Over 70s vacations

A lot of us spend our lives daydreaming about what adventures we’ll have when we finally retire. Our over 70s vacations stop those dreams from being a hazy fantasy, and bring them into sharp perspective. Without the restrictions of limited annual leave or having to travel during school vacations, and with a lifetime of experience and wisdom behind you, this is a time to take that six-week overland tour, plough your savings into a trip-of-a-lifetime to Antarctica, volunteer in a rural school in Tanzania or kick back on a gulet cruise along the turquoise Turkish coast.
It’s worth noting that while plenty of our vacations have minimum age limits, none have a maximum, and other than our family vacations, none are designed with specific age ranges in mind. The only things which may affect people’s ability to join certain trips are budget, fitness and how highly developed your sense of adventure is – not the year you were born. For this reason, many of our small group vacations attract travelers in their 70s, and beyond.
Sue Shearman, on a wildlife conservation vacation in South Africa:
“Every day brought something new and memorable. So that's a minimum of 28 new, exciting memories! The sounds of the bush at night. The animals visiting camp – especially the vervets standing by to raid the kitchen and the baboons to raid the bins. Camping in the bush. The new friends I made from around the world. You don't have to be young! Most of the promo material features young people but I'm rather too close to 70 for comfort and no one for a second made me feel out of place or any less valued than the younger people volunteering (the best friend I have made is in her 20s.) I'm going back in 3 weeks. I think that says it all.”
Types of trip

Our types of trips for over 70's

At Responsible Travel, we offer both tailor made and small group vacations. With small group trips, you’ll be with a maximum of around 15 other travelers, but this depends very much on the type of tour, and departure dates are fixed. This is a great option for less confident travelers, solo travelers who want to spend their vacation with others, and anyone keen on making new friends with shared interests. Special interest vacations – such as learning Spanish, photography, yoga and archaeology, for example – are particularly popular with solos, and many have gone on to make friends who they go on to travel with in future.
Small group vacations usually have a minimum age limit (so it’s unlikely there will be children in your group) but no maximum one. You can share a room with someone of the same sex at no extra cost, or pay a supplement for your own room. Some operators do offer single rooms at no extra cost – it’s worth asking before you book.
Tailor made vacations give you far more flexibility in terms of dates, duration, comfort and activity levels. Factor in free days, opt for a fully guided tour or have local guides meet you at certain points, hire a car, or focus on the aspects of a destination that interest you most – from food and architecture to scuba diving and bird watching.

Activity vacations for the over 70s

We don’t do sitting-by-the-pool type vacations. Our travelers are curious, adventurous and active, and all of our walking and cycling trips are graded so that you can push yourself just that little bit further outside your comfort zone. The grading also helps you decide if you need to join that spin class, or walk up a few more hills in preparation.
Our cycling vacations are graded as easy, moderate, adventurous and challenging. They range from center based trips, where you can pedal out each day as far as you like, to taking on sections of the Tour de France, or riding across Kenya and Tanzania. We also have electric bike vacations which enable you to travel that little bit further.
Arnold Nickel, cycling in Portugal:
“My most memorable part of the vacation in Portugal was cycling along the high cliffs of Alentejo by the sea with 60km winds at my back, even though one needed to be mindful with the wind on cycling so close to the edge of the cliff on a sandy track! The 10 percent grade for seemingly endless kms from Alejur to Monchique was a challenge that I felt really good about having accomplished in my 80th year. It made me feel blessed for the health and strength that I have… It was really nice to be able to interact with people along the way, and travel in a style that allowed for sights, smells and sounds to be foremost in my relationship with the environment.”
Rob Nutting, cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats
“Make sure that you have done sufficient training on a bike beforehand. Thinking you are fit because you go to the gym regularly may not be enough. Do not be put off by thinking that the group will be full of "boy racers". It won't be. Don't think you'll be too old – I'm 69. The variety and beauty of our wonderful country was a continuing delight. The views and feeling of achievement after climbing the Cross of Greet and many other hills were unforgettable. In contrast the feeling of freedom freewheeling down from these heights was wonderful… the camaraderie and mutual support which grew in the group and with our leaders, Nick and Ken, made the challenge so much easier and enjoyable.”
Walking vacations range from easy walking to challenging trekking, with every level in between. You can opt for high altitude trekking if that’s your thing, or pilgrimage walks if you prefer to wander with a purpose. Our expert walking companies can advise on fitness levels and training routines if you want to take on the Inca Trail or Annapurna Sanctuary, for example.
Karoline Lamb, trekking in the Annapurna Sanctuary, Nepal:
“The best part? That I managed to get up to Poon Hill 3,210m even though I am in my late 70s. A lot was due to the wonderful guide and porter who encouraged me all the way… I think anybody who has never been to the area should use a guide and porter. People should definitely use proper hiking/Nordic walking poles and should be shown how to use them effectively.”
Other active trips include sea kayaking, cross country skiing and snow shoeing, all of which are suitable for beginners or more advanced guests; for many participants, this will be the first time they’ve wielded snow shoes, skis or an oar!

