Considering a trip? Think of us first if you have any travel questions or concerns! We’d love to help
” button_text=”About Us” button_link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Ftravxp.com%2Fcontact-travel-experts-san-diego%2F||target:%20_blank” info_effect=”fadeInUp” banner_size=”335″ overlay_color=”rgba(211,211,211,0.01)” ib3_border=”dashed” ib3_border_width=”2″ button_color=”#efef21″ desc_color=”#515151″ desc_line_height=”20″ desc_font_family=”font_family:|font_call:” desc_font_size=”14″ ib3_background=”rgba(255,255,255,0.01)” ib3_border_color=”#efef21″]
Want to be notified via e-mail when Parts 2 & 3 of our Senior Travel Series are released? Yeah?! Drop your e-mail here!
Part 1 of a 3 Part Travel Series :
How I Changed My View On Senior Travel
It isn’t easy to get someone to change their opinion. And yet, this is the story of how my opinion about senior travel ACTUALLY changed. To be clear, I’m not a senior. In fact, I am not even nearing senior-hood. I am freshly 27, and while I sound old to myself (27?! How did that happen?! I’m still 22!), I know that in the great scheme of things, I am still young.
I decided to turn to women who are less-young than me for help in my search to understand the senior travel world. Originally I published an article called “8 Senior Citizen Travel Tips“, based on an interview conducted with Gwen McCauley, a 68 year old woman I’d met online. Gwen and I had the good fortune to have encountered one another in a very active facebook group called “Girls Love Travel”, which acts as a watering hole for over 80,000 female world travelers. The members in the influential facebook group, founded by another inspiring woman who travels, Hayley Woods, act as a global “insta-friend “network and support group to each other. A frequent poster in Girls Love Travel, Gwen had always inspired me from afar with her outgoing and upbeat travel posts. I was drawn to her, so I asked for an interview.
Introducing the Women of the Hour
"Remember, you, too, will be on the far side of 50 someday. Who do you want to be? Write to that woman."
Getting to know Gwen and hearing her advice for senior travelers was something new to me. Like many “youths”, I have always secretly feared aging. It’s not something I like to think about a lot, in fact, I honestly can’t imagine myself as even 50 years old. What would 50 year old Alyne look like? What does she think about? Does she enjoy sunsets on balconies? Is she a cat lady yet? How many grey hairs does have? And are they at LEAST the nice silver grey kind?
As I interviewed Gwen, I started to see more into the world of “Adult-Adults” as I like to think of them. I, at age 27, am currently commonly acknowledged as an adult, but I feel more like a “pre-adult”. Once I’m in my 30’s-40’s, I’ll hopefully be an “Adult” and by my 50’s, I aspire to be an “Adult-Adult”. As I spoke with Gwen and the other women who I’ll introduce later, I slowly became more comfortable with the idea of “Traveling as a person of a certain age”. So comfortable in fact, that I decided to research the topic and write a full series on it. The first article, 8 Travel Tips for Senior Travelers, had a lot of great travel tips from Gwen, as well as from the owner of Travel Experts, another “woman of a certain 50+ age”, Dotschi Schloh.
A TALK WITH MY MOTHER
In addition to speaking with women like Gwen and Dotschi, I figured I should probably do what all wise people have done and ask my mother. My mom is no stranger to travel. She’s been around the world, and even married someone she met on a trip to Israel in the 80’s (Oh hey Dad!). My mom is active and social, plays soccer almost daily, visits the elderly, is active in her church, fluent in multiple languages, and can navigate facebook like a pro. She’s a school teacher, so she has free time. She’s careful with her finances, so she has some savings. So why doesn’t the woman who inspired me to visit over 50 countries travel herself anymore? I asked her. Her response?
“Too much trouble, too much money, and it’s too scary.”
I responded, “But Mom, you used to travel so much?!” She texted me back: “Well, the first time I traveled I took a tour and I loved it. They took care of me. I was with a group, and they took care of all the arrangements. Don’t be afraid to let someone do that for you. If you’re already experienced with travel, you can do what you want, and if you’re somewhere in between, don’t be afraid to let a professional help you answer your questions, and figure something out that you’re comfortable with.”
