightseeing – Nothing beats the thrill of seeing the wonders like the Acropolis, the Taj Mahal, or Mount Fuji with your own eyes.attractive middle aged woman practicing photography
  •  Eco/Sustainable – Eco-lodges – from British Columbia to Guatemala to Jordan – are perfectly peaceful resorts for seniors who care deeply about the environment and want to connect with the local culture.
  • Photography – Take a week-long workshop at the Grand Canyon or Fiordland National Park and shoot like a pro.
  • Birding and Wildlife – Central America, Africa, and Vietnam offer stunning up-close encounters with some of the world’s rarest and most beautiful species.
  • Adventure – Go cave-tubing in Belize or discover the raw beauty of Patagonia.
  • Camping and Glamping – Live like a Bedouin on the edge of the Sahara or an Aborigine in the shadow of Uluru—the choice is yours!
  • Cruise – Ahhh, the Caribbean, the Danube, the Fiords! Sailing is the most relaxing, hassle-free way to see the world. And it’s a great way to sample different countries before planning a more extensive visit.
  • Road Trip – Rent an RV and drive the entire Pacific Coast Highway, or wind your way through Loire Valley as you visit castles and vineyards.seniors traveling by RV
  •  Active –Trek the Himalayas, cycle through Tuscany, or kayak the San Juan Island in search of orcas.
  • Language – Always wanted to learn a language? Take immersive classes in Paris, Madrid, or Rome and start conversing with native speakers.
  •  Festivals and Events – Take part in Day of The Dead in Mexico City, the Festival of Colors in Jaipur, or Oktoberfest in Munich.
  •  History – Follow Lewis and Clark’s path through the plains or Marco Polo along the Silk Road. Visit the beaches of Normandy and come face to face with history.
  • Ruins and Archeology – Ancient wonders like Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, the Minoan ruins of Crete, and the pyramids and tombs of Egypt will change your perspective forever.
  • Culinary – Take cooking classes in Marrakesh, Bangkok, or Oaxaca and improve your kitchen skills.senior travelers drinking wine at a vineyard
  • Wine – Travel to enchanting vineyard resorts in the world’s top wine regions like the US, Chile, South Africa, Australia, France. These serene places are ideal for seniors who want to deeper their appreciation for fine wines. 
  • Beach – Kick back on the white sands and splash in the warm waves of the French Riviera, the Seychelles, or the Philippines.
  • Fishing – Troll for big game fish off Cabo San Lucas, land that 10-pound lunker in Louisiana, or take a fly-fishing course in the pristine streams of Montana.
  • Water Sports – Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, learn to surf in Hawaii, or take sailing lessons in Sicily. The water is yours to explore!
  • Cigars – Visit the old tobacco plantations of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua
  • Volunteering – Are you a humanitarian at heart? Join up with other volunteers and nonprofits in Bolivia, Senegal, or India.
  • Train Travel – Choo-choo in style across Canada, Europe, or Mongolia.
  • Yoga/Meditation/Wellness – Channel your inner yogi and align your chakras in Sedona, Chiang Mai, or Piha.

You see, senior travel is much more than sitting on a tour bus.

Now it’s time to ask who is going to help plan your travels.

Who Will Plan Your Experience? Large Tours vs Small Tours vs DIY

Will you plan your trip yourself or take advantage of the many yours available. Let’s take a look at your options. 

Large Group Travel Companies for Seniors

If “the more the merrier” is your motto, then you’re in luck. The easiest and cheapest way for seniors to travel is in large group tours.

There are dozens of tour companies that specialize in large group travel for seniors. They offer exciting, all-inclusive tours where all you have to do is show up and they’ll do all the rest. All you have to do is pick your side trips and choose from a menu!

Go Ahead Tours is a highly-rated company and a good place to start looking.

The downside to these large group tours is that schedules are tight and you have limited free time to explore on your own.

Small Group Tour Companies for Seniors

Some senior tour companies, such as Eldertreks, specialize in small group travel, which typically have a maximum of 16-20 people.

These tours are special and offer a deeper experience. They avoid the mobs of other tourists and show you things from a distinct, closer perspective.

It’s a more intimate way to explore the world, and you will interact much more with your guides than on a large group tour – and make close connections with your fellow sojourners.

As you can imagine, these tours are not cheap, and the itineraries are busy, but many of the best small group travel companies focus on creating extraordinary experiences that will last a lifetime.

DIY Senior Travel

Remember the days you called your travel agent anytime you wanted to some place? Well, the internet changed all that. 

The information and resources available now (provided below) are incredible, and with a little know-how, you can easily be your own travel agent.

