Ultimate Senior Travel Guide
You’ve always dreamt of traveling the world. You no longer feel the heavy burden of time constraints weighing on your shoulders. Phenomenal travel opportunities are unfolding all around you. The incredible vacation options for older people are mind-blowing. Are you ready to make your epic dream vacation come true? Do you want to learn more about travel options for people who aren’t youngsters? Having an Ultimate Guide for Senior Travel will make your life much easier. Here you’ll find 100+ rockin’ tips for senior travel.
Bucket List Travel Ideas
Narrowing down choices from your Bucket List can be daunting. There are numerous considerations. How far and how long do you want to travel? You may have specific accommodations in mind. Do you want to travel with family or friends, or by yourself?
If you travel solo, will you join a tour group to pursue a special interest? It’s important to consider medical issues, or a disability, ahead of time. This Ultimate Guide for Senior Travel will empower you to make your epic dream vacation become a reality.
Tips to Narrow Down Your Bucket List
Here are some tips to narrow down the destinations on your Bucket List. Regardless of how far you want to travel, and how long you would like to stay, off season will be cheaper and less crowded. Depending on where you go on the globe, their summer may be our winter. Weather is also an important consideration. Do you love the snow, or prefer a warm beach? It’s in your best interest to check the weather and skip hurricane season.
VisaHQ will tell you when you’ll need a visa. Most countries issue a tourist visa for 90 days. Research the countries requirements before furthering your travel plans.
If you’ve picked a country that requires a visa getting one can be fast, inexpensive, and easy. Your visa will electronically attach to your passport. Keep a screenshot of your confirmation for good measure.
Travel Health Clinics can tell you if you’ll need vaccinations. Travel clinics are fast, affordable, and thorough. If you get vaccinated be sure and get a hard copy of your records. Let’s say there is an outbreak of yellow fever in a country you’re visiting. A neighboring country may not grant your entrance from the country with the outbreak unless you have proof of vaccines.
Make sure your passport is good for at least six months. If you need to renew your passport before you leave there are companies with expedient services. Some have turn around times as quickly as 24 hours.
World Nomads provides travel insurance for a wide range of vacations. They cover no risk vacations, aerial safari expeditions, and almost anything else you can imagine. The insurance is affordable. It will come in handy if you need to get airlifted off an island. Read the policy before you press, “Buy now” to make sure you have the coverage you want.
You don’t need to be a backpacker to compare the cost of visiting places using the Price of Travel Backpacker Index. Price comparisons are per night for cities all over the world. You’ll have an overall feel for the cheapest cities in the world to visit.
Travel Transportation Tips
Travel transportation options vary as widely as destination options. Elephants, planes, trains, buses, tuk tuks, bicycles, and walking are all travel options. Although unconventional, hitch hiking during the day on a tiny remote island is an adventure. Are you going on an all-inclusive tour, or are you going solo?Transportation research can help you decide the destination of your epic dream vacation.
Although, you might find a cheap plane ticket, factor in the transportation time. The hours of travel might render the ticket cost prohibitive. Some destinations are breathtaking but getting there may prove too problematic.
Skiplagged App is an awesome airfare search tool. You can type in your starting point and do a search as broad as “anywhere”. You’ll see some amazing fares. You can search one way fares. A date and destination specific graph comes up showing tremendous price differences.
The Skiplagged graph has the $150 price for 9/21. Moving the dot at the bottom of the graph to 9/13 brings the price up to $349. If you book through this app you’ll be redirected to a list of well recognized travel booking sites to complete your reservation.
Rome2rio App tells you how to get anywhere and shows the travel and cost options. For example: Walk 125 feet to catch bus #32, to catch train #224 to Terminal B at the airport. This app will show you how to get to your destination. You can’t book tickets on Rome2rio but the search benefits are tremendous.
Senior Travel Tips for Accommodations
These senior travel tips for accommodations can make or break your travel budget.
Would you prefer a five-star hotel? Maybe you prefer an Airbnb where the whole house is yours. For cheaper rates some Airbnb properties rent just one room. Feeling adventurous? Book a bunk in a hostel for a completely different experience.
