For retirees who have waited for their golden years to travel, senior travel groups offer a number of benefits socially as well as financially.
Senior Travel Groups with Purpose
For single or widowed seniors, senior travel groups offer opportunities to meet others within their age range who hold similar interests. However, travel groups for seniors are much more than a way to meet people. They provide opportunities that cater to a wide range of interests from learning tours to adventure travel and volunteering opportunities.
For those who believe you're never to old to learn, or enjoy traveling to pursue an interest or hobby, learning tours provide unique travel experiences.
The Road Scholar program, formerly known as Elderhostel, Inc., offers small group travel in the United States, Canada and internationally. Programs include everything from outdoor adventure-type tours to cruises, train treks, historical studies or visits to National Parks. Check their travel website for the full spectrum of choices.
For those on a limited budget, AARP suggests taking advantage of free walking tours found in a number of cities in the United States as well as overseas. These tours are led by locals who can provide interesting details that tourists won't hear elsewhere.
Tours include opportunities such as:
- Global Greeter Network: Touring Chicago, Houston, and New York along with cities in Australia, Canada, England, France and the Netherlands
- Sandemans New Europe: Free walking tours led by locals in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Dublin, Edinburgh, Hamburg, London, Jerusalem, Madrid, Munich, Paris, Prague and Tel Aviv
Senior Group Adventure Travel
Plenty of baby boomers ages 50 and over want to not only travel with a group of people within their age group, but also want their travels to be adventurous. This can include activities that are water-related, such as: kayaking, canoeing, fishing and rafting, or may include taking in the scenery with a hike, riding horseback or some other physical activity. The important thing to consider when traveling with a senior group on an adventure such as this is that you'll have to be in moderately good physical shape. You can find a number of resources that provide adventurous group travel for seniors. Here are a few of them:
Senior Volunteer Vacations
Many seniors volunteer in their communities, but not everyone is aware of the opportunities to volunteer while on vacation. A number of projects and agencies have a history of long-term projects perfect for seniors to contribute their skills and time while on vacation:
Finding the Right Travel Group
A number of factors should be taken into consideration when choosing the right travel group for you. First, if you want to travel with seniors, the first criteria will be to consider groups comprised of people 50 years and older. Second, you'll want to determine what is important to you as you travel. This can include things like your budget for the trip as well as what you want to do on your vacation and where you want to go. As you plan, items to consider include:
- Free time available vs. scheduled activities
- Difficulty level of, and pace of, activities
- High end, all-inclusive vs. budget tours
Benefits of Traveling as a Group
Traveling as a group offers a number of benefits. Groups can save money on transportation and hotels and tours are a great way to meet other seniors. Another benefit often overlooked is the safety afforded when traveling as a group. For instance, tours require different levels of physical ability. Group tour guides will make the level of difficulty known to groups, whereas this information is often overlooked for those who are traveling independently.
No matter what kind of group you decide to travel with, it is important to plan well before leaving. If you have special needs, contact the travel group coordinator to find out if the tour or trip can accommodate your needs. For information on accessibility while traveling, visit Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality to see if the areas you plan to visit can accommodate your needs. If you've never traveled with a group, you may want to consider a senior travel club to help make the process easier. Once you get information on a group, read the literature, including the fine print, and be sure to check with the Better Business Bureau to be sure the group you've chosen is reputable.
Enjoy Your Vacation
Planning your trip well will ensure that the vacation is not only fun-filled and informative or adventurous, but also relaxing and energizing at the same time. Trips that go off without a hitch leave you free to enjoy every minute of every activity.