According to a National Travel Survey published by Age UK, people over 60 years old travel more frequently than any other age group. So if you're thinking about adding to this statistic, keep in mind that travel at this stage of life is wonderful for both your physical and mental health.
Planning your trip
It's good to know that travel is more convenient, more accessible and more affordable than ever. And if you are a cost conscious explorer over the age of 60, low-cost airlines and senior discounts can help make budget travel a reality.
Seven tips to help you get your holiday off on the right foot
These seven suggestions can help you cover the most important requirements of your trip.
- Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance that is compatible with your needs.
- Choose a destination that will be easy to navigate (you may want to consider a group trip or cruise that can accommodate special service requests).
- Seek the most direct and shortest routes to your destination and give yourself enough time on layovers to grab a meal, use the toilet and stretch your legs.
- Travel with proper documents including passport, boarding passes, itineraries, emergency contact information and insurance contact information.
- Think through your medication needs. Carry medication with you, rather than checking it on the plane, and set alarms on your phone or watch to remind you to take medication during your expeditions.
- Consider the equipment you may require—for instance, packing a portable chair can be a good idea if you are not able to walk longer distances.
- Request special services in advance, if needed. For example, when it comes to accommodation (and if access is important to you), find out ahead of time what arrangements are in place. Make sure you ask about things like lifts, ground floor room options and adapted en suite facilities. It is recommended that you request guarantees in writing to ensure a suitable room is reserved for you for the duration of your stay.
It is your legal right to receive airline assistance if you have restricted mobility. So remember this—on flights from EU airports, airlines must provide certain services, like carrying wheelchairs or accommodating guide dogs, free of charge.
More information on Foreign travel for disabled people can found at the GOV.UK website. And additional guidance on travelling with specific disability and health issues can be found on these pages:
- Living with hearing loss: out and about
- Living with sight loss: out and about
- Living with physical disabilities: out and about
- Living with mental health issues: out and about
- Living with learning disabilities: out and about
- Living with memory loss and dementia: out and about
Practical travel pointers
We agree that there are many things to remember when you travel, especially when you have specific physical requirements. If that's the case for you, the following list of tech tools may be of interest:
- Concessioncard is a free local bus pass for off-peak travel in England if you are over 60 years of age.
- Driving Miss Daisy offers trained companion drivers in vehicles adapted for wheelchairs, if required. This service can transport you to holiday destinations in Europe and the rest of the world, including cruises.
- MediPAL is a medical identification card that clearly displays emergency contact details, medical history and medication details.
- R.A.D.A.R. key is a universal key that unlocks disabled toilets across the UK.
- 60+ and disabled entitles you to free bus travel around Scotland through the Transport Scotland concessionary travel scheme.
- 60+ London Oyster photocard gives you access to free travel (if you're a London resident) with an Oyster photocard until you are eligible for a Freedom Pass.
Seeing new places can open up tremendous possibilities. For instance, practicing a new language before a trip is one thing that can make you richer. (And if learning a language is solely what interests you, head on over to find out more about Classes and continuing education.)
Do you want to explore a new city or country? Will there be an active element to it? Could it involve a small group? Grand intergenerational adventures can be a very popular way to plan a special reunion or anniversary.
The next question will be logistics. What will be the length of the trip? Will it be as short as a day? Or will last several weeks or even months? Will you be at home or abroad? Do you prefer an escorted or independent adventure? Would you like catered or self-catered? The possibilities are endless!
Where do you want to travel?
Fortunately, there are many websites and travel agencies that offer holidays that may be right for you, even if you want to strike out on your own!
Here is some inspiration to whet your appetite.
Exploring the UK
In the UK, there are many fascinating places to discover, especially if you're interested in exploring Jewish history. Consider a trip to Buckinghamshire, where you could visit two National Trust properties—Waddesdon Manor (the home built for Ferdinand de Rothschild) and Hughenden Manor (the home of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli). Also note there is a discount for senior visitors at English Heritage and National Trust locations.
