The Older the Bolder

Travel Talk

Travel for the older generation used to mean a nice gentle cruise or a smart hotel on the seafront. But these days the over 50s are opting for adventurous experiences that don’t compromise on comfort.

"B****** Bognor" said George V after he was told by his doctor that he should go to the Sussex seaside resort to recuperate. And as us baby boomers start to age, more of us are making a similar response to tucking the tartan rug round our legs, and instead are looking farther afield to adventurous holidays that would challenge much younger travellers.

We are more health and fitness conscious than our parents’ generation and we have grown up with the Travel Bug –backpacking across India started in the 1960s and although ‘too old to rock and roll’ now, travellers of 50 plus are choosing adventurous travel options which don’t compromise on comfort.

Real Life Stories of life-changing experiences

Travelling to Tibet
Heather Hamilton, 58, from Belfast, Northern Ireland travelled to Tibet with Gap Adventures – a country she had always wanted to visit since she read Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer.

“As this was my first experience of travelling with a group I was a little bit apprehensive,” says Heather “most were younger than my husband and I but thanks to the nature of small group travel we were able to fit in and we made a number of good friends even if there were some activities I couldn’t take part in there was usually another option. The group was also very international with Norwegians, Irish, British, Canadians and Danish so I don’t think the age matters so much.

”Travelling to Tibet is not the normal type of holiday and brought a number of challenges (mainly the travelling and altitude) so on return to the UK I felt that I had really accomplished something. I had seen a place that I had dreamt about; I had made my first long distance flight and I’d had my first experience of Asia. In essence I had a life-changing experience”.

Bruce on Tour
Bruce Sai Louie also took the  decision to travel with a younger group when he made his first trip to Africa 12 months ago spending 2 months camping overland. Bruce says, “Being a New Zealand born Chinese, I have been fortunate to have had many opportunities to travel the world. I used to camp, tramp, climb mountains, kayak and sail .But that was in my younger days so what was 42 days travelling by truck overland through Africa pitching a tent and sleeping on the ground going to be like?” Amazing, was the answer. As a keen amateur photographer, he wanted to capture pictures of animals living in their natural environment as well as meet with locals So inspiring was the trip, organized by Acacia Africa, that Bruce, in his late 50s, has created his own blog. It can be found on His traveller name is "bruceontour".

Scaling new heights
Also keen to capture his travels on camera, Bob Hamilton travelled to Iceland with Wild Photography which specialises in small-group photography holidays in wild and inaccessible places. Run by Geraldine Westrupp, in her late 50’s herself, she took Bob on a photographic holiday around Iceland which he describes as; “A ten day long clockwise circuit of the perimeter of the island, taking in the glaciated fjords of the Snaefellsnes peninsula in the west, the arid, bubbling geothermal north, the magnificent fjords of the east and the glaciated south,. As a hillwalker, the evening circuit of the huge ash ring of Hverfjall overlooking Lake Myvatn, the strenuous climb to the precipitous summit of Hliderfjall and the climb, through thigh high snow, in the Dyrfjoll mountains overlooking isolated Borgarfjordur stand out but, in reality, the highlight was being able to travel, walk and photograph in somewhere so completely distinct and different, which is the object of adventures such as this and what I seek more and more for my leisure activities.

Plunging new depths
My husband David was in his 40s when he started scuba diving, and now, in his mid 50s, he has completed dives all over the world from Scapa Flow in Orkney to the Caribbean, the Indian ocean, the Atlantic and even The English channel in the heart of winter! You are never too old to learn scuba diving. It's not necessary to be in peak fitness or be a super athlete. However, you do need the  strength to walk with full scuba diving gear. Once you enter the waters, you are almost weightless. Time and money are the main essentials for this sport, which make it increasingly popular with older people of both sexes. Joining your local scuba club is the best way to get started, meet fellow dive enthusiasts and sign up for dive trips at home and abroad.

Judith Baker left her native Manchester in 1977 to pursue a career in journalism and has travelled the world since then, focusing in particular on the Caribbean region and East Africa. Her favourite places are Lalibela in Ethiopia and the West Indian island of St. Vincent. She is Editor of The Caribbean Property Investor as well as REAL TRAVEL magazine.

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Judith Baker

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