Over 50s travel guide

Over 50’s travel guide


2 minute summary

First things first. The author of this guide has passed the 50 mark and, like most travellers, doesn’t feel any different about travel. 18-30 clubbing holidays were probably never your thing anyway if you find yourself on the Responsible Travel website. For many, if you have been busy parenting, you are possibly fitter and more open to adventure than you were 20 years ago, with more time to hike, cycle, swim or kayak than before, now that children are older and you have a bit more time. So let them worry about you adventuring up the Alps, dancing around Cuba, backpacking around Burma or trekking through the Rwandan rainforest in search of gorillas.
Our Over 50’s holidays travel guide is not about bucket lists. They are holidays that allow you to take the time to immerse yourself in a culture, an activity or a landscape. About having a special 50th (or 60th…) birthday celebration. About going solo and not giving a damn. So, forget the bucket. Just book it.
See our Over 50’s travel guide for more details.
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If you'd like to chat about over 50's travel or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
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What we rate & what we don't


RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL’S BEST & WORST

Underrated

Sea kayaking in Croatia Walking trails in Japan Wildlife holidays Tasmania

Sea kayaking in Croatia

Or indeed anywhere, but Croatia has one of the best sea kayaking infrastructures, expertise and of course exquisite seascapes, with its burgeoning, beautiful archipelago. This is one of those activities you are never too old to try. Most holidays give beginner techniques, and sea kayaking holidays are about paddling slowly and gently, so that you can enjoy the coves and secret hideaways that are on offer.

Walking trails in Japan

If you have read any Murakami, then Japan’s forests, mountains and coastal pathways must be calling. Just as Murakami seduces us into his beautiful world, so do the Nakasendo and Kumano Kodo long distance walking trails. Both following ancient footsteps of Samurai on the former, or pilgrims on the more southern and spiritual, shrine-bedecked Kumano Kodo Trail. Places where you can ‘Hear the Wind Sing’.

Wildlife holidays

Safaris in South Africa, Kenya or Botswana, for example, are high on anyone’s list. But remember that the wildlife world stretches way beyond Africa. And beyond the back seat of a jeep. Go see Rajasthan’s tigers in the morning, and camel trek through desert in the afternoon. Explore the glories of the Galapagos aboard a traditional schooner, or do some serious trekking into Rwanda’s rainforest to watch gorillas in the mist.

Tasmania

One of the Australia’s best kept secrets, and not just for tagging onto a trip to see the rellies. Spend a couple of weeks taking in its 19 national parks (yes, nnnnnn-nineteen), every day offering a different view, whether you are hiking on the Cradle Mountain Overland Track, bushwalking in the northernmost Narawntapau NP, or blissing out on one of its 300 islands. Oh, and fine food and wine. Tassie-tastic.

Rated

Beyond the cities Walking holidays Sri Lanka Italy

Beyond the cities

Seeing a few more of those cities you have always wanted to see is wonderful, but do take time to check out what lies just beyond them. Dubrovnik is gorgeous, but Mljet National Park offers idyllic island cycling only two hours away for. Florence is not to be missed, but hiking through Tuscany or Umbria paints a whole other pretty picture. And Edinburgh always rocks, but so do Scotland’s rail holidays.

Walking holidays

Going on a walking holiday doesn’t equate with slowing down in life. It just means you appreciate the true meaning of slow travel. Now one of the most popular ways to holiday among people of all ages, as many of us are craving a need to get back to nature. Eat local food and engage with local people as you walk the Lycian Way in Turkey, the Tour de Mont Blanc or even the Inca Trail.

Sri Lanka

Famed for years for its glamorous colonial scene, as well as Paul Theroux’s 1975 hit travel journal, The Great Railway Bazaar, this vibe still exists. But post tsunami, many Sri Lankans have taken ownership of their fine attractions and trained expert guides, in both cultural and natural heritage. They offer homestays, take pride in their superb culinary prowess, Ayurvedic skills and wildlife watching – including whales.

Italy

Who doesn’t love Italy? By your 50s the chances are you have already been at least once. However, there are always more beautiful landscapes waiting in the wings, more wines to drink, and gourmet gorgeousness to indulge in. Hike in Umbria, snowshoe on Mount Etna, cross country ski in the Dolomites, or cycle in Puglia. Ramble the Riviera and then just chill on Capri. Because everywhere, la via è bella.