Since I work for a Travel Agency, this was a great answer. “Book a Tour!” 10/10 Mom. You’ve got my back. Alright, so I’d done my homework. I’d asked my favorite senior (or almost senior) her points of pain, as well as what she’d enjoyed. Now all I had to do was write an amazing 3 part series on senior travel. But… I’m actually kind of really terrible at writing articles.
AN ATTEMPT TO SAVE THE AWFUL MESS
I’d originally wanted to write an article (this article!) that would help her and her contemporaries answer these questions about how and where to travel in their Adult-Adult-hood, but unfortunately, my excitement and drive for the concept did not actually translate into a coherent, useful piece. In fact, it translated into what I would generously describe as “an awful mess”.
I decided to send my very “awful mess” to a few older a.k.a more experienced women I respect and admire, to get their feedback and guidance on writing to a “senior audience” or “retirees” (and I still wasn’t even sure of the most PC term).
Consulting with Sue #1
First, the “Awful Mess” was shipped off via e-mail to my beloved girl scout leader, Sue Bickford. Sue is a woman who I was maybe a tiny bit scared of growing up, and who is admirably outdoorsy, crazy good at math, witty, and fun. Sue was the perfect girl scout leader, as she lives her life in a way that makes her a great example to women everywhere. By example, she shows that women can work in any field (math, engineering etc), work hard and succeed at anything, and that they don’t have to conform to society’s standards for them. Even her facebook posts are inspirational : stories of women overcoming hardship, working in fields often dominated by men, and even simple photos of her family having amazing vacations. Her daughter, Rachael, who I am lucky to call a good friend of mine, has followed in her proverbial footsteps, blazing literal trails through national forests where she volunteered, and through Costa Rican rainforests where she lived like a local.
Who better than the educated, intellectual Sue Bickford, nearing retirement herself, to constructively criticize my latest …”opus”? She began, “I am glad this opportunity [to review this article about traveling as a senior] popped up now and not 5 or 10 years ago. Dan and I are within 5 years of retirement and we are starting to consider what that will look like for us. It will definitely involve travel!”
“I […] hate the first paragraph.”
Yikes. Well! Honesty at its finest. But I didn’t mind, I actually hated the first paragraph too, I just hadn’t known how to fix it. I’d just sort of hoped that even though I didn’t like it, other people would just absolutely love it, and my work would be done, and also I’d be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. My original first paragraph had essentially showcased just how clueless I was about Senior travel. I’d used cringe worthy, generic sentences like “Who says that retirement means the end of excitement and activity?” and championed buzzwords “be spontaneous and open minded”…because apparently seniors need to be reminded of these things #fail Sue gently continued,
“The idea that we are considered old and boring is not flattering to anyone, writer or reader.
In my head are 59 years of memories that I can call up in an instant. So, you don’t want your article to have any trace of an impression that the writer is writing to a foreign species…old people.
Retirement is not a sentence to sit down and wait the years out until you die.
Travel is an adventure to be embraced by older folks with as much enthusiasm as you have for it, Alyne. The difference is that we have to accommodate aging bodies to a larger or smaller degree. We are no strangers to accommodations, because, in raising children, there are always accommodations that had to be made for very small bodies. Most of us are convinced that we want to travel. The tone is more helpful if it assumes our competence and desire from the beginning and goes about your tips with the how.
Remember, you, too, will be on the far side of 50 someday. Who do you want to be? Write to that woman.
"Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times."
I basked in the glow of her e-mail. It was just so well written. Her casual response to my article was about 10 times more eloquent than my actual article. After re-reading her e-mail I scrambled to action. I would research seniors even more! I would understand their perspective! I would BE THE SENIOR.
It brought back a memory from high school, when my AP English teacher Mrs. Goldberg (who I idolized) had observed me reading a magazine before class. She stood at her podium at the front of the classroom, peered at the cover and asked
“…Do you know what that magazine is, Alyne?”
