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Adventure Travel for Older Adults

Updated on December 24, 2012
Interested in adventure travel for older adults?
Interested in adventure travel for older adults? | Source

Senior Citizen Travel

If you’re a senior citizen, consider adventure travel for older adults. In my opinion, no matter a person’s age, he should never lose a sense of adventure. Minus a sense of adventure, one should at least have a bit of wanderlust to fully enjoy senior citizen travel. Many seniors enjoy visiting new places and trying new experiences. I’m 54, and my husband is 65, and we still enjoy new experiences. We’re not into extreme adventures, however. You know, white-knuckle activities like skydiving or mountain climbing. We certainly aren’t averse to trying our hands at things we’re interested in, though, or in going to places we’ve never visited before. “Adventure” means different things to different people, of course. Your idea of adventure travel might be hopping in your RV and taking off for parts unknown. A great adventure for me includes riding a horse through rugged mountains and plunging through rushing rivers, but for some, this would seem pretty lame, and for beginning riders, it might actually be a little too adventurous. If you’re looking for something that’s perhaps a little different than your standard resort vacation, check out my ideas on adventure travel for older adults.

We often get senior citizen discounts because of hubby's age.
We often get senior citizen discounts because of hubby's age. | Source

Senior Citizen Discounts

As an older adult, you’ll probably get to take advantage of senior citizen discounts. These might include reduced rates for lodging, meals, car rentals, flying, cruising, or other modes of travel. If you do your homework, these senior citizen discounts can really add up!

Something you’ll need to find out about senior citizen discounts is exactly what the company defines as a senior citizen. After all, there’s really no universal definition. At some places, a senior citizen is anyone over the age of 55, but at others, it might be 60, 62, or 65. Also, in some cases, both spouses have to be over a certain age to get the discount, but with others, only one has to be defined as a senior citizen. For example, hubby is almost always considered as a senior citizen, but I’m not. I’ve found that we make hotel reservations in his name, we almost always get senior citizen discounts. When we dine out, however, he gets the discount, but I don’t.

Outdoor adventure travel can take you anywhere.
Outdoor adventure travel can take you anywhere. | Source

Outdoor Adventure Travel

Outdoor adventure travel gives participants an opportunity to be part of nature and to see it up close and personal. Just how extreme you want to take this idea is totally up to you. Do you want to zipline through the tops of trees in a rain forest, or had you rather go scuba diving on a coral reef? Perhaps you’d prefer an eco-tour where you can learn about threatened wildlife. Wherever your interests lie, you’ll have a world of options.

Before choosing a specific outdoor adventure travel, you need to realistically assess your physical condition. Make sure you’re up to all the required activities. Adventure travel for older adults is usually specifically planned for senior citizens, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. After all, the terms “older adults” and “senior citizens” are relative and cover a wide range of ages. Also, some senior citizens are in much better shape than others. That’s why it’s so important for you to fully understand what the outdoor travel adventure entails. Never be afraid to ask questions about all the ins and outs of adventure travel for older adults!

On horseback riding vacations, you might get to work cattle.
On horseback riding vacations, you might get to work cattle. | Source
Saddle up, partner!
Saddle up, partner! | Source

Horseback Riding Vacations

Horseback riding vacations are awesome! Keep in mind, however, that I love horses and rode my own steeds daily for years. Even if you’ve never saddled up, though, you can find a riding vacation to match your skill level and your wishes. Whether you just prefer a leisurely walk through the countryside, or whether you want to play the part of a real cowpoke and round up cattle, you’ll find the right horseback riding vacations for you.

Some horseback riding vacations provide luxurious lodging and fine dining, where you can choose from a lot of different activities. With such luxury adventure travel, you might want to ride for just an hour or so a day – a slow, gentle ride along an easy trail. At the other extreme are the working horseback riding vacations, where you’re in the saddle for the majority of the day. One example of this is cattle drives, where you spend several days moving a herd. These don’t qualify as luxury adventure travel. You’ll camp outdoors and eat rustic meals on the trail. If you’re not used to riding, spending long hours on the back of a horse can be punishing to your backside and your legs.

If you like the idea of doing real ranch work but want to sleep in a real bed every night, you can find these horseback riding vacations, too, and they’re a good compromise between the cattle drive and the luxury adventure travel trail-riding vacations. At most of these facilities, you can choose how much or how little ranch work you want to participate in – moving cattle, roping, branding calves, mending fences, etc.