Overrated

Cruises Second homes Car hire Piste palavers

Cruises

So long the clichéd domain of the mature traveller, perceived as an easy way to see the world. But you also have to go easy ON the world. Unlike the giant polluting behemoths. To make life easier, opt for a tailor made holiday to suit all your needs, and set you up with a local driver guide in India, or eco resorts in Vietnam or Burma. Whatever suits you, sir. Or just go for a smaller boat - on a small ship cruise.

Second homes

Who wouldn’t love a second home on, say, the French Riviera? Most of the French to be honest. You may be the exception to the rule, use it lots and leave plenty of money in the local economy. But the fact is there are over two million empty homes in France at any one time. Mass second ownership nearly always creates community resentment too. In short, rarely is it the epitome of responsible tourism.

Car hire

Sometimes it is necessary, but consider a self-guided walking or cycling holiday instead, where your bags are transported for you from one hotel to another. SO much more fun, no arguing over maps (except OS ones), take things at your own pace, and see the country properly. Not from behind a wheel, with a GPS shouting at you. Or go on a small group holiday and hand over your keys and all hassles to an expert guide.

Piste palavers

Either you have been going downhill skiing every year for as long as you can remember, or you have never skied and think you are too old to start. Downhill is a disaster environmentally anytime, and beginners can learn to cross country ski or snowshoe, well away from the chalet brigade and piste posers, in cool places like the Carpathians, or Lapland, where you can also do incredible husky sledding.

What do we mean by 'over 50s holidays'?


There's no such thing as over 50s holidays

We absolutely do not mean that we have a load of dusty old holidays, where no ‘under 50s’ are allowed. In fact, at Responsible Travel we don’t like to put our travellers in boxes at all. Whether you are looking for an over 50s, 60s, 70s or, to infinity and beyond holiday, travel is about freedom, crossing boundaries, engaging with new cultures, young and not so young. Most of all travel is life affirming, and who doesn’t seek that once they cross the 50 mark? It doesn’t mean they have to travel with people their own age. The world isn’t made up of age groups. Only stupid boxes on forms are.

The reason we have written this Over 50s holidays guide is to share with you some of our favourite spots or activities that you may not have thought about already, for whatever reason. Maybe your children have just reached the age when holidays en famille are not the cool thing to do. You may have spent the last 10 to 20 years of holidays seeing relatives, camping, booking a resort, or renting a house with friends in the country - because the kids love that. But now you have, hopefully, a bit more time to think about the types of trips YOU want to do.

Or you may not have children, and have travelled independently for years, but want to give the small group holiday thing a go, or take on a self-guided or tailor made holiday, because you are fed up sorting out all the logistics yourself – or you fancy trying out somewhere a bit more adventurous, where travelling independently could be tough.
Small group holidays
We also want to take this opportunity to sing the praises of small group holidays. Sometimes, the notion of a small group holiday makes 50-somethings nervous. Memories of 18-30s holidays, or worse, school trips. But the world has changed. Small group holidays run by responsible companies have really sussed not only sustainability, but also solo travel and mixed generational travel.
On a small group holiday, which could be anything from hiking the Tour de Mont Blanc, to traversing Indochina, everything is taken care of. The companies we represent on Responsible Travel know their destinations like the back of their hand, work with local experts, know the best times to travel, how to avoid the crowds, how to keep you safe and, very importantly, how to make sure you have the time of your life.
Small group tour sizes can range from two to 24 travellers, but the usual numbers are between four and 16 people, with an average of about 12. You won’t be bussed everywhere either; small group holidays are SO not coach holidays, so let that one go. They may use local transport, comfortable yet compact sprinter coaches or specially designed overland vehicles – or you hike or bike from one place to the next. Whatever one you opt for, all the worrying is done for you. You just have to get up in the morning and enjoy the adventure.
Age & accommodation
Age ranges on a small group holiday vary, and you can check with your tour operator what the average age might be, and also they will always give detailed guidance as to fitness levels required. Although in our experience, especially on hiking and cycling holidays, it is the 50+ holiday makers who are in it for the long haul.
If you are travelling alone, you may want to have your own room instead of sharing a room with someone of the same gender, in which case you usually have to pay a solo supplement. But all those details are given to you well in advance.

Over 50’s holidays for single travellers


GOING SOLO

At Responsible Travel we have had much debate over whether to talk about holidays for singles or solo travellers. We tend to plump for the latter, as we believe that your relationship status is irrelevant to your holiday choices, right? Right. What is relevant is that you are looking for a cool holiday and you are travelling alone. End of. The rest is your story. You may have concerns about travelling alone, if you haven’t done it before. Or you may be a dab hand at it and totally cool. Our role is to try and help answer a few of the questions that frequently come up when chatting with solo – or single – travellers over 50.