The only way to travel exactly as you want is to plan a trip yourself.

Tours can be hectic and don’t provide a lot of free time. On the other hand, DIY travel allows you to go at your own pace, spend more time in certain places, and take days off to relax and soak up the local lifestyle.

Planning your own trip is exciting, but it’s also a lot of work. You have to be savvy and do some research to get everything the way you want it.

You might get a bit lost when you first arrive in a city. Your hotel may be a little weird. But these are the things that make travel interesting! 

And no other kind of trip is more satisfying than the perfect one you planned yourself.

Who Do You Want to Travel With? Your Gang, A Soulmate, No One?

You basically have three choices when it comes to traveling: with friends, with a partner, or solo. We’ll break down the pros and cons of each one to help you decide on your dream trip.

Traveling with Friends

Nothing deepens friendship like travel. Whether it’s another couple or a group of friends, camaraderie makes travel fun and engaging.

But keep in mind that you’re going to be spending A LOT of time with these folks on your trip. You don’t want to get on each other’s nerves.

Tell them upfront not to take offense if you occasionally want to have some alone time.

Everyone needs a little space, and if they react negatively when you mention this, find other friends to go with.

Senior Traveling with a Partner

If you’re blessed to have a spouse, partner, or a friend that completes you, then you have the freedom to take any trip you want.

There’s a reason why contestants on The Amazing Race are in pairs.

The nimblest, most effective traveling team is two people with a plan.

If you add just one more person, the dynamic totally changes. But two people can plan and execute a perfect custom trip that ticks all their boxes.

Your common interests and complementary personalities will make you an unstoppable team.

Single Senior Travel

But what  if you’re single and would love to travel with a partner?

Well, seniors like you are just waiting to find kindred souls to travel with.

Search Trip Advisor’s Senior Travel forum for “Finding a Senior Travel Companion or Group” or go to seniortravelbuddies.com here.

Or if you’re looking for someone to be something more than just a travel buddy, check out Singles Travel International.

Don’t mind going it alone? If you’re really the independent type, nothing beats the peace and freedom of traveling solo. It takes some spunk, but single seniors can easily travel the world by themselves.

Tour companies like Road Scholar offer single-friendly tours all over the globe. They strive to make you feel included, and you’re not charged extra for traveling solo.

Or if you’re an experienced traveler and don’t mind being alone, you can travel however you like.

It’s easy and cheap to get one-on-one tours of cities and cultural sights. Your hotel will be more than happy to find you reputable guides and drivers, just ask them before you book your reservation.

The most important thing when traveling by yourself is to stay safe. You have to be extra careful and aware of your surroundings and never do anything if it doesn’t feel right. Make sure you stay in everyday contact with a few people back home and keep them updated on your itinerary (towns you’ll visit, hotels, flights, etc.)

Check out this article from Travel & Leisure for some great advice.

A Week? A Month? A Year? Forever? How Long Will Your Senior Travel to Last?

You have what most people don’t – free time.

Vacations and tours are great, but you can travel for as long as you please.

If you find a place that touches your soul, you can stay for months or… forever.

As you travel, keep in mind that extended stays are a real possibility. As many expats will tell you, the only way to really know a place is to live there.

Most countries offer a six-month tourist visa. Of course, staying in places like Vienna, Tokyo, or Sydney for a long time will drain your bank account.

But most of the world is much cheaper than the US, Canada, or Europe, and renting a house or apartment (especially in the off-season) costs far less than hotels. Check out Airbnb for local rentals, 

Further, house sitting, home exchanges and being hosted are ways to stay for free.

Also, private homes all over the world that open their doors to senior travelers for a small fraction of hotel prices. Visit The Affordable Travel Club to find a warm welcome.

And if you’ve found a place abroad that feels like home, you can become an expat and live for pennies on the dollar. Visit sites like International Living for more info.

Thousands Are Happy to Help You on Your Journey: Resources for Senior Travel

Do you have questions about certain places, tour packages, hotels, etc.? Would you like to chat with other folks your age who have taken the trips you want to take?

Below we have many resources for getting advice and help with planning your next big adventure.

Senior Tour Companies

The best places to start getting ideas are tour company websites specializing in senior travel.

They will open your eyes to the vast array of trips offered for folks over 50, including details on destinations, itineraries, and prices.

Road Scholar, Butterfield and Robinson, and Senior Discovery Tours are among the best.

Stride Travel is an agent for many tour companies . They list over 4,400 trips specifically designed for seniors.

This is a great place to start, but we recommend that you do your research to find the best fit for you and your wallet.

Senior Travel Facebook Groups

People in Facebook groups LOVE to help others.

