The days of the over 50s settling for coach tours or cruises around the Mediterranean or up the Danube have passed.
A new generations of senior holiday makers are expanding their horizons and looking for a lot more from their holiday experience. Now the over 50s, dubbed the ‘greycationers’, are looking further afield to destinations all around the world and want to include activity and adventure as a central part of their holiday package.
The indications are that the over 50s are increasingly abandoning holidays simply comprising of sea, sun and sand to the younger generation and are choosing instead, holidays including activities such as mountain hiking, wildlife trekking, cultural tours and biking expeditions.
Research carried out by the holiday industry recently revealed that a third of the over 50s indicated that they are choosing to travel to more exotic destinations than they did 10 years ago.
It was also found that the over 50s demographic makes up more than 50% of the UK’s spend on travel and tourism and therefore the industry is very focussed on meeting the aspirations of this influential group.
One reason given for the shift in focus to adventure holidays is the idea that seniors are now prioritising experience over material possessions. Another suggestion is that the increased use of social media and the increasing number of travel documentaries featuring exotic locations have made far flung destinations seem much more accessible and far less intimidating.
It is perhaps not surprising that it is the over 50s that are spreading their wings and traveling further afield. This group of holiday makers have more time to travel, either because their children have flown the nest or the fact they have retired from work. Many in this group have also paid off their mortgage resulting in them having extra money to invest in leisure activities.
With this boom in activity and adventure holidays for the over 50s, we have explored some of the holiday options available in the market that can offer you exciting and memorable new experiences.
Trekking holidays have become increasingly popular in recent years as have the far flung destinations where these holidays are now being offered. Even companies with a tradition for cruise holidays to the over 50s, have moved into this expanding market by offering trekking in the Himalayas. Saga, for example, offer a holiday consisting of “trekking at a leisurely pace following well-worn paths”. The average walk is six to 13 kilometres a day, with steady up and downhill stretches. Most of the walks are between heights of 1,060 and 1,680 metres reaching an ultimate height of 2,000 metres. Walks are in the morning and arrive at a lodge in time for lunch. The afternoon can be spent relaxing (or recovering!).
Or why not try your hand at something like Nordic walking.
Trekking in Nepal
Trekking in Nepal is becoming an increasingly popular holiday among the over 50s and therefore it is worth looking at the implications when booking and preparing for one of these packages.
The only physical barriers for any age group trekking in Nepal is fitness, health and the surrounding conditions. Things to consider for the over 50s before trekking:
Fitness is the key factor when preparing for a trek in Nepal. Mid-range fitness is recommended. If you don’t currently exercise or are not active then it’s advisable to get into shape long before your trek. Read the brochures to get an idea of how many hours of walking you’ll likely be doing in a day. Usually it’s a between four and seven hours.
- When to go
Consider going to Nepal during good peak weather conditions rather than in cold winter months or wet monsoon months. Do read about when is the best month to go trekking in Nepal.
- Where to go
Annapurna Base Camp is one of the most popular treks. Although it involves many steep steps which can be especially hard on the knees. One to perhaps avoid if I you have joint problems. Annapurna Circuit is one of the most adaptable treks in Nepal. There are many side treks and you can extend your trek or shorten it with ease.
For those that have never trekked before then the Ghorepani Poon Hill trek is only five days and offers great views and is a relatively easy trek. For those looking for a short trek then consider the Panchase trek which is only one to two days. Mardi Himal is slightly more adventurous, but only six days. Finally if you are looking for a spectacular trek which is not too strenuous then Upper Mustang is great option.
It is very unadvisable to shorten the recommended days needed for a trek as these are tried and tested routes.. There are no age restrictions for obtaining trekking permits in Nepal. If you are going peak climbing then you need to be aware that the Nepali authorities have placed restrictions on the over 75s and medical certificates are required. However, this is for climbing, not trekking.
Trekking poles are one of the best bits of equipment someone over 60 can take on a trek in Nepal. Two trekking poles can help take the burden off your knees when descending. They can also help to firm up your footing when ascending. It’s advisable to help break in your trekking poles so your hands get used to them. So if you are currently “in training” for your trek then take your trekking poles along with you.