I would love to go to such and such a destination, but am nervous about going on my own


Small group holidays are a gift to solo travellers. Let go of the image of coach trips full of pensioners with their flasks and sandwich boxes. These are carefully crafted holidays with two vital features: A finely honed itinerary, based on years of local expertise and inside knowledge, and a highly trained and passionate local guide or tour leader. Look at the reviews on our site and most of them mention the guide. You will never feel nervous travelling alone when you are in the hands of an expert tour leader. And we aren’t talking about someone who marches around with an umbrella, citing off this detail and that. They might be highly trained mountain leaders, cycling experts, or just people who really understand what it is to immerse yourself properly in another culture, sussing out the best restaurants that other tourists don’t know about and so on. Yet not doing everything for you either. Just gently encouraging you to dip your toes into a country that is new to you and feel how lovely it is. So, all in all, you are in safe and extremely sussed hands.

Will I always be able to have my own room and, if so, will I have to pay a supplement?


In most cases, you will be able to get a room of your own. Even if you are camping, a solo tent is usually provided. If you are staying in a mountain refuge, for example, while trekking on Mont Blanc, there won’t be single rooms. However, there is nearly always a solo supplement, sorry. It is just how it works economically, as we work with a lot of small businesses and accommodations. If you share a room it costs them a lot less, simple as that. However, there are exceptions to the rule, such as small ship cruise holidays, where there is often a single cabin, or some of our yoga, wellness and fitness holidays, where guesthouses are switched on to the fact that not everyone wants to share, and so they have rooms to cater for you, at no extra charge. Travelling outside peak season is usually a good time for lower surcharges. But always ask your tour operator for details.
Tip for solo travellers from Andrew Appleyard, at our leading supplier Exodus Travels: “There are solo travellers in the 50s and 60s. Sometimes they are single, or indeed - in some trips I have led on Kilimanjaro - recently widowed and sadly doing things they had planned with partners later on in life. My tip is don’t feel like you are going to be the oldest, although in many ways you might be the wisest of the group. I have also found this age group to be sometimes fitter than younger clients, and much better prepared.”

Will I be the only single traveller on a small group tour?


Of course this is hard to predict, however our expert suppliers have assured us that a high proportion of people going on small group holidays are going solo. However, you will also get couples and groups of friends – although where possible families with children tend to be grouped together on separate departures (and of course – outside of term time). A good tour operator will be able to advise you of the typical demographic and mix of the particular group, but rest assured that you will never be perceived as odd because you are travelling solo.

Do you sell holidays specifically for solo or single travellers?


No we don’t. There are experts out there doing that, but we represent responsible holidays that are aimed at everyone. Solo, couples, families, gay, straight, over eighties, under eights. The only restriction is sometimes on age, as some of our holidays are not recommended for children under a certain age, usually for safety reasons. Interestingly, there are some types of trips which do tend to attract more solo travellers – particularly special interest trips such as photography holidays, where perhaps only one half of a couple is interested. Volunteering abroad, too, seems to particularly appeal to single people – perhaps because of the communal nature of the activities and general team spirit.
Photo credits: [Top box: Neville Wootton] [Walking trails in Japan: Guilhem Vellut] [Wildlife holidays: Max Goldberg] [Tasmania: Jenny Mealing] [Walking holidays: Heather Cowper] [Italy: Gareth Williams] [Cruises: N-Lange.de] [Second homes: Andrea Passoni] [Car hire: Alper Çu?un] [Piste palavers: Ralf Kλεvyελ] [Small group holidays: Guilhem Vellut] [Age & accommodation: Kassandra Bay Resort & SPA] [Nervous: Zachary Collier] [Single supplements: Hotel Kursaal & Ausonia] [Single traveller: Moyan Brenn] [Solo traveller specific holidays: U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast region]
Written by Catherine Mack
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Galapagos cruise options, tailor made

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Small group holiday to Burma

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Amalfi coast easy walking holiday, Italy

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Croatian coast walking tours, self guided

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Cuba tours

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Cruise Croatia's beautiful islands on a small cruise ship

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Sintra Natural Park accommodation in Portugal

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Eco-friendly B&B, in Sintra Natural Park near lovely beaches

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Wake up in the country and breath the Troodos mountain air

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A small-group archaeology tour of Greece

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Independent tailor made holidays to Sri Lanka

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Shanghai to Hong Kong tour, discover China

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Cities, wildlife, ancient history and rolling rice paddies.

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