Which are best for you?
Over 60 and looking for a
holiday? There's still plenty of choice. Many 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.
Why not consider a SAGA holiday?
Saga specialise in holidays for the over fifties upwards; with over 78 years of experience and more than 2.8 million customers they must be doing something right! Whether you fancy a cruise to the other side of the world, an action packed activity holiday or a relaxing break in the UK they probably have something for you. Why not look at their website now
How about a quiet break in a holiday cottage?
If you want to get away for a peaceful holiday with your family - or just another special person - there is a huge selection of self catering properties available, both in the UK and abroad, some of which are in building of particular historical or architectural interest.Fancy booking a lighthouse? A wing of a castle? A villa in the sun, complete with a private swimming pool? Or perhaps a simple, cosy country cottage with spectacular views?
Rural Retreats may be worth looking at. They claim to have the cream of more than 450 selected, top quality holiday retreats throughout the UK and Ireland. to choose from, ranging from elegant country houses to former lighthouse keeper’s cottages with amazing views; all fully modernised to the standard you would expect from luxury accommodation. You can view their website here
If you want a even bigger choice, Sykes Cottages claims to be Britain's biggest independent self catering agency, with over 12,000 properties on their books, all personally inspected, and in all price ranges. Many are in beautiful or spectacular locations and some will even accept pets, which could save you the worrry and hassle of finding accommodation for your small (or not so small) friend. For the last 5 years the British Travel Awards have voted them the Best Large UK Cottage/Self Catering Company and you can see their website here
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 perhaps 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 sometimes cheaper than a tour operator's surcharge - and you get the same facilities as everyone else. Alternatively, why not travel with a tour company that caters for travellers on their own - the better ones will keep supplements to the minimum and you'll enjoy far better personal security too.
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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