What Are the Best Senior Tours? You May Be Surprised
Once you have decided to go on a group tour, you will need to select a specific destination and itinerary. With so many tour operators to choose from, how do you find the best senior tours?
Get Started with Your “Must Have” List
Begin your senior tour selection process by writing down your own “must have” list. We all have personal travel preferences, and you should look for a tour that includes all or nearly all of the items on your list.
I have found that most mature travelers’ “must have” lists include the following factors:
Senior Tours Offer Value for Money
Even millionaires want to spend their money wisely. We love tours that give good value. That doesn’t mean we want to sleep in tiny, unairconditioned rooms or eat tasteless food. We want our tour experience to be worth the money we’ve paid, and the best senior tour operators know that means they must live up to their promises and fix things when problems arise.
No Single Supplement
Tour operators who understand that some travelers want or need to have a room of their own truly understand the senior and Baby Boomer market. To many of us, sharing a room with a stranger is not only unappealing, it’s a bit frightening. We love having the option to keep our snores to ourselves without having to pay a hefty single supplement.
Vacations are supposed to be relaxing. Tours that have us on the go from early morning until late at night are exhausting. Of course, there are times when early wake-up calls are necessary, perhaps to catch a flight or tour a bustling fish market, and that’s fine, but we don’t want to be on our feet all day, every day, without rest breaks.
Seriously, who wants to travel with a herd? We want to be part of the local scene, not standing in an enormous group looking in from the outside. Small group travel gives us the chance to involve ourselves in each day’s experiences and to make new friends along the way.
The best tours offer ways to connect with local people and their cultures. We want to see the famous sights, of course – who goes to Florence and skips Michelangelo’s David? But we also want to learn how pasta is made, go backstage at a famous theatre and try our hand at bocce. We want to return home knowing that travel has changed how we see the world.
We love having the option to choose whether to participate in a particular activity or relax in our room on days when we’re not moving from one hotel to another. Everyone needs a break once in a while, even when on vacation.
Narrow Down Your Options
Once you know what you want your senior tour experience to include, you can review tour descriptions by destination and make a list of trips that fit your requirements. Look for key phrases such as “level of difficulty” and “what’s included” so you will know how much walking is required and which meals and side trips are included in the tour price. You’ll want to research departure cities, airfare and ground transportation costs, baggage allowances and the typical weather at your destination.
Keep in mind that the best senior tour for you is the one you want to go on and can afford.
A Sampling of Senior Tours
To help you start planning your trip, here are some examples of senior tours that are supplement-free on specific departure dates, offer immersion opportunities with the group or on your own and take you to culturally rich destinations.
SWT Tours’ Puglia Power tour takes you to one of southern Italy’s most fascinating regions. You’ll have a room to yourself in a luxurious agriturismo (working farm hotel). Explore the mysterious Castel del Monte, Frederick II Hohenstaufen’s unique octagonal castle, learn to make Italian-style pizza, taste wine with a local sommelier and visit Matera, the UNESCO World Heritage Site that was the backdrop for The Passion of the Christ, Garibaldi and The Nativity Story.
Voyages Jules Verne’s Sikhs & Exiles tour explores India’s complex religious heritage. You’ll visit the Golden Temple, the holiest place on Earth to Sikhs, and learn about the Sikh tradition of langar, or sacred food service. You’ll also tour Mcleod Ganj, home of Tibet’s government-in-exile and the Dalai Lama, and spend time in Shimla, Amritsar and Delhi. Hotels on this tour are heritage properties, which means they may not have elevators. This tour departs from London; airfare is included.
Overseas Adventure Travel’s tours can be a great choice for energetic travelers, particularly those who enjoy being outdoors. OAT’s Back Roads of Iberia: Spanish Paradores & Portuguese Pousadas tour takes you to Lisbon, Évora, Carmona, Ronda, Úbeda, Granada and Madrid. All along the way, you’ll stay in paradores and pousadas, the historic inns of Spain and Portugal. You’ll see Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, tour a winery and a working windmill and visit Roman ruins. Hands-on experiences include a Portuguese cooking class and an olive oil tasting.
One Traveller, a family-run tour operator based in the UK, specializes in singles vacations for travelers age 50 and older. All of their trips are supplement-free. One Traveller’s Kraków tour takes you to Poland’s second-largest city for five nights. You’ll take a city tour, explore the amazing Wieliczka Salt Mine and have time on your own to explore.
If you’d like to visit Auschwitz, the Zakopane resort or Kraków’s Jewish quarter, you can sign up for one or more optional excursions, which cost from $50 to $65. Airfare from London is included in your tour price.
For a more do-it-yourself option, consider Solitair, a UK-based tour operator that caters exclusively to solo travelers. This tour company offers trips to resorts around the world. Solitair’s Charming Sardinia tour includes a week’s stay at an Alghero beachside resort, airfare from London’s Stansted Airport, breakfast and dinner daily and airport transfers.
You can spend your days as you like; join an optional tour to the walled city of Sassari or to Neptune’s Cave, rent a bicycle and explore Alghero’s Catalan heritage or relax by the pool.
Have you gone on a great senior tour? What made this group tour experience stand out? Tell us about your tour in the comments below.