Hiking Trips, anyone? This is the famous Appalachian Trail.
Hiking Trips, anyone? This is the famous Appalachian Trail. | Source
Hiking often provides lots of wildlife encounters.
Hiking often provides lots of wildlife encounters. | Source

Hiking Trips

Hiking trips can also be wonderful adventure travel for older adults. Maybe you’re thinking of hiking trips as maneuvering difficult terrain that you’re not in good enough physical condition to enjoy. If that’s the case, think again. Some trails are easy walking. Hiking trails are usually rated on a scale from easy to challenging, so you can choose just how much effort you’ll have to expend.

Do you want to go on extended hiking trips, where you camp out along the trail? If that’s too much “roughing it” for you, choose a different type of adventure. You might want to spend every night in a hotel and go on hiking trips during the day. These hikes can be as long or as short as you like. You can also “customize” your hikes even more by seeing only things that interest you – waterfalls, wildlife, birds, etc. In fact, you might prefer to go “hike hopping” and take short treks in several different locations.

River Rafting
River Rafting | Source

River Rafting

When you think of river rafting, the image of battling whitewater rapids might immediately pop into your mind. Of course, if that’s what you’re looking for, that’s great. If, however, you want something a little more leisurely, you can find that, too. Some river rafting trips follow lazy currents, giving you the chance to enjoy the scenery along the banks. I “get” why people enjoy the thrill of whitewater rafting, but I don’t think it’s the best option for soaking in the scenery. Slow, gentle river rafting is more my style of adventure travel for older adults. Actually, I like it best when river rafting is combined with fishing, my favorite outdoor activity! Rafting is sometimes part of other adventure tours. You might also want to combine your rafting trip with hiking and camping, which is totally “doable.” There are also rafting adventures that take guests to historic sites, so choose your options wisely.

River Rafting:

Kayaking vacations can be enjoyed in hundreds of streams in the Southeast.
Kayaking vacations can be enjoyed in hundreds of streams in the Southeast. | Source

Kayaking Vacations

Kayaking vacations can be a great way to explore an area. Kayaks, canoes, and other small vessels can take you to otherwise inaccessible, remote spots that are practically untouched by man. As with hiking trips, with kayaking vacations, you can choose trips where you camp outdoors along your journey, or you can stay in air-conditioned comfort at night and paddle during the day.

The United States has lots of venues for kayaking vacations. In the Southeast, for example, there are tons of small streams and canals that meander through heavily forested areas, allowing you to witness alligators, whitetail deer, bobcats, bears, and other fauna, along with all sorts of plants and birds. Some prime locations for kayaking vacations are the Florida Everglades and Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp. Southern coastal states also have hundreds of tidal creeks that wind through seas of marsh grass. Along the way, you can fish, crab, picnic, swim, and take some great shots with your camera.

Kayaking Vacations - Okefenokee Swamp

Before you go charter fishing, check out the boat.
Before you go charter fishing, check out the boat. | Source

Charter Fishing

Ever been charter fishing? I’ve been several times, and it’s awesome! On one trip, my non-fishing pal came along, and she had a blast. Charter fishing is great adventure travel for older adults. Most boats can even accommodate people in wheelchairs, so you don’t have any excuses.

You can choose where you want to go and what type of fish you want to target. Fishing trips might be short or long, lasting from a few hours to several days. You can choose to stay close to shore, or to travel out to far away reefs or to the Gulf Stream. Best of all, the crew will do the hard work for you, and they’ll do their best to help you catch fish, even if you’re a total beginner.

Before you book passage on a charter fishing boat, compare different captains and prices. Check out the boat, too. Some are much larger and more comfortable than others. For example, you might want to know if the vessel has an air-conditioned area and restrooms. You’ll also need to find out exactly what’s covered and what you’ll need to take yourself.

Charter fishing definitely qualifies as outdoor adventure travel. Depending on the venue, you might get to view all sorts of marine life, including sea turtles, whales, dolphins, manatees, and numerous species of birds. Some fishing trips, like those in the Everglades, for example, will also provide sightings of wild land mammals and reptiles. Some charter fishing captains also offer packages that include a little bit of everything – fishing, sightseeing, shelling, snorkeling, and an eco-tour, all in one.

Charter Fishing:

Group Travel

Group travel adventure tours might be right up your proverbial alley. Several outfits offer group travel just for senior citizens, so you’ll be around people your age. Another benefit of this type of senior travel is the price, which might be significantly less expensive than some other types of travel. Your trip might also provide a tour guide, which can be beneficial when you’re visiting somewhere that’s new to you.

Group travel isn’t for everyone. If you like setting your own pace or having a lot of privacy, you might not like this type of travel. You’ll need to weigh the advantages and the disadvantages for yourself. Also, be sure to read all the fine print about what’s involved and what isn’t. You certainly don’t want any negative surprises once you’re “stuck” with a group. Find out about what’s included in the price, including meals, lodging, and tours. Also, ask how much “free time” and options you’ll be given.

