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Traveling in your golden years can be very rewarding. Unique and active educational and cultural experiences are waiting to be discovered - at your own pace of course. A wide variety of tours are available to older travelers - from relaxing river cruises through the heart of Europe to coach tours around Australia, to more active pursuits like going on an African safari. Start the next stage of your life by embarking on a truly special trip.
Destinations that may have once seemed too remote or exotic are now not only accessible, but accessible via multiple options.
Interested in a river cruise? They go all over the world and are a perfect option to maintain a little comfort as you visit the exotic unknown. Interested in a safari? You can travel in luxury and not worry about the logistics. Want to explore the in depth history of a country or city? You can find a tour specifically focusing on your interests.
With more time and resources to indulge your passions and curiosity, the world is your oyster. Professional travel providers and outfitters can help you make the most of -- and truly savor -- each experience.
There has been a remarkable rise in the number of organized tour operators, including small ship and river cruise lines that have responded to the needs and interests of older travelers who have more leisure time.
These are no longer your grandmother’s tour companies, which herded large groups off an on buses like sheep. In fact, even coach-based tours are striving to appeal to a more sophisticated, knowledgeable group of world travelers.
The new generation of travel providers seek to offer authentic experiences that create lasting memories, without the hassle of having to plan and execute every detail yourself. These travel providers go to far corners of the globe and offer expert guidance that ensures you’ll be able to spend your time doing what you want to do -- and not what you have to do just to get from one place to the next.
Many of them have special expertise in organizing trips for travelers of all ages, but especially older travelers. Whether it’s an adventure like an African safari or a trek to Machu Picchu, a river cruise through Europe, a small ship expedition to the Galapagos, or a culture-minded tour to Greece. And let’s not forget North America, where U.S. and Canadian national parks and Mexican and Central American archaeological and natural treasures beckon. Prepare to see the world in comfort while learning about and interacting with locals.
Trips catering to an older demographic can still be adventurous but may offer somewhat less physically demanding itineraries, as well as accommodations that are a step above those that cater to younger groups. They will also concentrate more heavily on including authentic cultural or culinary experiences, which many consider a necessity rather than an indulgence.
Stride is here to help you make your way through the clutter and clamor and to find the travel providers that understand your needs and interests.
Where do most seniors travel? Well that depends. Europe is probably the most popular destination of all - particularly the UK and Central Europe. The constant ancient history, food, views, and architecture here is a draw for many. Choose to see it all go by on a river cruise for the perfect combination of luxury and activity. You can choose which ports you’d like to see, and which guided excursions you’d like to participate in.
Or perhaps you're in well enough shape to take a walking tour through the cobblestoned streets of idyllic European cities, such as Vienna - a popular destination for senior travelers interested in classical music. Or enjoy a trip that combines various modes of transportation, like classic cars in Germany, or double decker buses in London. The choice is yours.
Regardless of your physical condition, travel options abound. Caring.com, a resource for seniors to find assisted living, believes travel is a great way to remain active. Check out their article on Senior Travel Tips to make the most of your experience.
The northeastern United States is another popular choice, especially for photography buffs looking to capture those spectacular fall colors. Spend a lovely time staying in local bed and breakfasts, visit museums dedicated to the long pre-United States history of the area, as well as the incredible revolutionary history.
Birding is one of the quickest growing tour types for seniors. These go all over the world as travelers seek elusive species. Guided by professional photographers and fellow birding enthusiasts who are encouraging and helpful. Get in depth advice on the best way to spot new birds, the best lenses to use, and the best camera settings for the perfect shot. Some of the best birding destinations include British Columbia, Costa Rica, the Amazon, and Britain.
Knowing the physical levels for your desired tour is very useful. This can help prepare you for what the tour will be like, and how much physical activity you can expect. This is especially helpful for those traveling with limited mobility such as walkers, canes, or wheelchairs.
On Stride we have 5 main physical levels you can filter by when searching for a trip: Very Easy, Easy, Moderate, Strenuous, and Extreme.
Senior travelers will generally enjoy most tours in the Very Easy to Easy range. These include river cruises, small ship cruises, coach tours, and guided tours that involve very little walking.
More active senior travelers will be fine on a selection of Moderate tours. These tend to involve regular half days of walking or cycling, and may offer more adventurous activities, such as riding a camel in Morocco or sea kayaking in New Zealand.
Those who have limited mobility will find that traveling on tours labeled “easy” will be the best fit. River cruises, small ship cruises, and train journey’s are some of the best ways to travel if you’re wheelchair bound. However always check with the tour company directly to ensure the particular itinerary you’re interested is wheelchair accessible. Some may not be but they can steer you toward an itinerary or destination that will be more welcoming.
Knowing the physical level of your tour will also help ease stress in planning, such as knowing what to pack. For example, for walking tours that are “Easy” you may want to pack a few extra days worth of walking clothes. If you’re going on a river cruise, (“Very Easy”) you’ll only have to unpack once, so you can indulge in packing a few extra choices for dinner. Small ship cruises sometimes have laundry facilities, so know that you could take advantage of this if need be.
The senior traveler is discerning, open to learning, and has high expectations when it comes to lodging, food, and experience. Much like younger travelers today, authenticity is highly valued but it must be coupled with a certain degree of comfort. Small groups are preferred, with other members of the 50+ age group.
There are several tour companies that cater specifically to senior travelers - with these traits and desires in mind. Senior travelers have a variety of interests, and they tend to focus on cultural learning and history, and hobbies such as photography, birding, and gardening.
Here are some of the top tour companies to consider if you’re a senior traveler:
Road Scholar - Founded in 1975, Road Scholar (previously Elderhostel) provides learning, cultural, and history tours all over the world. One of the draws to Road Scholar is their emphasis on tours led by experts in their field. You could learn about Egypt from an archaeologist or visit Shakespeare’s house with an Oxford professor. They focus exclusively on tours for 50+, and a small number of multi generational trips are offered, making this a perfect bonding travel experience for grandparents and grandchildren.
ElderTreks - For active older travelers, who are relatively physically fit, Eldertreks provides walking tours around the world. Venture to traditionally adventure travel destinations with a 50+ age group, with a company that understands your needs as a senior traveler. Get to know your tour companions through the accomplishment of completing long, vigorous, walks through varying terrain and weather. If you’re up for an adventure, Eldertreks is for you!
Globus - Those seeking a more relaxed journey, winding your way through a country in a comfortable, roomy, and fully equipped coach, this is for you. Enjoy gazing out of large viewing windows as guides detail the history of the area, and unique geological information.
Rick Steves - Europe expert Rick Steves has grown in popularity through his detailed and clear guidebooks, as well as many travel video features. His name is recognizable to most senior travelers, and his tours are full of the same quirky humor, unique finds, and unforgettable experiences. He taught us to appreciate good food, historical sites, and cultural backgrounds - and guides on his tours will not disappoint in providing all this and more.
Abercrombie & Kent - Luxury safaris at their best. If a trip to Africa is calling you, yet you’re unsure about how to make it happen without roughing it, consider a safari with Abercrombie & Kent. Their approach is a throwback to the luxury safari experience of royals and socialites in the jazz age. Enjoy a private veranda looking over the savannah, exciting game drives that take you up close to stunning natural wildlife.
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