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By the time you hit 50, you’ve learned a lot about how to make the best use of your travel time. It’s no accident that older and wiser travelers tend toward senior travel tours, which offer the chance to leave the driving to someone else, not sweat the details and be freed up to really enjoy a destination.
Most tours for older travelers do a good job meeting the needs of travelers in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s, but there are some travel tour companies for seniors that go above and beyond. And while age is just one of the many factors that defines your travel style, it’s still nice to know you’re traveling with a company that puts in the extra effort to make their tours for seniors really work for everyone on the trip.
Here are the travel tour companies for seniors that shine especially bright when it comes to the offerings, amenities and details that serve older travelers.
1. Road Scholar
With its educational focus and tours spanning more than 100 countries and all 50 states, Road Scholar (formerly known as Elderhostel) is a perfect fit for curiosity-driven lifelong learners. The company’s average guest age is 72, but participants on these travel tours for seniors range in age from 50s to 90s. Programs are ranked by level of activity and span the spectrum from “Easy Going” (which focuses more on classroom learning) to more physically demanding options like the outdoor-adventure focused “Outdoor: Challenging” programs.
Road Scholar also offers “Choose Your Pace” senior travel tours that allow participants to adjust their level of challenge on a daily basis. And for skip-gen vacations, Road Scholar offers Grandparent Programs, a series of fun-for-all senior tours designed specifically for grandparents traveling with their grandkids.
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For more than 90 years, Globus has been a trusted guided tour specialist that ranks among the best travel tour companies for seniors. One of the ways it has translated age into wisdom is by recognizing that a one-size-fits-all tour doesn’t work for everyone. Its range of touring types significantly boosts the chance of creating personalized matches between destinations and travelers.
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For instance, some of its travel tours for seniors focus on the big sights and tourist attractions that first-time travelers won’t want to miss. But there are also plenty of itineraries in Italy, the Mediterranean, the U.K. and the U.S. that earn the company’s Undiscovered designation by focusing on off-the-beaten-path attractions and experiences that create once-in-a-lifetime moments for seasoned travelers who want to go deeper into a destination.
And for couples and groups with different interests, Globus’ new Choice Touring format gives people a variety of included activity choices at each destination so that everyone can find the right adventure.
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3. Intrepid Travel
With its focus on active trips, you might think of Intrepid Travel as a tour company geared toward younger people. But Matt Berna, Intrepid Travel’s North America managing director, sums up the company’s age-inclusive ethos when he says, “Life is an adventure at any age and it’s highly likely you’ll find people of similar age and interest sharing – and enjoying – the trip right alongside you.”
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In fact, Intrepid reports that senior travelers who fall into the 50+ age category are among the most interested in its new active trips, which include walking and trekking tours, cycling trips and multi-activity adventures. The company designs trips that are meant to be enjoyed rather than being a constant endurance test, so what Berna calls a “general level of health and fitness” is all that’s needed to make the most of the experience.
With a century of experience showing people the world, Trafalgar is one of the tour industry’s largest and most trusted brands. And with 60% of its guests falling into the 50 to 71 age range, it’s an expert in travel tours for senior travelers.
With its mix of travel directors who oversee all the details and local specialists who bring every destination to life, Trafalgar creates senior tours that offer both novelty and comfort. And recognizing that health and safety is more of a concern now than ever, it pioneered the industry’s first wellbeing director position, which focuses entirely on ensuring suppliers and partners are following health protocols, staying up to date on COVID-19 restrictions by region and handling all health-related queries.
5. Smithsonian Journeys
If you have the time to go deep in a destination, Smithsonian Journeys might be the perfect fit. In addition to its Classic Land Journeys (which mix iconic and hidden sights) and Active Journeys (which shine an adventurous spotlight on the great outdoors), Smithsonian Journeys’ Living In programs offer something somewhat unusual for a tour provider: the chance to slow down and stay awhile.
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While not exclusively senior travel adventures, these three-week stays in Italy, France and – starting in the fall – Spain allow travelers to live like locals while also offering tour benefits like planning experts, tour managers and plenty of organized learning opportunities. And because it’s Smithsonian, educational enrichment is always front and center, allowing you to not just experience the world but to also understand it more deeply.
Guided tour specialist Backroads, which specializes in cycling, hiking and multisport vacations, knows that a love of athletic pursuits in the great outdoors is a lifelong passion for many. And to appropriately scale its offerings to different age groups, its trips range from active to easygoing, with a lot of flexibility built into the offerings that make them especially appropriate for senior travel tours.
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Of particular interest for older couples in which one partner is sportier than the other, E-bikes are included in Backroads’ trip prices so that groups with mixed abilities can ride together. Most cycling trips include two support vehicles, so that you can bike as much or as little as you want each day. And Backroads’ new Dolce Tempo trips are geared to be more easygoing but still offer plenty of fun and adventure along the way.
7. Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.)
Catering primarily to travelers 50 and older, Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.) offers travel tours for seniors that build in plenty of ways to support older adventurers. Recognizing that many of its travelers are retired, O.A.T offers longer trips. In fact, unlike many travel tour companies for seniors, the majority of O.A.T’s adventures are two weeks or longer. Many also include pre-trip and post-trip extensions for those who want to stay even longer.
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Seniors can easily match their energy level and accessibility needs with O.A.T.’s Activity Level rating system, which ranges from one for easy trips to five for strenuous journeys. And solo travelers can take advantage of the company’s free or heavily discounted single supplements on trips. O.A.T. reports that 92% of its 30,000 single spots this year are being offered without a single supplement fee.
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