Clothing and equipment for older people trekking in Nepal depends on the time of year and where you are on a trek – it’s not always “freezing” on trekking trails. Many people over compensate with heavy clothing and then find it awkward to and heavy carrying something they are not using. Dressing in thinner layers helps for all ages in Nepal. Early in the morning it can be cold but as the day goes on it can warm up considerably, so slowly removing layers is a good way to reduce or increase warmth through clothing.
Getting travel insurance for trekking in Nepal is vital. Remember that should you twist an ankle or get sick on a trail you will be far from any medical treatment centre. So, although it seems minor, a sprained ankle could end up stranding you in the mountains for weeks.
If you are on any medication, bring it with your rather than purchase it in Nepal. Get a full health check-up and talk with your medical advisor about your intentions to go trekking in Nepal. If you do not currently exercise then you’ll need to start an exercise program.
For the over 60s trekking in Nepal you need to be aware of two additional issues with travel insurance. Firstly you need to be sure that you are covered for the altitude you are trekking up to and secondly you need to be sure that your age bracket is covered by your insurance provider.
Other worldwide trekking holidays
If time is a little tight and you’re of a reasonable level of fitness, you could try the historic Inca Trail of Peru, which wends its way through the ancient runs of the Lost City of Macchu Picchu.
If you are looking for a holiday closer to home, then Majorca’s Serra de Tramuntan has some wonderful trekking options with enchanting coastal views, whilst the Vikos Gorge in Greece offers an eight-hour venture through the deepest gorge in Europe.
In Italy routes from the terrific Tuscan hills to the dramatic Dolomites and along the stunning Sicilian coast to the undulating Umbrian Hills provide plenty of options for hiking. There is also a spot or two of culture to explore. Walking tours in Italy don’t have to be in the countryside, it could be around Rome, Pisa, Venice or Florence. There are culinary hikes, wine tasting walks and historic pilgrimages to enjoy.
UK trekking holidays
In the UK the holiday industry offers “walking” or “rambling” holidays rather than trekking holidays, although the daily distances covered and some of the terrain can match that of the overseas trekking holidays. (If you’re wondering what rambling is, we’ve created a whole guide about rambling in the UK).
There are numerous walks including a coast to coast walk from the Cumbrian coast to the coast of North Yorkshire. Altogether, it’s a 192 mile challenge it’s great for small group holidays and is one of the best adventures for an older crowd. With excellent ales and welcoming hosts along the way, it’s one of the more popular over 50s UK adventure holidays.
Trekking, walking and hiking in the UK is without doubt a fantastic way to spend your time.
For a shorter venture there is a walk across the glorious Malvern Hills or another along the beautiful Wye Valley. For walking across more rugged landscape there is the Hadrian’s Wall walk.
Essentially, when it comes to trekking, walking and rambling, the world is your oyster and there is barely a part of it that you can’t explore through one or another of the fast growing number of trekking holidays packages.
Trekking can also go hand in hand with wild camping for the truly adventurous.
Cycling Holidays for Over 50s
Cycling in Burma (Myanmar)
If two wheels rather than two feet is your thing, then a cycling holiday in Burma maybe just the ticket.
A cycling holidays in Burma could involve the following itinerary, for example. You start the adventure by cycling 17 km to Mandalay’s outskirts, which involves passing the ancient city of Amarapura. The ride continues along the Irrawaddy River to Mingun and after 33 km, you reach the stunning white Hsinbyume Pagoda and the Mingun Bell weighing 90 tons and considered the world’s largest ringing bell.
The second day might consist of a 45 km ride from Mandalay to Pyin Si where you would have time to explore the countryside and experience Burmese villagers’ life.
The third morning could involve a scenic ride to Mt Popa where you might stay at the Popa Mountain Resort overlooking the country’s most famous nat shrine.
The next morning could start with some relaxing cycling to the base of Mount Popa and a climb of almost 900 stairs to the top of Popa Taung Kalat. In the afternoon, you proceed to Bagan via Byatta Pan Sat Road to spend the night there.
