Youth may be wasted on the young, but that doesn't mean that those 'of a certain age' and beyond are ready to throw in the towel just yet. Active seniors know that curiosity doesn't necessarily wane with age, and the voice of experience is always ready to add to its vocabulary. Retirement is often a gateway to travel opportunities that are finally within reach. The dilemma now is picking where to go.
Although most cruise lines do not cater exclusively to a senior crowd, they are generally frequented by an older, experienced clientele. The following cruises are great for seniors due to their high comfort level, value, and the mature clientele these venues attract.
The proportion of seniors on a cruise often rises in relation to the length of itinerary and luxury level of the cruise. For example, the Cunard Line, which features itineraries ranging from transatlantic crossings to round-the-world voyages, has designed its ships and onboard experiences to harken back to the golden days of ship travel, which no doubt appeals to a nostalgic, older clientele.
Alaskan cruises are another popular gathering spot for active seniors as the scenic cruising of natural wonders such as Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord offer a happy compromise between the rugged outdoors and the well-earned comforts of a senior traveler. Princess Cruise Lines and Holland America are excellent choices for balancing the demand for an elegant, subdued atmosphere, high standards of food and service, and value for the dollar spent that seniors appreciate.
If being at sea is less appealing than being on a boat, river cruises are also very popular for senior travelers, as many excursions are included in the price and the itineraries attract a mature crowd. Though generally more expensive than itineraries on the large cruise ships, the intimate nature of river cruising is appealing for those looking for elegant simplicity. Industry favorites are Viking and Avalon Waterways.
Cruising for Seniors
Regardless of the vessel, cruising works for couples, groups and even entire families looking to travel together. If you can relate to the words of a senior cruise expert from the popular cruise review website Cruise Critic, who said: "As someone whose first cruise was sailing with the Greeks to rescue Helen in the Trojan War ..." perhaps you'll be glad to increase your experience on the briny and explore those ports of call you've been meaning to get to for a lifetime.
Golfing by its nature is a group activity, and all suggestions mentioned here can be booked as such. The appeal of St. Andrews to seniors is in its bucket list nature and golfing in Florida and the Caribbean means year-round golfing for snowbirds and retirees.
If you couldn't wait to trade in your business suit for a Nine Iron, then perhaps a trip to golf's ancestral birthplace of St. Andrew's Old Course should be on your radar. As one senior traveler put it: "Just to walk the grounds at St Andrew will give you a thrill," and described it as a "once in a lifetime experience." A company called Golf International offers packages to not only get you to Scotland but on the course as well. It might require you to dip into the kids' inheritance to afford it, but hey, you've earned it.
For those wishing to stay closer to home, Links Magazine, a golf enthusiast publication, not surprisingly lists Florida as the top 'golf' state. With warm weather year-round and an abundance of courses, the Sunshine State is a great place for those looking to spend their retirement hopping from fairway to fairway. Tee Times USA has a booking engine that will allow you to shop and book a golf vacation throughout the state as well as other courses around the country.
Another option that balances golf time and leisure time is to book an all-inclusive resort that includes golf in its included amenities. Couples-only Sandals Resorts offers unlimited play and greens fees to all guests at their Jamaica and St. Lucia properties. Guests in butler-level service at the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort in the Bahamas enjoy the same privileges on an 18-hole course designed by golfing legend Greg Norman.
A seasoned palate and hunger for knowledge are prime ingredients for culinary travel. For those who have spent a lifetime expanding their repertoire or pursuing their favorite meal, just such an excursion will sate the active senior's appetite for lunch and knowledge.
Italy is one of the cooking capitals of the world, and USA Today taps Bluone's Wine and Cooking Tours as some of the best. With packages in various regions of Italy, each with their own cuisine, enjoying La Dolce Vita is simpler than ever.
Of course, tastes vary. If you'd rather trade your pasta for something spicier, Epitourean offers Mexican cooking tours that allow you to learn and taste the best that Mexico has to offer. They offer similar options for the United States and worldwide destinations as well.
The working-age person's dream is often to run off to the mountains and watch the world go by. Well, now's your chance to live the dream. Mountain retreats exist for all budgets and can be enjoyed in groups or alone. Each of these mountain retreats is a great idea for seniors in view of the wide arrange of activities, natural splendor, and opportunity to enjoy them with or without the family. The rest is just geography.
For a luxury experience without the kids (or grandkids), the Triple Creek Resort in Western Montana was voted one of America's best mountain resorts by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Packages include accommodations in a private luxury cabin, all meals including house wines and spirits, as well as senior-friendly activities such as fly-fishing and guided birding and nature tours.
Also making Travel + Leisure's best mountain resort list is The Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa. This is a more economical option that still provides access to the joys of leisure time in the mountains - this time in Upstate New York's Adirondacks. One senior reviewer said, "The hotel can be sold out, but you feel as though you've got the whole place to yourself," which attests to the peace and quiet mature visitors are seeking. Activities vary by season but include golf, tennis, heated indoor pools, afternoon tea and all sorts of active adventures.
For many, retirement is a chance to hit the open road, and with an RV you can bring your hotel with you as you visit some of the best scenery accessible by vehicle. When it comes to value for your money, your pension dollars can go as far as you're willing to drive. History, scenery and a gamut of outdoor activities make these RV destinations a great option for the traveling senior.
Durango, Colorado is a destination well-served by RV parks and resorts, and it offers visitors plenty of activities and sights worth seeing. Particularly noteworthy is the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad - a steam train in continuous operation since 1882. In addition, the town boasts a historic Old West downtown with museums and art galleries, as well as proximity to hiking and horseback riding in nearby Mesa Verde National Park, allowing active seniors the chance to exercise both mind and body.
The Canadian Province of Nova Scotia is best visited by car and visiting with an RV allows the possibility to see the best this maritime province has to offer up close and personal. With plenty of campgrounds and RV parks to go along with world-class attractions such as the Bay of Fundy and Peggy's Cove. At the famous Cabot Trail, active seniors can enjoy hiking, biking and kayaking amid stunning Atlantic scenery. If you'd rather spend your time at sea, whale watching and deep sea fishing excursions will keep you occupied.
Warm Weather Escapes
If winter is not your thing, there are lots of places where snow birding seniors can spend their time in the sun, not the snow. Both at home and abroad, avoiding winter altogether has never been so much fun. Seniors who love history, culture and the great outdoors will enjoy either of these balmy locales. Whether in a desert canyon or high in the Andes, adventurous seniors can both stay warm and keep active.
Arizona is a popular destination for heat and adventure seekers everywhere. Seniors can enjoy the warm weather hiking in Grand Canyon National Park, playing a round of golf in one of Phoenix/Scottdale's renowned courses, or soaking in the healing vibes of Sedona's many spas.
If you'd rather be both warm and travel abroad, Ecuador's capital of Quito will fit the bill nicely. Recommended by senior stalwart AARP Magazine as one of the '6 Sunniest Places to Go this Winter', Quito offers a plethora of historic sites, a gorgeous Andes setting and warm weather year round. Adventurous seniors can expand their minds horizons by booking a package with Road Scholar, formerly known as Elder hostel, a company known for educational tours. If Quito isn't warm enough, the mighty Amazon Rain Forest is only a few hours away.
Making Your Decision
The best part about deciding where to travel as an active senior is that there are no wrong answers. It all depends on your time, health and available budget, with suitable destinations for all shades of that spectrum. The key is being informed, and now that you are, it's time to get out there and make those golden years truly golden.