Which are best for you?
As we get older, we might change our priorities when it comes to choosing holidays, but with sixty being the new fifty - or is it forty now? - there's still plenty of choice. The over-sixties need not rule out activity breaks or venturing off the beaten track, and can be imaginative in their choice of destination anywhere in the world.
Looking for a five-star service?
For almost forty years Titan Travel have presented a choice of nearly four hundred cruise holidays, and escorted tours, with nearly a hundred different countries on their itinerary. They offer a door to door service, scheduled flights, highly experienced tour organisers, top quality accommodation and travel, whether you want to journey by air, road, rail, river or sea. They offer:
- River Cruises
- Ocean Cruises
- Escorted Tours
- Solo Traveller Holidays
- Coach Tours
- Rail Journeys
- Stay and Explore Adventures
- UK Short Breaks
- Late Availability Bargains
Travel independently - or get a package?
The Internet has made it easier to travel independently and book your own flights, transfers and accommodation. This has it's dangers, though, and since holiday companies block book they can negotiate far lower prices than you can on your own, so independent travel isn't necessarily cheaper. Plus: what happens if things go wrong? With a package holiday from a reputable company there should always be someone to call to for assistance, and they are legally bound to look after you if the unexpected happens. Other package benefits are:
- ATOL and ABTA protection - the recent collapse of Monarch Airlines shows how quickly an airline can go bust. If flights are part of a package you are automatically protected - you won't lose your money, or be left stranded abroad. Plus ABTA protects you in the unlikely event of the holiday company failing, too.
- Protection from rogue hotels abroad - a reputable tour company will have already vetted the hotel and if there are problems you will have someone to help solve them - who actually speaks English.
- The Package Holiday Travel Regulations - these create a legal obligation on the travel company to give you exactly what is advertised - no more worries about cancelled flights, overbooked hotels etc.
- All-inclusive offers - many packages will not only include meals but also drinks as well, and even excursions. These can add a great deal to an independent traveller's costs, and buying a package like this can greatly help in keeping ther budget under control.
- Easy booking - no long-winded negotiations with multiple agencies. These otherwise could include travel to the airport, flights, hotel arrangements, car hire, transfers, dietary needs, etc, often with people with a poor grasp of English. All this is already done for you!
- Safety - a reputable company will keep up to date with any hazards in your chosen destination, from health issues right up to terrorism, and will have contingency plans in place, in the unlikely event that they are needed.
- Independent advice - your chosen company should have experienced staff who can advise you on the best types of holiday, destination, or hotel to suit your requirements.
- Local knowledge - it isn't much fun landing in a strange town if you don't know your way around, and don't speak the local language. The company's tour manager will usually be there to help you, perhaps translate for you and recommend the best excursions, restaurants, and guides.
- Entertainment - many operators provide evening entertainment for their clients in a safe and convenient venue. What elso can independents do when the sun goes down?
- No hidden costs - tour operations are legally obliged to be completely upfront about the real cost of a holiday so you shouldn't have a constant problem with those little 'extras' that can add so much to the price.
- A guaranteed smooth experience - what happens to you as an independent traveller if the car hire company is closed or the chosen car is a wreck? The hotel is overbooked or offers you a tiny room over the kitchen? The guide you arranged for weeks ago fails to turn up? The attraction you really wanted to visit is closed for repairs? Your holiday company will either make sure these problems don't affect you, or sort them out for you if they do.
Just prefer a gentler pace?
If you're just after relaxation and won't be negotiating steep side streets, you can include beautiful areas such Madeira, the Italian lakes or the Neapolitan Riviera, whilst in the UK, hilly parts of Scotland, Wales, Devon or the Lake District have a more relaxed style, and beautiful scenery without too much difficult access. Just make sure you use a hotel near amenities such as restaurants and shops, or with good transport links nearby.
The mild climates of Bournemouth and Torquay are welcoming to all ages, and can be ideal if you book accommodation on the flat. If not, they also have excellent bus services! Cruises and coach tours will limit the amount of walking needed, increasing the choice of destinations. If you want sun and sand Menorca is a much more peaceful island than it's fellow Balearics with mainly flat terrain and some superb beaches. If you want more excitement go to Ciutadella during the San Juan festival - it will be packed with thousands of friendly folk celebrating the exciting partnership between man and horse, but you'll need to book early!
Make sure you're properly covered
Insurance companies haven't heard the sixty-is-the-new-fifty theory (let alone the new forty), so the cost of cover goes up with age, with those over seventy-four getting the heftiest increase. Some insurers won't cover this age group at all, so shop around for the best deal, and make sure yours accepts any pre-existing conditions. On the plus side, more expensive policies often include extra benefits not offered to younger clients, like extra emergency and medical cover.
