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Affordable Soft Adventure for the Over 50 Crowd (Boomers)

Updated on June 12, 2015
Riding an elephant in Thailand
Riding an elephant in Thailand

What is Soft Adventure?

Think of Soft Adventure as travel for the semi-intrepid. Visit out-of-the-way places. Stay active. Do a lot outdoors. Then return to a hotel room with a real bathroom and hot water at the end of the day.

Why Vacation with a Soft Adventure Travel Company?

You’ve worked all your life. You’ve done a lot. Now, you want to explore the world…worry-free. That’s where travel companies come in. They handle the details: ensure you see the important sites, eat sanitary food and sleep in a comfortable room.

Then there’s companionship and the group dynamic. You already have a common interest – this trip. Sharing with your fellow travelers can really enhance your enjoyment.

Furthermore, when problems occur like a flight cancellation, transportation strike or a coup d’état (happened to me!), the travel company and your trip leader handle it.

What’s left for you to do? Enjoy the adventure.

What are the Advantages of Group Travel with a Tour Company?

  1. Safety
  2. Expert planning and contingency planning
  3. Value (Group rates applied)
  4. Companionship
  5. Convenience

What are the Disadvantages of Group Travel with a Tour Company?

You can eliminate most of these issues by carefully researching your trip:

  1. The pace may not match your energy level: too busy or too leisurely
  2. You may dislike group travel or individuals on the tour
  3. Lack of choice on itinerary, although trip leaders are often open to input
  4. Amenities may not meet expectations

Floating on the Dead Sea in Jordan
Floating on the Dead Sea in Jordan

How Do I Find Travel Companies That Specialize in Soft Adventure?

Google your desired destination to see what travel companies the search returns. You can also attend travel shows, read the Sunday travel section of your paper, and check out travel magazines and websites like Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler and Budget Travel. Here’s a list of great travel blogs: http://www.theexpeditioner.com/the-top-50-travel-blogs/

Girl selling rice birds at temple in Myanmar
Girl selling rice birds at temple in Myanmar

How Do I Select a Travel Company?

Get your priorities in order, and then compare, compare, compare!

Consider group size. Do you like small groups; don’t want to travel with 35 people? If that’s a priority, you’ve just cut your list of travel companies to those with tour groups of 20 people or less.

Determine your budget and look at trip cost. But cost isn’t the only factor to consider. It isn’t enough to choose one company’s tour over another because it is a $1000 less. Drill down into the details to find out why it costs less:

  1. What is the length of the itinerary? How many days are the trips? Is the cheaper trip shorter?
  2. How many sites do you visit?
  3. Look at the number of meals you are getting.
  4. Look at the quality of hotels.
  5. How are you getting around? Renting a tour bus is cheaper than airfare. If you take a bus, you could lose hours in travel time. There is also comfort to consider. The bus ride may be slow and bumpy if the roads are in poor shape.
  6. Do they charge for internal airfare?
  7. What is the satisfaction rating of the trip? Read online reviews.
  8. What is your travel style? Does the tour cater to your special interests? If you are a foodie, some companies stress food while others do not.
  9. Look for extra charges. Is tipping included? Are there extra taxes?
  10. Is airfare included? How do you get to your cruise ship or hotel? Will someone from the company pick you up? If the hotel or ship is far from the airport, reaching your destination by cab or car service could be expensive.
  11. If traveling alone, will you accept a roommate? Do they charge for a single supplement?
  12. What is the pace of the tour? Does it match your energy level and physical capabilities? Do you want to relax, or do you want to see extra temples? OAT tours, for example, are active. On a typical outing, you get back to your hotel right in time for dinner, while Abercrombie & Kent is more leisurely and luxurious. You may see less than OAT, but you take time to relax and enjoy long, elegant meals, especially at dinner.

Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt
Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt

What are Tips for Getting Along with Your Travel Companions?

  1. Be punctual. Do not hold up the group.
  2. Be realistic about your physical capabilities. Do you require assistance to complete a hike? Will your pace slow others down?
  3. Pay attention to your trip leader.
  4. Practice personal hygiene: bathe regularly, wear clean clothes, and use deodorant. No one wants to be around someone who smells bad.
  5. Invite yourself to join a group at a meal.
  6. Stay flexible. For example, your trip leader may seize on a site-seeing opportunity that is not in the itinerary. This is what you are paying for - for your trip leader to make the best decisions.
  7. Start the day off positively. Exchange cheerful greetings in the morning to boost the mood.

What are Some Budget Tips?

There are no hard and fast rules for saving money. Where are you willing to compromise? Roommate? Shorter trip? Off season travel?

You may get travel deals by:

  1. Booking early or last minute
  2. Traveling off season
  3. Recommending your friends to the travel company
  4. Customer loyalty discounts and upgrades
  5. Reviewing the company on the web or liking them on Facebook

What are Tips for Women Travelers?

Many places in the world are not safe for a woman to travel alone. So, here are some tactics veteran women travelers use to stay safe:

  1. Wear a wedding ring or a ring that looks like a wedding ring.
  2. Don't tell strangers your plans. Don't tell them where you are staying.
  3. Know the location of your hotel.
  4. If strangers ask whether you are on vacation, say your husband is here on business. You’re sight-seeing while he is at work.
  5. Dress modestly in conservative countries. Instead of tank-tops and shorts, wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders, even elbows.
  6. Stay cautious and aware.

There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.

— Robert Louis Stevenson

What are Some Safety Tips?

Listen to your trip leader about what is OK to eat and drink and where to eat when you are on your own. In general:

  1. Drink bottled water
  2. Don’t eat street food
  3. Wash your hands, and use wipes frequently
  4. Don’t touch your eyes and face
  5. Visit only recommended restaurants
  6. Eat no more than you eat at home. Be picky. Sample food but don’t eat large portions.

The author took all photos and the video in the article on group trips.

Bon Voyage!

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