I glanced up, a bit alarmed, wondering what the magazine could possibly be, and replied,
“Noooo, it just looked interesting so I checked it out from the library?”
She laughed and announced to the class,
“Alyne is reading AARP! It stands for ‘American Association for Retired Persons!” As everyone laughed and giggled, Mrs. Goldberg said, “You really are an old soul Alyne.”
But this old soul of mine…where was it now?! Why hadn’t my years of inadvertently reading AARP paid off?! I’d spent hours researching Seniors like I research my trips. What do seniors or retired people think about? How do they like to be spoken to? Who even counts as a senior?! Am I even addressing seniors, or retirees, or just anyone with leisure travel time over 30?
I scoured more reports released by the AARP on Senior Travel Habits, frequented sites like “Boomer Travel Patrol.com” and googled “Senior travel tips” so many times that Google is surely starting to suspect that I’m actually 65. But whether I was 65 or 27, I still had a goal to reach: Learn enough about senior travel to be able to advise people on how to do it. I had some help Sue, from co-workers (like Angelica, below) and from…
Coffee Break! 50 years young: Get to know Angelica!
Meet my lovely co-worker, Angelica Orozco, who I met one year ago. She’s fluent in Spanish, has worked in the travel industry for almost 30 years (!), and also probably has more high heels than you. Angelica is also one of our best travel consultants who leads amazing fun groups of friends to beachy destinations like Costa Rica, Cancun, and Hawaii. She is also 50 years old which is kind of crazy because every time I see her I swear she’s my age.
"There comes a time when one is either going to hit the bucket list ...or not."
… Sue #2, a.k.a. Susan Lawless.
Sue #2 came into my acquaintance as a church youth leader in my teenage years. Susan has that certain je ne sais quois, children with purple hair and crazy violin skills, and lives on what I might describe as a pretty cool, low-key farm.
“Hopefully I was not too honest for you.” she began, foreshadowing the well meant bloodbath that was to come, “ Overall, you come across as not really knowing your audience.“ STRIKE ONE.
“ The basic points are great, but…I’m 48, certainly not a senior citizen, and 50 and 60 and 70 and 80 and 90 mean something different to me than they did when I was in my twenties. Nobody wants to be pigeonholed. There could be all sorts of reasons a person views travel differently than they might have earlier in their lives: freedom from the responsibilities of raising children or giving care to an ill parent or spouse, having a broader perspective of the world (or WANTING to gain a broader perspective of the world), having greater financial resources (or having the maturity to realize that despite limited resources, there comes a point when one is either going to hit the bucket list or not.) Some people look to travel upon receiving a diagnosis, or having a loved one get a reminder that time is fleeting. The world was far more compartmentalized when older people were your age, and fear, so much fear, of the unknown was a bigger deal. I cannot tell you how many times people gasped when I announced I was moving to Russia in 1993. “
Sue #2 made a lot of good points, and I felt I was closer to understanding not only what older travelers are looking for, but how it would feel for me to someday be “an older traveler”. After reading her e-mail I started thinking about the fact that currently inaccessible places like Syria, Iran, and Iraq might someday, in my “Adult-Adult” years, actually be accessible to tourism! Super exciting. Maybe kids in the future will think of those places as run of the mill tourist spots, and I’ll be the one remembering the days that the word “Syria” was instantly associated with ISIS and refugees as opposed to with beautiful vistas and ancient historical sites. I realized I’d started writing hoping to advise older travelers and in the end, the “older travelers” had ended up advising me! So: Did I learn anything from this whole writing and researching process?