Alternatively, you could plan a day out to visit other National Trust properties and walk in the famous footsteps of Thomas Hardy, Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth, Isaac Newton, Sir Winston Churchill or Agatha Christie. Visiting one of the National Trust of Scotland places is also a possibility.
A stroll and a cup of tea in the cafés of one of the many gardens around the UK could be very relaxing and beautiful too. Members of the Royal Horticultural Society enjoy free entry to partner gardens around the country, which may appeal to you if you're a garden lover. And of course the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is a wonderful option for days as well, and it is only 30 minutes from Central London. Planning your visit to Kew Gardens is simple to do online. If you want to spend the day out in Sussex you can visit Kew Gardens at Wakehurst.
A bespoke, guided walk around Jewish London that includes a visit to Bevis Marks Synagogue, Chancery Lane and St Swithins Lane is perhaps something you’ve been tempted to do for a long time. Just type the term 'Jewish walking tours London' into Google (or any other search engine) for links to companies offering tours that focus on noteworthy Jewish locations.
If you prefer to discover more about Jewish history indoors, why not spend hours exploring the British Museum, Imperial War Museum, Freud Museum London or Jewish Museum London? And outside of London, the Manchester Jewish Museum is a fascinating place to visit—it even offers heritage walks around Jewish Manchester as part of its programming.
How about a visit to Historic Royal Palaces such as Hampton Court or a Royal Collection Trust home such as Windsor Castle? For expert knowledge and advice regarding these unique places with Jewish connections, check out Jewish London Walking Tours.
For tours to areas of Jewish interest across the UK, including to Oxford, Northampton and South London amongst many others, you can take a fully guided JTrail Jewish Heritage Trail excursion. Interestingly, their 1.5-hour tour of Oxford is promised to proceed at a sedate pace, suitable for most walkers and with frequent stops. It is very likely that their other tours are also appropriate for walkers of all abilities. Other places that may be of interest could be Newport's Jewish community and the Jews of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales.
If you’ve always wanted to go to the Edinburgh International Festival, the world’s largest arts festival, there is information for accessible performances and booking. If you live in the London area, you could consider travelling to Edinburgh on the Caledonian Sleeper train from London Euston.
Speaking of trains, if this is your preferred method of transportation, then the sleeper train to Penzance in Cornwall could be an experience made for you. Once you're there you can just hire a car and visit St Ives, the Eden Project, Land’s End or Port Isaac...or you can just relax by the seaside and stroll the promenades. There are many accommodation options, and if it’s a cottage you’d like to hire, Sykes holiday cottages specialises in ground floor options which may be suitable for you or your fellow travellers if accessibility poses a problem.
You may find city breaks with a specific focus to be very enticing. If you're interested in Italy, there are art and history small tours for seniors, specially tailored tours of Barcelona or suitably paced walking tours of Paris (one of the cities that can be easily reached by Eurostar). A flower tour of Keukenhof Tulip Gardens in Amsterdam (also accessible by Eurostar) and its surrounds could be thrilling. Or perhaps you'd like to consider an architecture tour of Prague—a top 10 city according to Senior Travel Expert.
If discovering Jewish heritage in Europe is something you’ve considered doing, it may be wise to do this as part of a group with a dedicated and knowledgeable guide. Many companies specialise in this, including European Jewish Tours, Jewish Heritage Tours and JRoots.
Maybe you have an interest in World War I history—now could be the time to consider a Battlefields tour in Northern France or other battlefield sites. Self-drive itineraries and tours of the World War 1 battlefields is possible, but there are numerous companies that arrange comprehensive trips, some of which are bespoke. Dr Thomson's Tours has several different itineraries for the World War I history buff.
Regardless of where you decide to go, make sure to keep in mind the time of year you opt to travel if you want to make the most of your journey. Any place can be magical if you dress appropriately and plan carefully.
A trip to Israel to spend time with family and friends can be combined with many tours and excursions. Or perhaps wine tours in Israel might tempt you? Israel has more than 200 wineries with many opportunities for tastings available, ranging from small boutique wineries to large companies that produce over 10 million bottles per year.
Hiring a private guide to explore Jerusalem’s Old City or Tel Aviv can be very satisfying when tailored to your needs. You can be met at your hotel every day and stop-offs for lunch can be arranged in advance.