Volunteering for the over 70's

Volunteering abroad was once an essential part of any gap year CV, but soaring UK university tuition fees along with a general squeeze on millennials’ finances means this is no longer the case. In addition, organisations have worked hard to ensure that ‘voluntourism’ is more than just a token gesture, and consequently, there is a huge demand for skilled participants. Retired doctors, nurses, teachers and vets – or those taking time out – are welcomed with open arms by responsible volunteering organisations, especially if you are not restricted by limited annual leave and can spend a month or more in the country. Backgrounds in science, the arts, horticulture, IT, construction and languages can also prove invaluable on these projects; have a chat to the organisation and they may be able to come up with a tailored placement that is as enjoyable for you as it is beneficial to the destination or community. Weekly rates tend to drop the longer you stay, too, so ask about extended placements.
Learn something new

Learn something new

There are plenty of excellent reasons to travel overseas to learn something new. Learning Spanish, of course, is much easier and considerably more fun when you combine traditional lessons with trips to the village market and nights entertaining the regular punters as you test out your new vocabulary with them in the local bar.
Gabriel Fuller, on a Spanish and walking vacation in northern Spain:
“This vacation had two parts to it: learning Spanish in the mornings and walking in the afternoons. Both of these were equally excellent. The lessons were extremely professional… and took account of the different learning styles within the group of four attendees… I shall go away to pursue this language further. The walking was absolutely wonderful… We walked from 3.30 to 6.30pm each day with a break on the middle day to give our legs a rest… I am 70 and none of the walks was too difficult for me... We walked high, and low along the coast, and through valleys and gorges. We enjoyed a Vino Tinto or beer in the evenings… by the end of the week we were famous in the village.”
Photography vacations open up worlds of surreal Arctic landscapes, melting icebergs, shifting dunes and exotic wildlife, as well as colourful local cultures, street markets and craftspeople. As the sun dips, set up your tripod to capture a tropical sunset – or even the Northern Lights.
Cooking and food vacations explore cultures through their culinary heritage, taking you on a tour of the best street stalls, markets, traditional farms and into chef’s kitchens where you will learn to prepare classic dishes yourself. Painting, crafts, yoga and sailing trips are all available too.
Learning vacations are suitable for enthusiastic amateurs, semi-pros and total novices, so you can develop an existing interest, or try something completely new. You can then delve into your newfound hobby once back home. These vacations are a particular favourite for solo travelers, as they are a great opportunity to meet new people with shared skills and interests.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Over 50s or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
When to travel & for how long

When to travel & for how long

Having extra flexibility over when you travel means you can save quite a bit of money, by departing on a weekday, for example, and of course traveling outside of the school vacations. Post retirement travel can be an opportunity to visit countries that are all but impossible with full time jobs. Certain destinations really require more than the standard two-week break – mainly due to the lengthy journeys to get there – such as Antarctica, Tasmania, New Zealand or Eastern Russia. Others, such as Patagonia, can be explored with less time, but would definitely benefit from an extra few days. And then there are overland trips which can be done in short sections, but need several weeks to properly complete. Think the whole of India by train, or following the length of the Silk Road.

Insurance & car hire

We may be living longer, traveling more and staying healthier for many more years, but frustratingly, most travel insurance companies do not seem to have caught onto this. Beyond the age of 55, premiums are levied, and this is one area in which age brackets do apply. At 65, insurance firms move travelers up into the next bracket, with those aged 75 and over being charged additional premiums each year. Pre existing medical conditions, of course, incur their own fees.

However, there are insurance companies that have caught onto this growing market, and will base their quotes on your health rather than your age. As specialists in insurance for older travelers, they should also be far more knowledgeable about pre existing conditions and other health risks. So it is well worth doing your research.

Don’t forget, too, that if you are an EU citizen, an EHIC card can ensure you receive free emergency medical treatment while traveling within the EU or Switzerland. Read more about the terms and conditions on the NHS website.
Annoyingly, many car hire companies have an upper age limit of 70 or 75. If you’re planning to drive while away, check with your vacation company to ensure this is not going to be an issue.
Vaccinations & medication

Vaccinations & medication

If traveling further afield, do note that the Yellow Fever vaccination is not recommended for anyone over 60. Although Yellow Fever is rarely a high risk, you may need to show your certificate in order to enter certain countries – particularly if arriving from another country which is considered to be at risk of the disease. However, you should be able to get an exemption certificate; visit your local travel clinic or Yellow Fever vaccination center (often available in registered pharmacies) to find out more.
Happily, the certificate is now valid for life, so if you have been inoculated previously, you’re still covered. Just don’t lose the certificate!
If you need – or think you may need – any prescription medicines, do bring adequate supplies with you, as they may not be available. And bring your actual prescription, too, to ensure they aren’t confiscated at customs.
health facilities

