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From safaris to European river cruises, older adult trips offer fun | #ukscams | #datingscams | #european | #datingscams | #love | #relationships | #scams | #pof | #match.com | #dating


Traveling is one of life’s enduring pleasures. And with CO­VID-­19 cases lower and vaccines readily available, it’s easier and safer to get on the road than it has been in the three years since the pandemic began.

That’s especially true if you’re over retirement age with time and resources to use toward exploring this reopened world of possibilities.

Many travel agencies and tour groups focus specially on helping older travelers do just that. Whether you’re looking for a month-­long cruise to Antarctica or a day of wine tasting in Napa, they can help make sure your trip is fun, safe, rewarding and doable within your particular budget and abilities.

Members of a tour group with Road Scholar are able to view many different animals in the Galapagos Islands, including seals.

Road Scholar

The first question older trav­elers should ask themselves is how much work and time versus money they want to put into their trip, said Vannessa Cendejas, who helps coordinate the city of Walnut Creek’s age­-50-­and-­up travel programming.

If money is tight, there are many ways to keep costs down: book your own tickets, opt to travel in the off or shoulder seasons or choose a hotel room including a kitchenette to save money on food, for example. But while the savings from this approach can be significant — Cen­dejas estimates she saved thousands on a recently­-planned European trip for herself — the hassle factor is considerable.

“It comes down to time,” she said. “If you don’t want to take the time to look through everything or you don’t know how, then go through a company you trust.”

Vickie Cole, the tour coordinator and co-­owner of American Stage Tours in Concord, believes tours are the best option for older adult travelers for exactly that reason, and she plans her company’s trips accordingly. On a mo­torcoach-­based tour, travelers can nap, read or make friends without worrying about how they’ll get from destination to destination or where they’ll get their next meal, she said. Many travelers even make friends for future travel.

“On board, people are often planning the next trip,” she said.

Plus, the best tours introduce you to hidden gems you’d have otherwise missed. Cole remembers one avid Southwest traveler on a recent trip who was moved by a visit to Indigenous ruins.

“I have been up and down this road for the last 50 years and never knew this existed,” she told Cole.

Older adults enjoy a tour at Castello di Amorosa Winery in Calistoga this past fall with American Stage Tours.

American Stage Tours

So how do you know which option is right for you? Cole recommends asking about topic, pace and activity level to ensure a tour’s activities fit your interests and you aren’t cramming in too many stops.

“You don’t want to be ex­hausted during your trip; you want to enjoy it,” she said.

Think about how many activities in a day would be too many or how often you would want to change hotels. That also includes considering your own physical limitations, an especially key question for older travelers.

Both Cendejas and Cole recommend looking for activity level markers in tour listings, which are often tiered to differentiate tours that require low-­level walking with those that involve daily five­-mile hikes. If you don’t have enough information, ask. Some questions might be, “Will this stop have benches and level access? If not, might there be a visitor’s center I could explore?”

Other practical planning considerations include insurance and security. Older travelers can be especially vulnerable to scams, Cendejas points out.
If you’re booking Eiffel Tower tickets, a Google search will turn up several unrelated websites with marked up prices — and maybe worse.

“Always go to the original source,” she said. And remember, “if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

If the worst does happen, longer tours often have insurance built in. Otherwise, both Cole and Cendejas call trip insurance a “very personal” decision, one that’s ultimately about how much money you’re comfortable risking.

Be mindful that most airlines and hotels will no longer provide a refund or credit if you need to cancel due to COVID­-19, so Cen­dejas suggests playing it safe and buying insurance for trips over $1,000. And Cole recommends checking whether an existing membership like AAA or a credit card account may already provide travel coverage. As with the tour itself, make sure you understand what will and won’t be covered under your policy.

Ready to book an adventure? Fabulous options abound!

Adventure travel

Walking the World offers walk­ing and hiking tours with a focus on travelers over 50. Their trips are physically challenging — depending on the trip, daily walks often top five miles — and take full advantage of the expansive views and pristine nature a good, long hike can offer.

An upcoming trip to Utah’s national parks will see you rambling through dry stream beds and along canyon rims to marvel at the famous Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, the ancient pictographs of Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument and the rocky wilds of Canyonlands’ Nee­dles region.

