Travelling when you're older (and wiser)
For many, the thought of jumping on a plane and exploring the world is just a dream. Work, family, mortgages, bills and many of life's responsibilities take over.
For those who never managed to get away on their OE, fear not, travel among older people is on the rise. It's easy to see why... the kids have left home, the mortgage has been paid off for years and there's finally time and money to see the world.
Flight Centre New Zealand's Sue Matson says older travellers are setting sail on adventures with affordable airfares, and tailored tour packages that are now more accessible.
"Travel was always a limitation for travellers who are 65 years old and up. But nowadays many tour companies cater to their needs.
"More to the point though, these travellers are embracing their golden years and what better way than to travel the world," Matson said.
But where do you go and how do you start? Flight Centre's list of the best holiday styles for older travellers will get you started:
1. CRUISE THE WORLD
Cruising is one of the most popular forms of travel, offering great value for money and none of the hassles associated with organising a typical land-based holiday.
The chance to visit several exotic destinations on one holiday has great appeal, while an all-inclusive price means cruisers can save hundreds on the total cost of a holiday. It's also a great way to meet like-minded travellers in the same age group.
2. CONSIDER A RIVER CRUISE
More relaxed than an international crusade of the seas, river cruises sail the great waterways of the world on intimate ships designed to maximise the views.
Rivers cruises offer a new perspective on favourite destinations such as Europe, Asia and America, with a relaxed paced itinerary that is well suited to older travellers.
The ultimate in touring experiences, a river cruise explores the heart of a region's culture, history and attractions aboard some of the best ships on the water.
3. TAKE A DRIVING TOUR
Hit cruise control and discover the road less travelled on a holiday where you navigate your own course.
A driving holiday offers endless options, with iconic destinations that include Australia's Great Ocean Road and America's Route 66, to a meandering exploration of the quaint back roads of Europe or scenery spotting in New Zealand.
The allure of the open road has seen many senior travellers escaping on a driving holiday where they can set the pace and the route.
4. ALL-INCLUSIVE HOLIDAYS
All-inclusive is the perfect package option for retired travellers looking to spend their twilight years in style.
All-inclusive packages mean you don't need to worry about a thing once you check in with all your meals, drinks and activities pre-paid, pre-booked and ready to go.
From relaxing beach retreats to European adventures, all-inclusive packages take the stress out of planning a holiday. Well-established, global property chains such as Club Med and Sandals offer great value, all-inclusive packaged prices.
5. INDULGE IN FOOD AND WINE
Food and wine speciality tours have surged in popularity as more people embrace them as a way to really get a taste for a particular destination.
Travelling through Europe is sometimes like perusing a wine list or an al-a-carte menu. Bologna, Bordeaux, Napoli... they all make your mouth water.
Asia is also known for its culinary delights and fusion of flavours and any foodie can attest that sometimes a holiday isn't complete without a sample of the national dish or local delicacy.
6. DRAW UP A BUCKET LIST
Conquering personal fears and adrenalin experiences, or simply trying new experiences all rate high on the bucket list for many travellers. Jack Nicholson paved the way for older travellers seeking adventure in his movie The Bucket List.
For the adventurous, there are mountain climbs and thrill-seeking activities, but for many it's simply the chance to experience a different culture, or take in some of the world's most famous tourist sites that rate highly.
Adding your travel plan to a list of personal achievements or accomplishments makes the holiday even more fulfilling.
7. EXTEND YOUR STAY
For a true 'immersive journey', an extended stay holiday allows you to really explore a region, culture or local area for a longer period of time. Many seasoned travellers argue that you don't really get to truly experience a culture until you've spent more than a few weeks there.
Extended stay holiday options are perfect because they offers travellers an opportunity to explore their holiday destination in more detail without the worry of fitting everything into a limited itinerary.
Extended stays are perfect for exploring Europe and its many beautiful regions.
8. KEEP IT SMALL
Small group journeys follow a flexible itinerary and relaxed pace, which can be tailored to the preferences of those in the group. Targeted at those aged from 45 to 75 who are looking for intimate travel experiences, small group journeys go beyond the typical tourist attractions and provide opportunities for travellers to interact with the local people in cultural activities, rather than just watch.
Travellers can linger longer in areas they enjoy, share home-cooked meals with families in France, and visit remote areas that are often closed off to large tour groups.
'Voluntouring' is a great way to stay active and at the same time, create a meaningful travel experience.
There are many different types of volunteer programs that allow travellers to participate in a project for a local community and at the same time, take in the local sights and immerse themselves in a different culture.
Motivated by a desire to give back to the community, voluntouring is perfectly suited to seniors looking for adventure and an emotional connection to their travel experience.
10. TAKE THE FAMILY
Multi-generational holidays have become an increasingly popular way for families to spend quality time together.
Kids, parents and grandparents are packing their bags and heading off on a family getaway that suits all generations to craft life-long memories of their holiday together.
Cruising is the perfect option for a multi-generational holiday with a variety of onboard activities that keep everyone from the young to the young at heart entertainment, while theme park visits to the likes of Disneyland in California or the amusement parks on the Gold Coast are exciting holiday options for young and old.