Staying in an Airbnb, or hostel gives you the option to cook meals. Eating out is great but the costs can add up quickly. If you enjoy cooking or just want to save money, both are great options.
Hostels are the cheapest accommodations and a great way to meet people from all over the world. Single seniors traveling alone may find hostels a refreshing change of pace.
Most guests are young and respectful but a fair amount of partying can be expected. Worst case scenario you saved money for a night and had an experience worthy of a great travel story.
Call the hostel before you book online. Some won’t rent a bunk to anyone over the age of 35. YHA (Youth Hostel Association) will book a bunk for anyone over the age of 16 and they’re all over the world.
According to Travel & Leisure, Honey Travel is a website offering better discounts than other booking sites.
This recently compiled and published list for Senior Travel Discounts from Thrifty Explorers highlights 73 travel related companies that offer exclusive discounts for seniors.
AAA, AARP and Veterans groups offer senior discounts.
If you’re booking a trip halfway around the world keep the International Date Line in mind. In some parts of the world you can fly five hours one way and arrive in yesterday.
Don’t Worry About the World Coming to an End Today, It’s Already Tomorrow in Australia”
~ Charles M. Schultz
Note: Many websites use the 24 hour clock. If a flight looks too good to be true, confirm whether the departure or arrival times are am or pm.
Travel Options for Free
Room and Board
I stayed in Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia and the Caribbean on Workaway spending 1-3 months in each location so I could immerse myself in the culture.
Workaway caters to hosts and volunteers. It’s an interesting senior travel option for free room and board.
You can join Workaway for $38 per year. You build your profile based on what kind of work you want to do. Then you can look anywhere in the world to see what volunteer opportunities are available.
Typically you work 24 hours a week in exchange for a bed and one or more meals. Most hosts require a minimum stay which is often a month. Some are two weeks or less and some a minimum of two months.
I’ve had a lovely private room on several Workaways. I’ve also roomed in an eight-bunk dorm with seven 20-something year olds for several months during my volunteer work in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Workaway reviews are left for hosts and volunteers so you can read about previous experiences. If you find something of interest contact the host via Workaway email.
Skype or Zoom before making a commitment or booking your airfare. Get to know your host, look around the property and get a feel for if the volunteer project is a good fit.
Apps and Websites For
Easier Senior Travel
Many apps can be problem solvers before, during and after your travels.
Senior Discounts App is for seniors 55+.
Medisafe App can make senior travel easier and has 19,000 reviews for a 4.7 star rating on the iOS App Store. Medication reminder, alarms, and a low prescription reminder among other options are valuable especially if you’re crossing multiple time zones. “Medifriend” is an option to sign in a family member or caregiver. Medifriend alerts them if you’ve missed medication.
Google Maps App has a parking spot reminder amongst numerous other features.
Be sure and download a Currency Convertor App so you’re clear on how much you’re spending in shops and while taking money out of an ATM! Getting a rough conversion rate in your head before you leave is helpful.
Does jet lag cripple you? Timeshifter App helps your body adapt as quickly as possible to a change in time zones. Plug in your itinerary and you’re given information for times you should try to sleep and times you should have 3 cups of coffee. The cost per trip is $9.99 or $24.99/yr.
Magnifying Glass App turns your iPhone into a magnifying glass with a light for those hard to read menus.
“You are Never Too Old to Set Another Goal
or Dream a New Dream”
~ C.S. Lewis
Follow Me is an App allowing a friend, or your kids to find you if you quit responding to email!
Google Translate is a great App that translates conversations, documents, menus, and websites on the spot.
WhatsApp is free to call anywhere in the world and perfect for keeping in touch with family and friends while you’re out of the country.
Note: T-Mobile has an excellent international plan with unlimited text and data so you can send as many photos and texts as you like. And, they have a 55+ senior discount.
Do You Really Need All That?
You want to look your best on your long awaited adventure. Most packing tips for senior travel are similar to other ages.
There might be times you end up having to carry whatever you pack. And, the longer the trip the heavier your bags will begin to feel.