Search “Senior Travel Groups” on Facebook and you’ll find dozens of online communities filled with 55+ folks happy to share their experiences.

Join a few that seem right for you and you’ll get posts on your news feed that will give you plenty of ideas.

Ask any question about travel and you’ll get tons of friendly, helpful advice.

Senior Travel Clubs

Senior travel clubs are another good option to connect with fellow Boomer wanderers. Plus, they offer discounts and packages that are a perfect fit for the mature crowd.

They charge low annual membership dues. Local ones tend to be social in nature and usually organize several group trips per year. You may have one near you that you can join.

There are also national and international travel clubs such as The Affordable Travel Club, Boondockers Welcome, and Thelma & Louise.  Check out any of these great clubs!

Just know that some senior travel clubs are scams. If the annual dues seem high or an aggressive salesman reaches out to you, be wary. 

TripAdvisor.com

The best source for ratings and reviews of hotels, restaurants, and tour companies. Here you’ll also find many senior tour reviews to help you make informed decisions.

Better yet, Trip Advisor has the best senior travel forum anywhere. Jump on here and search topics or ask any questions you may have.

AARP

AARP travel center is here to help with your travel plans, and they have discounts galore!

Their site has a superb senior travel forum.

They also have a great senior travel blog loaded with useful tips and articles.

Senior Travel Blogs

Senior travel blogs are great sites to find inspiration and info.

Some blogs written by solo bloggers are story-based. They’re all about experiences and insights. Of course, they’re also packed with a lot of first-hand knowledge about 50+ travel.

Some good blogs include My Itchy Travel Feet, The Gypsy Nesters, Solo Travel Girl, and Traveling Boomer.

It’s fun to tag along on social media as these Baby Boomer traipse around the globe.

Also, large online publishers like Travel and Leisure have blog pages about over-50 travel.

OK, you are getting an idea of where and how you want to travel. Now here are some special pointers to make your trips go off without a hitch. 

13 Senior Travel Tips: Flit Across the Globe with Ease

You can travel anywhere your imagination takes you. But in reality, people over 50 need a bit more thought when preparing for a jaunt around the globe.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan your adventures.

#1 Don’t Put It Off

Nothing is worse than late-life regrets.

Start your travel bucket list today and make a loose schedule for when you will take each trip.

Commit to them by planning, putting aside money, and telling others about your upcoming adventures.

Picture yourself on each trip. Feel the excitement in advance.

#2 Be Realistic

Travel is thrilling, but it can also be exhausting. You’re not a kid anymore!

You have time. Don’t try to pack too much into a short trip. Make sure you plan a lot of time to relax and explore freely.

#3 Travel in the Off-Season

You can avoid crowds and get cheap flights and hotels if you go during off-peak seasons when everyone else is in school or back at work.

Fall and spring are the best times for seniors to travel almost anywhere in the world.

#4 Pack Light

Lugging heavy bags around is hard work. Learn to pack lean and mean.Take advantage of hotel laundry service. 

Buy lightweight, wrinkle-free clothes. Bring only what you need. Choose wisely.

 

#5 Pack Your Senior Stuff

Make a list of “Senior Stuff” – hearing aid batteries, extra readers, lighted magnifying glasses, knee braces, compression socks, etc. You want to be able to see, hear, and walk around your dream destination.

#6 Pack Extra Meds

Prescription meds and supplements may be hard to find in other countries. Bring more than enough to last your entire journey.

#7 Get TSA Pre

Security lines are stressful. Get approved for TSA Precheck status and breeze right through.

#8 Get Global Entry and Mobile Passport

Nothing is worse than flying then hours and then stand another hour in the immigration line. For international flights, get Global Entry to help speed up the process once you’re on the ground.

Mobile Passport is an app where you submit your customs and immigration info on your phone rather than filling out paper forms.

#9 Get a TSA Notification Card

If you have a hip or knee replacement, pacemaker, or a disability, apply for a TSA Notification Card and avoid the lines and metal detectors.

#10 Don’t Schedule Tight Connecting Flights

Cutting it close with connecting flights is nerve-wracking, especially if the connecting gate is in a terminal at the opposite end of the airport.

Remember – you have time. You can travel at a relaxed pace. Don’t take any connecting flights with less than a two-hour window.

#11 Use Travel Apps

Don’t be anti-tech. Travel apps make your trip much easier plus keep you connected and updated on flights and reservations.

Use these powerful tools to travel with control and confidence.

For example, Flighty tracks the location and arrival time of your incoming plane.

Google Translate allows you to communicate with locals in almost any language.

At Your Gate informs you of all the restaurants and stores near your gate. You can order on your phone and have your food delivered as you wait for your flight.