The penultimate day might be dedicated to some cultural cycling among the ancient Shwezigon Pagoda, known for its magnificent golden stupa, and Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite mural paintings. The ride could move on to the colourful Nyaung Oo Market where you would be able to enjoy some local shopping. In the evening, you could visit Ananda, an architectural masterpiece with four impressive standing Buddhas. Continue to Ananda Okkyaung, one of the few surviving brick monasteries from the early Bagan period.
This is just one example of several cycling holidays available in Burma and it is worth looking at the different options available.
If Burma is a bit far and you are looking for something closer to home and a little cheaper, there are a plethora of cycling holidays available throughout the UK and Europe.
African safari holidays are very popular with the over 50s who have a sense of adventure, but would rather experience it, at least in part, from the inside of a landrover. Increasingly, safari packages include a variety of activities including trekking and boat travel. An example of this is a small group safari holiday in Uganda which involves visits to the Murchison Falls, Kibale Forest, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake Mburo.
Activities include seeing rhinos in the Ziwa Rhino range, a trek to look for chimpanzees and a game drive where group members can look out for wildlife such as elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, lions and leopards. The safari package also includes spectacular boat cruises when there is the opportunity to see hippos and crocodiles. There is also a guided walk in the Bigodi Swamp to look out for the colourful birdlife.
Accommodation is in lodges and under canvas so group members get a very full and varied experience of an African safari.
Over 50s Volunteering in Africa
Another way to enjoy the African wildlife experience is through over 50s volunteering schemes. This might appeal to over 50s who have time on their hands and can afford a life enhancing experience lasting anything up to 24 weeks. Unlike a conventional safari trip, these programs allow you to play an active and meaningful role in the research and long term conservation of South Africa’s natural resources.
If you are worried about your suitability and qualifications for such a venture, you can be assured that no special skills or qualifications are required All the training is provided by the team in the field.
You will learn how to track and identify predators, like lions and cheetahs, and megaherbivores, like elephants and rhinos. The data is then used by reserve authorities and conservation organisations to develop an accurate picture of predator impact on prey populations, determine the spatial movement, behaviour, social structure and genetics of specific species.
This information helps authorities maintain a healthy balance of natural resources in the reserve, helps conservation organisations further their objectives, and ultimately assists with conserving important African species and habitats. You will also have the opportunity to participant in environmental conservation programs which are run in the community.
Aside from learning to master radio telemetry techniques and how to track and record animal movements, you will have the free time to visit the nearby national parks. You will live and work beside qualified guides and sleep under the star-filled Southern night sky.
For some, there is no better feeling than being out on the water, the wind in their hair and the sound of the waves lulling them into a blissful state, far from any of the cares and responsibilities of the real world back home.
Sailing is a popular holiday choice for the over 50s. You can either join a flotilla sailing trip, or book a “learn to sail” holiday to get to grips with the new activity. Sailing can become a passion and without doubt is one of the best adventures for an older crowd.
Sailing holidays in Croatia have grown in popularity in recent years with its stunning rugged islands along the Dalmation Coast, the crystalline colours of the stunning Adriatic Sea and the many towns and fishing villages that create incredibly picturesque stop-of points.
Other activity holidays
If you are looking for an activity packed holiday in unchartered territories, you might try Djibouti. This is a country most people are unfamiliar with, but it has an impressive landscape. The land that makes up this country is mostly rock, complete with volcanic activity, salt lakes and waterfalls. If you are looking for thrilling, over 50s adventure holidays, you will need look no further than Djibouti, which offers not only hikes, but also kayaking and snorkelling, among other exciting opportunities.
If the senior adrenaline junkies need even more excitement in their holiday there are a number of ski diving holiday packages from the Algarve to Thailand or Australia. So jump to it!
If you want to leave behind the fly and flop holidays and make your future holidays truly memorable experiences, there are rapidly expanding opportunities throughout the world. Age is no barrier to an adventure holiday and whether you enjoying walking, cycling, kayaking, snorkelling or even sky diving, there is a holiday for you, whether you want to stay in the UK or travel to some far flung destination on the other side of the world.