Final Takeaways on senior travel
The 3 Lessons I Learned From Getting Travel Advice From Older Travelers
LESSON ONE: The older generation views certain parts of the world completely differently than I do
Think of it : Countries that were off limits, we can now visit! It’s just so exciting. Cuba and North Korea, once virtually impenetrable, have opened up to varying degrees. Americans can now visit Cuba on special “People to People” tours, a government sponsored educational trip that can be easily arranged through a travel agency. It’s not yet open to casual tourism. Nostalgic for the days of propaganda filled media? North Korea awaits! Videographer Nuseir Yassin of Nas Daily said of his visit to North Korea, “to see people that are ignorant of everything we know and are still happy to some extent gets you thinking. It leaves you confused. It leaves you wanting to learn more. It’s so f*cking crazy it’s hard to put into words. That’s why you have to go there, to know it.” You can visit on a special, propaganda filled tour. “It’s a time capsule” continued Nuseir, who visited North Korea on a group tour in 2015. “It’s a prison with 25 million people in it.” Tours include all meals, state provided accommodation, transportation, etc. Photography is allowed, but in limited areas.
LESSON TWO: “The older generation” is just as capable and interested in travel as I am.
They do not need to be convinced to travel, only given the best tools and resources. As a pre-adult that can barely crawl out of bed at 10 am, I’d always kind of thought that by the time I was an adult-adult, I wouldn’t have energy to do much anymore. I’d always hear people say things like “Wow, I had so much energy when I was young, not anymore!” So my brain had translated that to: “ALYNE, ONCE YOU ARE OLD IT’S ALL OVER.” Admittedly, my brain may have over reacted a tad, but we shall forgive it and move on to lesson number three.
LESSON THREE: “The Older Generation” doesn’t necessarily like to be thought of as “The Older Generation”
I will heretofore think of my elders as the generation with different experiences. The generation that is more-likely-to-be-sage. The antique generation (just kidding!). “Aged like a fine wine generation”. “The generation of a certain age”. Actually, on that note, looks like I might need some more help. ESSENTIALLY, the older generation is just the past younger generation. And they can’t and shouldn’t really be generalized, because they are all different (this sounds so obvious, but I’d always lumped “SENIORS” together into the images I see on billboards for retirement homes). Seniors who travel, and seniors in general, are the same people they were before, just their bodies have maybe settled a bit. One day, that will be me! And I hope I’m an awesome, fun senior.
So there you have it! The thrilling episode of how I, Alyne Tamir, changed my opinion. If you’re still here, thanks for bearing through with me on this journey, and I hope you’ll enjoy part 2 and 3 which will be more informational and factual advice from myself and other Travel Experts. They will be released weekly. In the meantime you can enjoy some of our interviews (we suggest National Geographic photographer Michael Christopher Brown) or our upcoming tours to sweet places like Slovenia and Croatia.
Feeling Inspired? Call us at 760-941-6900. We're your Travel Experts.
Planning a Trip? Book with us:
Want to be notified via e-mail when Parts 2 & 3 are released? Drop your e-mail here!
Part II: Where to Go.
We’ll discuss how to choose a destination, and I’ll introduce you to traveling in the Balkans, Europe, South East Asia, Cuba, and other interesting, beautiful destinations. As Sue #1 said, “You have a lot of experience in Eastern Europe. That area was totally off limits for boomers growing up because of the Soviet Union. That is a travel venue many of us know very little about”.
Part III: How To Do It.
We discuss what customs to expect, unique features of traveling to certain areas, and what kinds of trips you can take (cruises vs tours vs independent travel etc). We’ll explore affordable, comfortable, higher end, accommodations and tours, amazing but accessible hikes (like Preikestolen in Norway) and other unique destinations that are now accessible but not over run.
Thanks for Reading! Meet the Author-ess:
Alyne Tamir is a 27 year old person who went to University and also got a great SAT score in high school that 10 years later is still her life’s greatest accomplishment. She has been to over 50 countries, and especially loves Eastern Europe and the Balkans. She worked in Viral Video marketing, and has now semi-retired to work in Digital and Social Media. Currently based in Istanbul, she literally moved to Eastern Europe because she wanted to eat cheese pastries every day. She incidentally knows a lot about travel, and can be reached via the internet at:
Oh look, we won an award!
For us!? Too sweet. While we love winning awards, the biggest award of all is our customers happiness and satisfaction. Hearing you had a great trip thanks to our planning for you makes us happy. Awwww.