In-country health facilities

If access to good medical facilities is important to you, then it is worth doing a bit of research before abandoning more adventurous vacation plans.
If planning a safari, for example, East Africa may not be the best option; facilities are not up to Western standards and poor infrastructure means you really can be stranded well out in the bush. South Africa and Namibia have superb hospitals, however. Even the top game spots, such as Kruger and Etosha National Parks, are an easy drive along paved roads (or very short flight) from the modern, well equipped hospital in Johannesburg and Windhoek.
If you prefer your wildlife to be in the jungle rather than roaming the savannah, think beyond the Amazon. While cities such as Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro and Lima offer great facilities, they are not exactly accessible from the heart of the rainforest. Madagascar and Central Africa are probably out, too. Costa Rica is a rewarding alternative, with excellent hospitals and clinics. Due to the high number of US expats there (many of them retirees), many hospital staff will speak good English. Malaysia’s good facilities mean Borneo could be a somewhat more adventurous option, too.
Don’t overlook the wildlife in Europe. Bears, wolves, wolverines, lynx, whales and dolphins can all be found right on our doorstep, and can be spotted on long weekend breaks.
At Responsible Travel, we pride ourselves in finding well hidden secrets, often in well known destinations. One of these is the Picos de Europa, a stunning mountain range reaching heights of 2,650m, hiding in plain sight in northern Spain. As well as allowing you to avoid lengthy flights and jetlag, you’ll also avoid the crowds associated with better known mountain regions. You can also take advantage of that EHIC card and modern Spanish healthcare facilities – far more reliable than those in most Himalayan, Andean or Atlas Mountain destinations. France’s Mercantour National Park, Italy’s Dolomites, and Slovenia’s Julian Alps are other European highlights. If you’re looking further afield, take a look at Canada’s Rocky Mountains, Colombia’s Sierra Nevada or Japan’s Nakasendo Trail for wild mountains in otherwise well developed places.
Elaine Blatchford, walking Japan’s Nakasendo Trail:

“Do not worry if you do not want to undertake the walks, you can find alternatives to do during the day. We met one older American couple who decided not to walk at all but simply explored the villages. We managed the walks with rucksacks even at our age. 66 and 71. Just take it slowly and pace yourself. Walking in the high temperature was not too much of a problem because most of the route is through the forests. We only gave up on the last walk when we reached the top of the pass due to the heavy rain.”
For deserts, think Oman, Namibia or Australia, while for island getaways, Panama, Dominica, Malta, Greece, Croatia, Thailand and Cuba all have highly rated healthcare systems.
Keeping in touch

Keeping in touch

If you are concerned about being able to communicate while away, you might be surprised at just how easy it is to do this while overseas; even in the last couple of years, the spread of the internet has been astounding. You’ll find broadband deep in the jungle, WiFi hotspots on Cuban street corners, and mobile phone access on supposedly remote mountainsides. Your travel company should be able to advise on buying cheap local SIM cards that will give you access to data networks, and keep roaming costs down. Don’t forget that European mobile phone companies are not allowed to charge extra for calls and data usage within the EU.
There are one or two spots where access is not guaranteed – such as Antarctica (unsurprisingly), where expedition ships many have an on board computer available for limited use by guests. And if you’re heading into the wilds of Madagascar, Tibet, Siberia or Central Africa, there is a good chance you’ll be cut off for a few days.

In other places, connectivity may be deliberately restricted, as accommodation owners acknowledge that the guests are there to ‘get away from it all’ rather than check emails, listen to podcasts and read hourly updates on Brexit. It also gives you more opportunity to read, chat, gaze at the views and get to know whoever is sat next to you at dinner. It’s the most exciting new concept in travel, apparently…
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: Ross Huggett] [Camping in South Africa: Di.Malealea] [Types of trip - thai chi Spain: Mate Marschalko ] [Types of trip - rooms: Prayitno / Thank you for (12 millions +) view] [Types of trip - Guides: Christian Haugen] [Cycling - Alentejo : Aires Almeida] [Cycling - Land's End : Chris Combe] [Walking vacations - Annapurna: Ro431977] [Walking - snowshoeing: kcxd] [Volunteering - construction : U.S Embassy New Delhi ] [Learn something new - Spanish market interaction : Son of Groucho ] [Learn something new - Walkers in Spain: Fresco Tours ] [Learn something new - Photography: Sylwia Bartyzel] [Learn something new - food markets: Peter Hershey] [When to travel & for how long?: Belur Ashok] [Car hire - Kyrgyzstan: Jurgen ] [Vaccinations & medication: NHS Employers] [Vaccinations & medication - pills in hand : Victor ] [In-country health facilities - hospitals in S.Africa and Namibia: Synergos] [In-country health facilities - Jungle : Ian D. Keating] [In-country health facilities - Mercantour National Park: Toni Barros] [Islands - Panama: Angel Silva] [Keeping in touch - getting signal : Indi Samarajiva ] [Keeping in touch - read instead : Kyle Pearce ]