Taking a bird watching tour is a fascinating option too. Carmel Birding Tours in Israel is just one guide that will take you to the country outside of the main cities.
Whilst in Israel, consider a visit to the Dead Sea VIP Resort where therapies are readily available to aid with specific skin ailments.
There are many tour operating companies in Israel, and some (like Israel4all) even specialise in accessible tours. But if you’d prefer a holiday to Israel crafted for you, there are also many UK-based travel agencies with Israel-specific departments, including El Al’s own Superstar Holidays UK.
What do you want to do when you travel?
Travel gives you many options when it comes to deciding what to do on holiday.
Here are some suggestions to discuss with your travel agent or research on your own.
Activity holidays like a golfing trip to Bermuda or a fishing trip to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States might appeal to you. You could also stay longer and escape the unpredictable British winter.
If you play tennis and are considering travelling on your own, tennis training in the Algarve could be a perfect holiday option. An activity like this opens you up to meeting and mixing with like-minded people.
For music buffs, a trip to listen to opera is a delightful travel idea. There are tours available from the UK that take you to opera festivals all around the world such as Verona, Munich or even to Santa Fe in New Mexico.
For foodies, a cookery course in Tuscany might be a great idea.
If you have a sense of adventure, you may be looking for something a little bit different. You can get close to nature by staying in a log cabin in the UK (perhaps in the Cotswolds) or somewhere farther afield (like the Canadian Rockies). Another wonderful way to experience the great outdoors is to visit South Africa or Botswana and go on a safari specially designed for seniors.
Volunteering trips have really taken off in recent years. Adventures like this could give you a new lease of life and a true sense of accomplishment. Also known as Tikkun Olam (or 'repair of the world') in action, a volunteering trip could be an excellent way of giving back.
There are several ways to volunteer. The Sar-El programme is the National Project for Volunteers for Israel. It is an organisation that accepts people from all over the world to participate in various non-political, non-profit efforts throughout Israel. If you are interested in teaching English or helping Israeli communities in other ways, you can look at programmes through Skilled Volunteers for Israel.
And if you’re considering going further, you could check out ProjectsAbroad, an organisation that specialises in for volunteering Abroad for Older Adults and Seniors.
Sometimes a holiday can mean doing absolutely nothing, and there's nothing wrong with that! If you just need a bit of rest and relaxation, here are a few popular options for you to consider.
Health and wellness retreats
By visiting a wellness retreat, you can focus on relaxation during your holiday. You may want to practice yoga and meditation for your mind or focus on a healthier diet for your body—or select a combination of options that appeal to you. Thermal spas in Switzerland abound, but an idyllic break in the UK can be equally satisfying.
A lovely cruise around the Mediterranean, the Caribbean or even to Alaska could also be a relaxing way to experience new places. Most cruise ships offer facilities such as lifts and medical facilities, so everyone can feel welcome.
Alternatively, you could opt for a riverboat cruise that meanders along the Norwegian fjords. Riverboat options offering kosher food, Shabbat programmes and lectures of interest are available too. Destinations include the Amazon, Cambodia and Vietnam along the Mekong, the Danube, the Seine River in Normandy and the Douro River that takes in Spain and Portugal.
Equally relaxing are all-inclusive resorts which offer stress-free travel at its best. Everything from accommodation to food and daily events are taken care of on your behalf. These sorts of resorts range from quiet, romantic getaways to non-stop adventures.
Time away from your routine is a possibility for everyone, and most opportunities can be adapted to suit your preferences. With careful planning, travel can be a reality for you even if you have physical limitations or other special needs. So if you require a carer, don't let that stop you—arrangements can be made for you to be accompanied on your trip.
Finding out more about travel
Finally, here are some helpful resources about travel to get you started.
- Age UK: Holidays and travel
- Better Health: Travel tips for seniors
- Chabad: Kosher Traveling
- Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality: How to travel with an older adult
Just remember this: everyone deserves a holiday, so go ahead and take the time to relax, enjoy yourself and explore new places!