A common misconception about seniors is they’re not fond of traveling. This is quite far from the truth. Research indicates that global tourism is a growing industry that baby boomers—those born between 1946 to 1964—are slowly taking interest in. Furthermore, surveys show that one in four private tourism nights in the UK were booked by seniors over 65.
What’s more, is that retirees have the time and money to go on almost any dream destination they’ve ever yearned for. The only problem is they might not have the energy or power to do so anymore. Studies show that muscle mass and strength can drop by 30% to 50% sometime between the ages of 30 and 80—not to mention the mobility issues and physical conditions that come with aging.
However, these limitations do not mean you should completely forego traveling. Trust us, locking up inside your room for the rest of your retirement is just as mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting as any minor injury you might get from visiting different destinations. You just have to be extra careful with planning your trip.
Benefits of Traveling for Seniors
With all these limitations, should you just cancel all your travel plans? Definitely not! Traveling offers an array of benefits, including the following:
If you feel like you’ve been stuck doing the same mundane things every day since you stopped working, then you’re definitely due for an out-of-town getaway. Going on vacations and traveling to new destinations has always been a popular way to de-stress.
Now, the act of traveling in itself doesn’t alleviate symptoms of stress. It is a normal activity that has different effects on varying people. What helps the mind and body recover from the stress of daily life, however, is being away from one’s usual environment. Everyone needs to take a break once in a while—even seniors.
Improved Overall Physical Health
Whether you’ll be flying to Alaska with the kids or driving to Las Vegas with your old college buddies, traveling will involve a lot of moving. At the very least, expect to do a lot of walking on your trip.
For maximum health benefits, we urge you to visit destinations far from all the noise and pollution of the urban jungle. Go to the woods, beach, mountains, or even hot springs. Traveling to any location that isn’t filled with suffocating smog, towering concrete structures, or noisy cars will definitely improve your overall health and well-being.
Surveys show that many seniors are afraid to lose their independence. The lack of mobility combined with age-related physical changes limits one from performing even simple activities such as using the toilet, showering, or eating.
A solid way to regain one’s independence is by going on quick getaways. Activities like riding planes, visiting new locations, or trying exotic food are the confidence boosters seniors need to feel more in control of their lives.
Best Senior-Friendly Destinations for Post-Retirement Traveling
Here are five senior-friendly travel destinations safe for retirees suffering from poor mobility, dexterity, and other complications:
National parks with rigorous trails like the Yosemite or El Capitan aren’t very senior-friendly, which is a shame because of the beautiful scenery. If you’re looking for a destination that isn’t as taxing on the aging body as these mountains but still offers plenty of activities for visitors of all ages, try Yellowstone.
Yellowstone is the oldest and arguably one of the most popular or most visited—second only to the Grand Canyon—among the 60+ national parks in the U.S. The park is located in the state of Wyoming.
What makes Yellowstone a popular tourist attraction are the fascinating sceneries and environmental marvels exclusive to this location. They have mind-blowing geysers, breathtaking canyon formations, and spectacular deep-blue lakes.
Pro Tip: If you’re into national parks like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or Bryce Canyon, opt to get a Senior Pass for huge discounts and freebies. The lifetime pass is at $80, while the annual pass is only at $20.
If you’re looking for a unique, one-of-a-kind experience without needing a Visa or even leaving the country, book a trip to Alaska. It’s a beautiful state up in the northwest that offers a wide range of activities.
First, if you want to just kick back and relax during your trip, book a cruise. There are dozens of cruise ships that pass regularly through the waters of Alaska. Here you can immerse yourself in the diverse Alaskan food scene while taking in the breathtaking view. You don’t have to travel far to see towering glaciers, monstrous whales, and adorable otters.
Second, seniors who want something more active can opt for land and water excursions. Go on hiking trips to see the proud American bald eagles up close or paddle a kayak alongside the otters in the deep-blue sea. Just make sure to pack multiple jackets as the Alaskan weather can get extremely cold, even in the summers.
Last, for those who have a bit of money to burn, experience the beauty of Alaska 15,000 feet above the ground while riding a helicopter. Flightseeing is quite popular among the wealthy. There’s something unique and intoxicating about getting a bird’s eye view of everything that Alaska has to offer.
3. Machu Picchu
The ancient architectural and engineering genius of the Inca ruins in Machu Picchu is something everyone has to see at least once in their lifetime. No words can ever describe how spectacular these ruins are. The one-of-a-kind, breathtaking scenery combined with the unsolved mysteries behind them are what make the Inca ruins one of the modern eight wonders of the world.
A common misconception about traveling to Machu Picchu is that the trip would involve a lot of walking. Yes, you can walk the Incan ruins if that’s what you’re into. However, for seniors suffering from mobility issues, you can opt to board the train from Cusco. It’ll be a quick ride, but you’ll still get to enjoy the beautiful sceneries from the windows—make sure to pick a window seat.
One way to maximize your trip to Machu Picchu is to book a travel guide. It doesn’t matter whether you’re hiring a private guide for your family or are joining a tour group as a solo traveler, just make sure someone’s there to guide you. After all, a huge part of the experience is learning mind-blowing facts about the rich history and culture of the Inca ruins that dates back to more than five centuries ago.
Want to explore something entirely different from the Western culture you grew up in? Let’s take a trip to Thailand. With a meager population of just under 70 million, Thailand is a relatively small country in Southeast Asia, yet despite it’s small size, it has quickly become a popular tourist attraction as well. The Land of Smiles (Thailand) has a lot to offer for all types of travelers.
The first thing you have to do is try out their food. If you think Alaskan cuisine is unique, then you’re in for a surprise. Here in Thailand, you’ll get to enjoy a wide range of delicacies that consists of various animals and insects you never even thought were edible—don’t worry, these are clean. Don’t be too scared to try new foods. Who knows, you might even like some of the exotic dishes they serve.
Second, their beaches are to die for. Sure, beaches on the coast of Florida are great. However, there’s something magical about the untouched virgin islands in Thailand. The white sand, crystal-clear blue waters, and fresh breeze are things you’ll only experience in the undeveloped areas of Asia.
Finally, the foreign exchange rate favors the U.S. dollar over the Thai Baht. Your money will be worth a lot more here. In fact, you can book a room at a five-star hotel for just one or two hundred dollars a night.
5. South Africa
Let’s face it, we’ve all wanted to go on an African safari at least once when we were kids. The experience of getting up close and personal with the wild, exotic beasts you’ll only see in Africa is nothing short of exhilarating. The animals you see at the zoo don’t hold a candle to these wild creatures.
For seniors with mobility issues, we suggest signing up for a tour group. That way, you can enjoy the African safari in the most hassle-free way possible: while riding an all-terrain vehicle. Plus, having a tour guide who’ll share facts with you is a must.
Pro Tip: The top five jungle animals to watch out for are the Cape buffalos, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and of course, lions.
Should you travel even in old age? Yes! You’ve spent the past decades grinding and selflessly putting your family’s needs above everything else. Now that you’re retired and your dependents have become fully capable of living independently, it’s time to see everything else that the world offers.
To ensure your safety throughout your trips, we strongly urge consulting with a medical professional beforehand. Have them assess what travel restrictions and limitations you should be aware of.
Also, engage in various other physical activities for seniors that promote health and wellness. Traveling is great, but you’ll only get the most out of your experience if you’re strong and energetic enough. Even a seven-day cruise over the deep-blue lagoons in Bora Bora won’t be fun if you’re not even allowed to eat a bit of meat or participate in the games.
Which of these locations would you first visit? Share your senior-friendly travel itinerary with us in the comments section below!