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Love to Travel, But Not so Keen on the Trip Planning? Consider a Senior Travel Tour

February 10, 2023

Retirement typically makes traveling easier: You’re not limited to a specific allotment of time because of work. You don’t have to plan around school breaks (unless you’re taking the grandkids with you). And most likely, your choice of destinations is wide open.

Although many people plan to travel more after they retire, any number of reasons — including procrastination — can keep them from following through on their intentions.

Even those who previously were avid travelers have had to curb their wanderlust the last few years. Fortunately, most options are open again for both domestic and international travel.

So, if you’re itching for a change of scenery, it may be time to dust off the luggage and go!

Advantages of Travel Tours for Seniors

Planning a trip can be time-consuming and the checklist lengthy, especially when traveling abroad. Leaving the details to a dependable tour operator can lead to a more pleasant experience even before you leave home.

Along with making transportation and lodging arrangements, a travel tour company can:

  • Inform you of any documentation requirements (e.g., visas) and vaccinations that might be necessary if you’ll be traveling to a foreign country
  • Advise you on matters such as currency exchange, travel insurance (including coverage for emergency medical assistance) and how to address potential language barriers
  • Offer tour options you might not be aware of otherwise, such as special interest tours, volunteer vacations and tours with less impact on the environment
  • Help you avoid potential single supplement fees if you’ll be traveling solo (Overseas Adventure Travel, for example, touts its “solo women experience”)

Additionally, many tour operators offer a selection of trips designed with older adults in mind. For instance, they may specialize in walking tours based on the degree of physical challenge involved (i.e., easy, moderate or advanced). Most senior tour operators also have options for travelers who use assistive devices for mobility.

You may also find that you feel safer when traveling as part of a group.

What to Look for in a Senior Tour Program

When you start searching for a tour operator, it may be helpful to have in mind where you want to visit, how you want to get there and how long you want to stay. Some specialize in trips to certain destinations or a specific mode of transportation, whereas others offer a wider variety of options.

On the other hand, if you’re open to suggestions, you may want to see what types of tours are available through various businesses and organizations. AARP® is a good place to start, particularly if you’re already a member.

Read online reviews and check the Better Business Bureau® website to make sure a tour operator you’re considering is legitimate. Then, read the fine print on everything before you sign up or pay a deposit.

See what’s included in the tour package and what extras there may be — like the single supplement fees mentioned earlier. Those can turn out to be quite expensive.

When possible, find out how experienced the tour guides are and whether you’ll be able to interact with your guide. The smaller the group size, the more likely that will be.

If you’re going to shop several tour operators to see which offers the best price, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. If meals and tips are included in a tour package that’s only slightly more expensive, it may be the better deal. Or, you may discover that a cheaper package doesn’t include air fare.

Check out the itineraries, too. You may find some more appealing than others. Some tour operators allow you to customize the activities to better align with your interests and energy level.

Today’s Tours Go Well Beyond Sightseeing

If you’re a first-time traveler or have only limited experience, you may not be aware of just how many options are available. In addition to the destination, you can choose tour packages based on:

  • Group size (cruises, large bus tours, small group tours, custom tours)
  • Transportation (some people love taking tours by train!)
  • Length of stay (in some cases, you can choose to spend several weeks or even months if you want to immerse yourself in the local culture)
  • A specific activity (e.g., hiking, bicycling or bird watching)
  • Interest (e.g., cuisine, history and culture, art, opera, genealogy or nature/wildlife)

Businesses With a Focus on Tours for Seniors

As noted earlier, AARP is a helpful source — not only for tours but for travel tips as well. You may also want to take a look at these:

  • Road Scholar® – Tours center on lifelong learning opportunities; also offers Grandparent Adventures for those who want to travel with their grandkids
  • TravelStride – Information hub featuring hundreds of tour companies
  • ElderTreks – Small group exotic adventures for adults who are 50 or older
  • Access Tours — Tours of the American West; see their profile on TravelStride
  • Walking the World — Good selection of immersion tours in more than 30 destinations
  • Adventures Abroad – Small group tours for adults age 50+ in 120 countries
  • Firebird Tours® – Mostly European tours, offering themed, private and small group tours
  • Globus® – Many categories of tours, including “undiscovered” destinations
  • Trafalgar – Tours in 72 countries and on all seven continents
  • Grand Circle Travel – River and small ship cruises, land tours, solo-friendly
  • YMT Vacations™ – Land tours, river cruises and combination tours featuring destinations on every continent
  • Senior Cycling – Bicycle tours for adults age 50+ in the U.S. and Canada; hybrid bike rentals available
  • Vacations by Rail – Train vacations and ocean and river cruises in the U.S., Europe and Canada

Senior Travel Clubs

An online search of senior travel clubs will turn up many of the organizations listed above, but this category also includes smaller groups, like those you may learn about at your nearby senior center or place of worship. Other senior travel clubs are affiliated with volunteer organizations or local chapters of organizations such as the American Hiking Society.

Some travel clubs charge an annual membership fee. Due diligence is particularly important if you’re contemplating a trip offered through one of these smaller groups.

As an alternative, you may want to start your own travel club, beginning with a few family members and close friends. Everyone can pitch in and help with the trip-planning process, and you may be eligible as a group for discounts that aren’t available to solo travelers.

Living at Emerald Heights Makes Traveling Easier

Travel is a favorite pastime for many residents of our community — in fact, some deliberately chose to live here because it’s so easy to simply lock the door and go whenever they want. There’s no need to worry about their home while they’re away.

Plus, whether they’re in independent living or assisted living, being here at Emerald Heights frees up more of their time for adventures near and far.

If you’re a globetrotter at heart or you enjoy an occasional excursion closer to home, you’ll find that living at Emerald Heights is the perfect home base. The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is about half an hour away, and several cruise lines sail out of Seattle. If you prefer road trips, there’s a multitude of choices for day trips, overnight stays and longer getaways.

Let us know if you’d like to make a visit to Emerald Heights part of your travel plans. We’ll happily set up a time to show you around.