Now is the era of the silver traveller, the over fifty-somethings. They’re richer in both time and money, as children leave the nest and mortgages are paid off. A whole new world of travel possibilities are there for the taking. Yet, many are not taking it. While most over-fifties are planning to travel more, both now and in retirement, some are not making the next step of booking their dream trip.
This post is brought to you in association with Ryvita. Head to Ryvita.co.uk/living-well to find out more.
For younger people reading this my advice would be, there’s no need to try and pack all your travel dreams in while you’re young, you CAN keep on travelling in your fifties, sixties and beyond.
For anyone thinking of retiring their travelling shoes due to age-related issues, why not consider travelling in a different way? Perhaps a river cruise, for example. As our lifespans are increasing due to better healthcare, education and technology, more companies are tailoring holidays specifically for the older traveller.
Here’s why I love travelling in my fifties…
While I’ve always loved travelling, it wasn’t until I started blogging that I started travelling as much as I do now. Blogging has made me step out of my comfort zone on numerous occasions and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
I was well into my forties before I ever travelled alone. I was invited by a tour operator to discover Rome’s food and drink scene over a long weekend on my own. It was a city I longed to see, so how could I say no? Although I had more confidence than I did when I was younger, I was still nervous. But I threw myself wholeheartedly into the experience. I visited the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, I explored the Coliseum and the Catacombs. I learned to cook pizza and how to pair Italian food and wine. I ate aphrodisiac salami and artisan gelato. In fact, I over did it, doing (and eating) too much. But what surprised me most was how much I loved travelling alone. My next solo trip was to Lisbon, where I slowed the pace down a little. It really hit home how much of a buzz discovering a new city on my own could be.
If you are thinking of travelling alone for the first time but are a little apprehensive, I would highly recommend Belfast. There’s plenty to see and do in the city centre and I felt perfectly safe walking around in the evenings alone. The people are extremely friendly and if you want to go out in the evening, head to Fibber Magees, a traditional Irish music bar on Blackstaff Square. Northern Ireland is also a great choice for your first solo adventure if you are concerned about the language barrier, although I’ve only travelled to a few places around the world where it was hard to find anyone who spoke some English.
Check out my Top 12 things to see, do, eat and drink in Belfast.
I was nearly fifty when I tried zip-lining for the first time in Slovenia. It wasn’t in our itinerary, but on the first morning our guide pointed up into the trees and announced we were ‘going up there’. It didn’t go to plan. I got stuck on the first zip-line. Dangling mid-air suspended between trees isn’t my idea of fun. No one came to my aid and I had to get myself out it, by pulling myself back along the wire hand-over-hand. It was exhausting, but I did it and I didn’t die of fright. Instead, it helped me conquer my fear of heights. What’s more (and I really didn’t see this coming), I discovered I LOVE zip-lining. My favourite one to-date was nearly 100 metres high over the domes of the Eden Project in Cornwall. If you ever visit, I dare you to try it. It really is like flying. I’d class it as an experience of a lifetime, not to be missed.
Check out my Top 10 health tips for the 50-plus traveller
And here’s why I intend to keep travelling long into my seventies and beyond
Keep fit and keep learning
As a silver traveller, it’s not just your body you need to keep fit. There’s nothing better for our brain than giving it a good workout and this is even more important as we get older.
Travelling, especially to a culture very different from our own, is a wonderful way to stimulate your brain with new information, new sights and sounds and new skills. Be it learning how to navigate the Paris metro, haggling in the souks of Morocco or painting in Tuscany, your brain thrives on stimulation and learning opportunities, which help keep it in tip-top condition.
And it’s true, the older you get and the more you learn, the more you realise how much you don’t know and I’m so grateful for my thirst for knowledge.
Don’t let mobility difficulties stop you
If you can’t walk as well as you once could and are concerned about the queues at the airport and long walks to the departure gates, don’t let that hold you back from flying. My sister and I took our elderly mother on a fabulous coach tour in Germany and I simply asked the tour company to arrange assistance at the airports. We all enjoyed whizzing around Gatwick in a buggy. And when we landed, we were escorted from the plane by a gentleman with a wheelchair who sped us through security, by-passing any queues.
Here’s to being the best version of you that you can be
As an older traveller, I have more confidence than I did when I was younger. There was a time when I’d have been far too embarrassed to dance with a Kumpo in West Africa (a mythical figure of the Jola tribe rather resembling a haystack), but now just try and stop me!
Yes, life has dealt me a few knocks along the way, but each experience has made me stronger and more confident in my own abilities. Stepping out of my comfort zone while travelling has shaped me into the person I am today. I want to be the best version of me I can be, standing up for the things I believe in, still travelling and learning until my final journey.
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