Weigh your luggage before heading out the door to the airport. You don’t want to be at the check-in counter and have to move items from one bag to the next. Pack less! You can always buy something on vacation.
Pick clothes you can mix and match. Odds are you’ll wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. For longer trips include items that can be washed in a sink.
For carry-on I recommend one outfit, medications, toiletries, electronics, chargers, travel documents, a snack, flats or flip flops, and earplugs. I always pack a bikini (yes, I’m 59) because I’m a beach junkie and I consider that a necessity. I pack a ham sandwich with mustard and cheese because it can sit for a while and can get you through in a pinch.
Your checked bag is where you can slim things down. Packing cubes are tremendous for keeping organized. I use one for a pair of pants, two pairs of shorts and one skirt. Another one holds shirts, and a third one is for bikinis, underwear and a small jewelry box.
Leave your fancy jewelry at home. You don’t want to be a mark for thieves.
A practice run can help you decide what to bring.
Pack what you think you need in the bag you’ll check. Now take out what you would wear “today”. What activity would be happening in the evening? Take out the evening outfit too.
Practice this exercise for three days and you’ll reduce what you decide to bring.
Pack favorites you can wear more than once. Mix and match clothes that don’t show dirt as easily. A different outfit every day is unnecessary. Plus you’ll probably want to pick up something spectacular on your trip.
Note: I’ve seen a Tide Stain Stick work magic on a pair of white shorts.
Special Interest Cruises and Tours for Seniors Traveling Alone
Do you want to go on a special interest cruise or a tour for seniors traveling alone? There are several questions to ask yourself to ensure it’s an awesome fit.
Your options are endless depending on your destination and interest, age, activity level, and transportation preferences.
Consider how large the group will be and what amount of people you’re comfortable around. Will alone time fit in the picture? Are you at ease with new and unfamiliar faces?
Perhaps you’re interested in immersing yourself in a new culture or learning a new language.
Expedition Cruising is growing popular with women over 60. If activities similar to kayaking Alaskan rivers and hiking up glaciers are up your alley check it out. You won’t be lounging on the deck with a cocktail in hand. It’s adventure travel for those who want a down and dirty, no glitz, no internet type of adventure.
As a senior traveling alone you may not get a “single supplement” when booking a cruise or tour. Most rates are based on double occupancy. You can share a room with someone you’ve never met (which could be awesome…) or you can opt to pay more for your privacy.
Many senior travel tours and cruises offer special interest options.
Literary tours, wine or brewery tours, theatre, motorcycle and walking tours are just a few. The age of the group can vary quite a bit.
Vayable is a website where you can locate a tour guide. A local showing you around for an hour or two is a great way to see a new city. You’ll learn more about local customs, food and history. If you take a walking tour you’ll get your exercise too!
CruiseCritic.com is a valuable research tool.
Viking Cruises and Go Ahead Tours are recommended by the BlondeBrunette.com.
Voluntourism is a great way to give back to a cause you’re passionate about, see a new part of the world and immerse yourself in a new culture.
Special interest tours for seniors traveling solo are endless. Are you interested in sea turtle biology, or teaching children English in a tiny jungle village? You could help build a house for an underprivileged family. There is a place for you to make your volunteering dream a reality.
Most volunteer projects require you pay all your expenses. Some may be tax deductible. Find more information at Volunteer International.org.
Travel Groups and Clubs
Many travel groups and clubs cater to every type of senior traveler. Some are all inclusive or flex. You want to be clear on the terms since signup fees are significantly different.
Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) has 5,500 programs divided into theme based, intergenerational, outdoor adventures, service learning, adventures afloat and independent city discoveries. There are some scholarships for North Americans who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate but they’re very selective.
Smithsonian Journeys have classic land journeys, adventure journeys or you can design your own adventure.
Senior travel company Elder Trek was awarded Strides Best Guided Tours for Baby Boomers 2017. They specialize in small group adventure travel for travelers 50+.
Brand G Vacations (LGBT Travelers) has river cruises and land tours. “All Gay. All Inclusive. All Over the World.”
Check with BBB (Better Business Bureau) before booking with a company you’re not familiar with.