Another wildly scenic option will bring you to dramatic crags and through the charming villages of Norway’s fjords. There, you’ll enjoy scenic train rides, go on rambling cliff hikes and up to towering peaks and meet traditional goat and sheep herders. There’s even an opportunity to gear up and go for a walk on a glacier.

Older adults on a Walking the World tour at Arches National Park learn about the geography of Utah.

Older adults on a Walking the World tour at Arches National Park learn about the geography of Utah.

Walking the World

Or try a trip with ElderTreks, an adventure travel outfit specifically focused on out-­there destinations and unusual trips for travelers ages 50­-plus. Keep an eye out for tour ratings by ability — level one travelers should be able to walk a mile and hike an hour, level five should be up for five miles and five hours. Whichever your level, there’s bound to be an intriguing option.

Spend a month traveling through Central Asia with 15 other adventurers, visiting the bazaars of Bishkek, exploring the history of Tashkent and Samarkand and camping in the Turk­menistan desert overlooking a huge gas crater.

Island hop on a small plane across Papua New Guinea, ex­ploring Port Moresby, staying in local villages and attending a traditional “singsing” song and dance festival in the jungle.

Or visit the site of Madagas­car’s ancient summer palaces; hike through the country’s Ranomafana and Isalo national parks; and keep an eye out for lemurs and flying foxes, perhaps during a soak in Ranomafana’s famous thermal baths.

Cruises

Whenever anyone tells Cole of American Stage Tours that they’ve been to Alaska, she asks them what they saw.

“They’ll say they cruised from Whittier down to Vancouver,” she said. “They did not see Alaska. They saw a very small portion of it.”

An AmaWaterways boat cruises down the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary. The tour company offers seven-­night cruises through Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

An AmaWaterways boat cruises down the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary. The tour company offers seven-­night cruises through Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

AmaWaterways

Cole makes sure the Alaska trips she organizes are different. Before the cruise portion, she includes eight nights on land, along the Copper River, through Kenai Peninsula and in Denali National Park — then provides that classic cruise experience through to Vancouver.

“It’s one of my favorite places to go; I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Alaska,” she said. “You’re seeing the animals — grizzly bears, the moose, the caribou, the wolves. It’s a whole different place and absolutely gorgeous.”

If you’d rather trade mountains for the desert, try a Viking Cruise down the Nile. Viking focuses on travelers over age 50, and their ships are adults only, which can be a major boon for those who prefer their travel experiences to be child free. Plus, Viking ex­cursions and onboard entertain­ment focus on learning and culture. That means you’ll have lots of opportunities to bone up on your Egyptology — all the better to enjoy the magnificent temples of Luxor, a trip to the tombs of the Valley of the Kings and a ride to Horus’ Temple of Edfu in a traditional horse-­drawn wagon.

The Viking Cruise Osiris ship features a pool deck that guests can enjoy while cruising down the Nile.

The Viking Cruise Osiris ship features a pool deck that guests can enjoy while cruising down the Nile.

Adam Hillier

Or if European river cruising is more your speed, AmaWater­ways’ low-­slung river vessels ply the Danube and Rhine, offering a variety of tours filled with classi­cal music and culture. On a sev­en-­night cruise through Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic, explore some of the world’s most beauti­ful cities; buy goodies at the Great Market Hall in Budapest; tour an Austrian castle; and at­tend exclusive receptions where you can taste locally-­made wine and sample locally­-grown apri­cots.

International tours

Road Scholar, which was known as Elderhostel until it rebranded in 2010, continues to focus on travelers who love learn­ing, now with a name to match. Tour participants are generally over 50 and interested in lifelong learning through lectures, in­ the­ field education and exploration. Itineraries often come with suggested reading for before your trip.

That attitude brings extra richness and dimension to trips through the Galapagos Islands, where travelers are accompanied by both locals with a lifetime of knowledge and naturalists who’ve spent years training to make sense of the natural won­ders they’re seeing. Snorkel, hike and sail among the strange cacti, flightless cormorants, boobies, penguins and other unique wild­life that make this archipelago such a magical place.

Lucy Kapp, a traveller on a Road Scholar tour, poses with a giant tortoise on the Galapagos Islands.

Lucy Kapp, a traveller on a Road Scholar tour, poses with a giant tortoise on the Galapagos Islands.