At the very least, a navigator app and a good weather app are absolutely essential.

Also, be sure you download your airline’s mobile app and sign up for text message alerts.

#12 Get on Social Media

People at home love you and they want to know you’re while you’re abroad.

Stay connected and share your pics and vids with them on Facebook.

WhatsApp is also an excellent way to stay in touch during your travels.

#13 – Stay Safe

Read the next section and come back in one piece. 

Come Home Better, Stronger and Healthier: Seven Safety Tips for Senior Travelers

Hate to say it, but you have be a bit more careful these days. Come back better than you left with these tips.

#1 Have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) Card on You

Everyone should have one of these.

In case of an accident or incident, it has life-saving info about medical conditions, allergies, and blood type, plus emergency contact information.

ICE mobile apps turn your lock screen into an ICE card. It ain’t pretty, but it could save your life. Find out more HERE

#2 Get Travel Medical Insurance

Medicare is not accepted outside the US. Make sure your supplemental policy covers you or buy another that does.

#3 Get Vaccinated

Make sure you get all the recommended shots if you are going somewhere in the developing world.

#4 Avoid Fraud

Fraudsters love to target seniors. Make sure your tour company or club is reputable before sending money.

Also, beware of overly friendly locals who offer to exchange money or give you a private tour.

#5 Don’t Get Mugged

Don’t bring wads of cash, flashy watches, or jewelry. Expensive camera equipment attracts attention, too.

Be aware of your surroundings. Look for people watching you.

If you want to visit some sketchy areas, ask your hotel to arrange a reputable driver.

#6 Walk with Care

A sprained ankle can ruin your trip.

Busted sidewalks, cobblestones, and uneven steps are everywhere.

Wear sturdy shoes and bring ankle and knee support if you need it.

And remember, pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way in most countries. Look both ways.

#7 Drive Safe

Roads and traffic laws vary greatly around the world.

Make sure your auto insurance covers you when you’re abroad. It might be a good idea to take the extra insurance whenever you rent a car.

Have a navigator app on your phone. If you’re driving somewhere remote, consider an emergency satellite phone.

Drive during daylight, bring water with you, and have a local contact (hotel or car rental office) who can send help in case of an accident or breakdown.

Money and Senior Travel – How Can a Senior Travel Cheap?

Belizean notes and coins on a wooden table

You can travel cheaper than any other age group because of these three reasons:

1.     You have more time and flexibility

2.     You can pay in advance or with cash

3.     Senior discounts are everywhere

On the other hand, your monthly income is probably fixed, so it’s important to travel smart and not blow your nest egg. Here’s some advice.

  • Ask for senior discounts – Don’t be shy. Ask everywhere – hotels, gift shops, restaurants. It’s your bargaining chip. 90% of the time you will get a price break.
  • Use your ample time as bargain-hunting resource – You have time to shop for deals. You can travel off-season, or take two-stop flights instead of non-stops, and you will save tons.
  • Get cash discounts – Prepaying for hotels and car rental saves you a lot of money. Plus, cash is king in many countries. Hotels offer up to 20% off for cash over credit cards. Ask for cash discounts in gift shops, restaurants, etc. You’ll be amazed.
  • Leverage “strength in numbers” – Senior travel clubs offer great rates because they bring so many people. Tour companies, cruise lines, and hotels would much rather book a group than two people. Ask your Facebook groups if anyone is planning a group trip, or plan one yourself. It’s more work, but you might be able to travel for free if you bring enough people along.
  • Stay for cheap – Join some expat Facebook groups and ask about long-term rentals. They have the inside scoop on where to stay for pennies on the dollar.
  • Stay for free – House sitting, home exchanges, and being hosted by families are creative ways to avoid lodging costs.
  • Make money as you travel – You can sell your travel pics and videos online, start a senior travel blog, write an article for a publication, or teach English. In this golden age of the internet, you can come back with more money than when you left.

Senior Travel 2020 – It’s Time to Go!

Before you started this post, you might’ve been wondering what your options were for senior travel – realistically.

As you can see now, the world is yours to explore no matter your age.

You can take any kind of trip, anywhere, for any length of time.

How many people can say that?

As soon as you’re done reading

●    Start checking out the many senior tours out there.

●  Join some senior travel Facebook groups

●    Start following a few senior travel bloggers on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

Chatting with other Baby Boomers and seeing their adventures will help turn your travel dreams into a reality.

Before you know it, your senses will be tingling in some exotic locale, and you’ll be posting incredible pictures for your friends and family to ooh and ahh at.

Bon voyage and happy travels!

John Astrab

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