Single Travel (Also Suitable for Married People that Need a Break!)
Single senior travel need not be daunting.
If you opt to vacation solo in a new city take advantage of the free walking tour most cities offer. They’re a fantastic way to meet new people and get an excellent feel for your new surroundings.
Many all inclusive resorts cater to singles only. Numerous activities will make it a breeze to find other single senior travelers.
If golfing 18 holes a day is on your to do list double check to see if those fees are included along with any other activities you’re interested in. Check transportation, tipping and the fine print before you hand over your credit card so you’ll know exactly what to expect upon arrival.
“Don’t Be Scared to Walk Alone.
Don’t Be Scared to Like It.”
~ John Mayer
If you’ve never gone a cruise and have always shunned the idea, think again. More and more travelers are saying, “I never wanted to go on a cruise before but I loved it!”
Cruises make getting away and pampering yourself a breeze. You’ll be able to see some new sights in port and meet some new friends. With more activities and food imaginable you can simply relax or stay as busy as you desire.
CruiseCritic is a valuable research tool.
Feeling more adventurous?
Book a one way ticket and a room at a hostel.
On any given night there are usually 6+ countries represented by guests staying in any given hostel. They are much younger as a general rule but what they lack in age is made up for in the diverse backgrounds and cultures.
If you do choose the latter, be prepared for friends and family to shake their heads in dismay and question your sanity. Hopping on a plane by yourself with a reservation at a hostel is something they might find alarming. Your younger friends are more likely to applaud you.
If you would prefer a travel companion but haven’t got one in mind don’t despair.
Start by identifying your vacation goals and travel style before you seek out a travel companion.
What kind of accommodations are you interested in? Five star hotels or budget hostels?
Do you want to hike or take a helicopter to the top of Machu Picchu?
Fine dining or fast food?
What kind of sightseeing interests you? Do you prefer to sit and relax over a glass of wine or espresso, or spend hours in a museum?
You may find a suitable travel companion whose budget doesn’t match yours. Are you willing to pitch in?
After you’ve thought about these questions you can start your search.
Tell your friends and family you’re looking for a senior travel companion. If age isn’t an issue let them know that as well.
Your local Senior Center may have cultural classes with like minded people.
Talk to people at any organization you belong to about your travel goals.
Look for online travel groups in your area that have chat rooms and meet regularly. Meetup.com has a “50+ Singles Travel & Social Group”. You can also check out Tribe.net.
You’re options to find a travel companion are extensive.
Senior Travel With a Disability
Isn’t a Deal Breaker
You need to satisfy your desire to travel.
Senior travel with a disability isn’t a deal breaker!
Land, air or sea is the question.
Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality has tips and access information. Do your research before you book your trip.
“Life is Either a Daring Adventure
or Nothing at All”
~ Helen Keller
Numerous Tours and Cruises can make your senior travel with a disability delightful and carefree. With proper planning you can rest assured your comfort won’t be compromised.
TSA info: With advance notice a gate pass for anyone accompanying a person with special needs can be obtained.
Regarding airlines and carry on rules: One personal item and one carry on item does NOT apply to medical equipment, mobility aids, assistive devices or medical supplies. Always double check for the current rules.
If you need wheelchair assistance in an airport always call ahead. They’re happy to assist you.
Senior Travel Blogs to Fuel
Traveling the world will arm you with mind-blowing stories about far-away places. Keeping a journal is a great way to record your day to day adventures.
If you want to share your stories along the way with friends and family you may want to start a blog.
Reading senior travel blogs can fuel your wanderlust, give you new ideas for travel and tickle you with tales of mishap and glory!
Some of my favorite travel blogs:
Stripped of time constraints, your turn has arrived to travel the world.
Your Bucket List is calling you!
Your shameless want and need to navigate the Senior Travel experience is intoxicating.
The possibilities for mind-blowing adventures are limitless!
The Ultimate Guide for Senior Travel (100+ Rockin’ Travel Tips) will make planning and embarking on your travels both exhilarating and painless.
You have the tools you need to make your epic travel adventure happen!
Now, you’re ready to start checking destinations off your Bucket List!