Road Scholar

Or immerse yourself in the wild beauty of Glacier National Park in Montana, learning about the unique geology and ecology of this place as you drive, hike and boat through awe-­inspiring mountain, valley and river land­scapes. You can even opt for a “Grandparent tour” that’s tai­lored to multi­-generational expe­riences (think gondola rides, alpine slides and rafting togeth­er).

In a similar vein, Overseas Adventure Travel offers small­ group trips both on land and sea with a dizzying array of country visits on offer and an emphasis on engaging with local culture and issues. You might spend a week sailing the turquoise waters of the Turkish Mediterranean coast; wandering the spice market of Canakkale, meeting sponge fishers in Kalymnos and learning about the controversy around their work; and eating lunch at a local family’s home in the coastal mountains.

Or head to Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe for a classic safari with a modern twist. Your trip will alternate between game drives and boat rides looking for hip­pos, giraffes and other wildlife with discussions with locals about poaching and efforts to quell HIV.

Local tours

You don’t have to look far for local tours. Chances are good that your city or town has its own travel program, often through its recreation department. And if it doesn’t, a neighboring communi­ty will probably welcome you on board as one of their own, though some may have differing price tiers for residents and non­-residents.

“We have people trickle in from everywhere,” Cendejas said of Walnut Creek’s programs.

Upcoming trips Cendejas is excited about include a day out admiring the beaches and tasting local cheeses in Point Reyes and a ride on the Santa Cruz Beach Train through the area’s magnif­icent redwood groves. After CO­VID-­19 related delays, Walnut Creek is also restarting some of its overnight programming. Cen­dejas is particularly looking for­ward to an overnight jaunt down to the Cambria Christmas Mar­kets and Hearst Castle in winter 2023.

The city of Walnut Creek Senior Travel program allows older adults to enjoy local sights, like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Yerba Buena Gardens.

The city of Walnut Creek Senior Travel program allows older adults to enjoy local sights, like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Yerba Buena Gardens.

Monica Logan

American Stagecoach Tours also offers abundant local op­tions. Cole especially loves the tour she’s designed for Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Ne­vada mountains. That includes a three-­night stay in Yosemite Val­ley, featuring a classic lunch at the Ahwahnee and plenty of time to admire the cliffs and moun­tains and maybe even go swim­ming.

“We try to keep it not too busy because you need to enjoy your national park,” she said. “You don’t need to be going, going, going. Sit back, take in nature and relax.”

For a hyper-­local and low­-cost day out, take BART and try a tour with San Francisco City Guides, which offer free walking tours throughout the city. Soak in the peace, quiet and cultural history of Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden, appreciate the vi­brant culture of love still alive in the Castro or explore one of the city’s many tucked away staircas­es and their gorgeous views — all for free! (But don’t forget to tip your guide generously.)

In the era of the smartphone, travel help is just a few taps away. Here are a few of the apps to consider downloading before your next trip:

For organizing any complicated, multi-­pronged itineraries, try TripIt, which allows you to keep flight, hotel and rental car reservations all in one convenient place.

For safety in international travel, Vannessa Cendejas, who helps coordinate the city of Walnut Creek’s age-­50-­and­up travel programming, recommends Smart Traveler. Just enter the countries and cities on your itinerary, and the app will provide you with local embassy or consulate information, emergency contact numbers, information about any visa requirements and local health policies for COVID-­19 or other vaccines you might need.

Domestically, Cendejas recommends Roadtrippers.

“You can design your own itinerary based on where you’re going,” she said, and then the app will highlight opportunities for food, amusement and services. “It’s so cool and it’s free.”

For places where English is not widely spoken, Google Translate can help you make sense of your surroundings and even communicate in slow but real time with locals. If you make sure to download the local language for offline use, you won’t even need cell service or Wi­Fi for on-­the-­fly translation.

For individual trips where you’re looking for local restaurants and activities, try Tripadvisor or Viator, which offer lots of information and reviews on restaurants, tours, bars and more. Cendejas likes to use these apps as starting points, then book directly.

“I see who’s providing these tours and then go to their actual website,” she said, which avoids the potential up-charge of a third­-party site or app.

Ridesharing and taxi apps help make any trip easier and more convenient. Since Uber is the American ridesharing app with the most international reach, it’s a good bet as a pre-­trip download. But a quick internet search should also help you learn what ride-sharing apps are most popular at your destination — which can save you a bundle and get you out of a jam if you happen to get stuck far from your hotel.

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