Do remember that basic policies can give limited cover if you want to do anything exciting; even reasonably safe activities such as safari rides or helicopter trips may not be covered but are often available as optional extras. Check policies carefully before committing to one, finding yourself ill or injured after a non-insured activity is no joke.
If you have concerns about health conditions that may cause problems while you're away, consult your doctor; and for some foreign trips, ask about any vaccinations or medication that you might need, as any traveller should.
Information-gathering is essential wherever you go, especially if you are booking independently - and there's no need to rule out this option now that we have so many facts literally at our fingertips. It offers more control, meaning we can catch flights at a civilised hour, arrange our own itinerary and save on costs. Going solo? If, through circumstance or choice, you travel alone, booking your own hotel can save paying a single supplement for a broom-cupboard overlooking the rubbish bins. Many hotels, particularly chains, charge per room rather than by person. Although you're paying for the whole room yourself, it's still usually cheaper than a tour operator's surcharge - and you get the same facilities as everyone else.
Be aware of crime risks
Although some people become more nervous about crime as they get older, this is partly just perception and partly because many people do worry more as they age. There is no proof that petty crime is more of a problem for older travellers than anyone else. However, in many resorts tourists are seen as fair game so it's best to be vigilant and take sensible precautions. For more information see our avoiding crime on holiday
The assumption is that retired people have plenty of disposable income, but this isn't always the case, and no-one has unlimited funds anyway. Retirement usually brings flexibility so trawl the websites for cheap flight offers, and off-season or midweek hotel deals. If you're travelling by train or coach, book as far in advance as possible, although this will mean catching specified services. If you're opting for a package, there are still deals to be had if you can be flexible. In the UK, look out for senior citizen discounts such as special meal deals, cinema tickets and so on. In addition many museums, galleries and other venues have concessionary fees, and if it isn't displayed, it's always worth asking.
For train passengers, the benefits of a rail card cannot be stressed enough. You will soon make back the cost of the card, especially if you buy a three-year one, and you can choose to receive special offers by email every month.
Let the train take the strain
Long haul flights are very tiring, so take as many overnight stops as you can. If you're staying within Europe, consider Eurostar as an alternative to stressful airports. You'll find this more relaxing, and it's so much easier to be transported from city to city. Your luggage will stay with you, and you'll avoid those long airport waits, long queues, harrassed fellow passengers and overpriced food. The London terminal in its stunning St Pancras home is an experience in itself. Get there early to sip a drink upstairs whilst watching continental departures, next to a statue of the station's saviour, Sir John Betjeman. Or have a coffee downstairs among the bars and shops, and listen to the accomplished (and less so) playing the free pianos around the concourse.
Where to go ....
There is no reason over-sixties shouldn't frequent the same locations as younger tourists, particularly in a family group of offspring and grandchildren, but for a quiet spell alternative, head for Europe and Scandinavia, with their mix of culture, familiar cuisine and good transport links. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, Jordan's good infrastructure and communications may tempt you to absorb its antiquities and visit the Dead Sea, said to have benefits for skin conditions and to relieve pain.
India can teach you how to de-stress, with its emphasis on yoga and meditation. It might not be quite like a certain well-known film franchise or TV series, but it would be a memorable trip, and will set you on the right path. A beach or cottage holiday with a few good books will also leave you in the right frame of mind to make the most of your new leisure time. Try the mild climate of the Canaries to break up the winter months, or consider one of the cruises available to suit all tastes.
Need some help because of disabilities?
If you have a health issue, disability or limited mobility, specialist companies understand your needs and will offer support. Do your own research to find resorts and cities that don't have too many bridges or steps. For example, Venice would be a nightmare but the flatter Netherlands, Belgium and parts of France are ideal. In London, buses cope well with wheelchairs but the tube network is poor, although it's slowly improving. Escalators might suffice if you have a dodgy knee, get short of breath or are laden with luggage, but check the Transport for London website for stations with step-free access, lifts or ramps. This advice applies wherever you're going, in whichever country! Some cruise ships and many river boats are very disabled-friendly; some cruise ships have superb medical facilities, just a few minutes from each cabin. For more information see our disabled-friendly holidays
... And what to do
If you have ever wanted to learn a craft or skill, now's the time. Create, write, cook pasta in Italy, paint in Provence or take up folk dancing. If your retirement is to be more about self-indulgence, take a culinary trip, a tour of vineyards or a wine-tasting holiday. Make a bucket list!
Adapt to whatever you feel you can do, or have always wanted to try. Hiking, which can be as energetic or as gentle as you like, is a good start. Remember that it's good to stretch yourself, and that you can do anything if you want to do it enough. Forget about being sensible - be the first to make sixty the new thirty!
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