Bus Tours can be a great way to see the country.
Bus Tours can be a great way to see the country. | Source

Bus Tours

Many senior citizens enjoy bus tours. Participants sit back and enjoy the scenery while someone else does the driving and navigating and fighting traffic. Like other forms of group travel, bus tours aren’t everyone’s “cup of tea.” Personally, I don’t do well on bus tours because I get terrible motion sickness. I can’t just tell the driver to pull over when I want to.

On the other hand, bus tours can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re with a lively group. There’s usually a certain amount of camaraderie with fellow travelers. Your fellow travelers, by the way, might include total strangers or people you know, depending on the specific tour you select.

Before choosing bus tours, examine the itinerary carefully. Ask about meals, travel breaks, and stopping at points of interest on the route. For places you really want to see, find out exactly how much time you’ll get to spend there.

Train Tours are comfortable and relaxing.
Train Tours are comfortable and relaxing. | Source

Train Tours

Have you ever considered train tours? I find them much more enjoyable than bus tours. I have several reasons for this opinion. For one thing, trains aren’t as confining as buses. You can get up and walk around fairly easily after getting your “train legs.” You can stroll to the club car for a drink or to the dining car for a meal. You don’t have to worry about traffic, either. Today’s trains are comfortable, too.

You can find train tours all around the globe, providing a dizzying array of choices. You can choose tours of multiple days, where you sleep aboard the train, or you can opt for day tours that might last just a few hours. Also, some train tours have gotten pretty creative with how they entertain their guests. For example, you can go on mystery train tours, where a “murder” is committed, and you and the other passengers have to solve the crime.

Train Tours:

Senior Citizen Cruises can be loads of fun!
Senior Citizen Cruises can be loads of fun! | Source

Senior Citizen Cruises

Boy, do I love cruises! In my opinion, cruises are the ultimate vacation, with something for everyone. If you want to just sit back and relax, you can. If you want to stay busy and engaged day and night, you can do that, too. Believe me, you’ll never be bored on a cruise. Of course, you’ll get to visit and explore some fascinating ports of call, but there’s a lot of fun to be had aboard the ship, too. Better cruises provide casinos, live shows, bars, dance clubs, games, shopping, swimming pools, hot tubs, salons, and a choice of restaurants. Some even have rock climbing and skeet shooting on the ship. When it comes to outdoor adventure travel, many cruises offer that, too, with shore excursions. What types of outdoor adventure travel might be offered? Some include riding horses in the blue waters of the Caribbean, sportsfishing, snorkeling, diving, hiking, and visiting ancient ruins.

If you’re a senior citizen, spending several days on a ship with a lot of kids might not sound like fun. You might want to consider senior citizen cruises, instead. Senior citizen cruises are just for older adults, and the activities and shows are usually planned to appeal to this group. If you’re a “young” senior, don’t worry about hanging out with a bunch of “old fogies.” Some of the senior citizen cruises can get pretty wild!

Senior action on a cruise:

Senior Citizen Travel Insurance

Senior citizen travel insurance is usually a good idea. Let’s face it: Once you become an older adult, your health is never guaranteed. Sure, young people get sick, too, but older individuals are more likely to have health issues, so senior citizen travel insurance can save you a lot of money and headaches in case you have to cancel your adventure travel, in case you get sick or injured while on vacation, or in case some emergency lengthens your stay in a particular location. You can compare different plans to see which is the best fit for you.

For the most part, senior citizen travel insurance is only offered to individuals 65 and over. Be careful when you’re choosing a plan, too. Some unscrupulous companies try to take advantage of seniors, so it’s best to find one that’s recommended by a reputable advocacy group. Keep in mind, too, that senior citizen travel insurance is sometimes pretty costly, so you’ll have to decide if the value is worth the cost.

Adventure Travel - to the extreme!
Adventure Travel - to the extreme! | Source

Adventure Travel for Older Adults

Adventure travel for older adults spans lots of options, and I’ve mentioned just a few here. Use your imagination, and try something different! Sit down with your travel partner, spouse, or friends and do some brainstorming. What type of outdoor adventure travel is everyone interested in? Narrow the top choices down to three or four, based on activities. Then scale back the number of choices by preferred locations. For example, let’s say that everyone wants to go scuba diving – but where? Once you’ve agreed on a venue, you can work on the details like when to go and how many days the trip should last. Most of all, it’s important to be as open-minded as possible. You really can teach an old dog new tricks, as long as the dog is willing to learn. Try to remain young at heart, and use that frame of mind when you’re thinking about adventure travel for older adults


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