Lifestyle » Vol. 11

Travel Options ~ Get out and Go!

Ready to travel but not sure of what your options are in terms of guided trips, companionship, mode of travel, safety, cost, accommodations, even destinations that would appeal to your grandchildren as well?  The good news is that there are wonderful opportunities to travel both here and abroad using services that help you set up everything from itinerary to roommates to intergenerational activities to transportation.

By Dave Smith

Elderhostel

Generally when we hear the word “hostel,” we think of high school or college grads backpacking across Europe and seeking overnight refuge in barebones accommodations filled with bunk beds and little else.  But there is a more elegant version of the hostel experience, Elderhostel, which caters to the older traveler.

Whether you want to take a walking tour of the English countryside, hear jazz in New Orleans, or go on a sailing expedition in the San Juan Islands, your fee covers registration, accommodations, meals, classes, field trips, and limited accident insurance. The cost for a typical five-night program in the lower 48 United States is around $700; international and Alaska and Hawaii trips run higher and last longer (up to three weeks).

Elderhostel welcomes both couples and single travelers, and even offers special trips you can enjoy with your children or grandchildren. You have your choice of private rooms or doubling up, sometimes with an assigned roommate. To get more information or order a catalog, call Elderhostel’s toll-free number, 800/454-5768, Monday-Friday, 9 am to 6 pm EST, or visit http://www.elderhostel.org.

Traveling solo
“Travel may seem like a cure-all for everything, but if you’re one of the 2.6 million American men and 11 million American women who have been widowed, traveling may not be the same happy trail it is for others,” says Kelly Ferrin, a gerontologist and author of What’s Age got To Do With It.  She recommends the following groups that specialize in coordinating trips for mature singles:
·    Travel Companion Exchange, tce@.travelcompanions.com
·    The Women’s Travel Club, 800-480-4448, www.womenstravelclub.com
·    Women Traveling Together, 410-956-5250, www.women-traveling.com

Walking tours

Walking tours are becoming increasingly popular and range from one or two hour strolls to expeditions of three weeks or more. In Dublin, for example, you can take a half-day walking tour led by history graduates who will discuss the people and places behind the Irish Revolution. In Prague, there are tours of sites frequented by the former Czechoslvakia’s famous authors, including Kafka, as well as “ghost tours” of places involved in supernatural legends. Many US cities offer history-oriented walking tours as well.

If you’re in good shape and have a sturdy pair of shoes, you might want to try one of the longer walking/hiking tours; they are relaxed and allow you to experience the local culture, flavor, and history of a place and generally last a week or more. They involve small groups (up to 16 people) and are moderately paced; a typical walking day covers 5 to 12 miles. Accommodations range from hotels and country inns to guest-friendly farmhouses. The price of the tour usually includes lodging, most meals, and transport fees (moving your luggage between destinations). But whether you want a day’s walk exploring the history of Berlin or three weeks touring the Italian countryside, here are some places to get ideas:

www.gorp.com

www.sierraclub.org

www.eldertreks.com

www.elderhostel.org

www.walkingtheworld.com

www.olespain.com

www.oattravel.com (Overseas Adventure Travel ~ offers 12 to 16 day walks through several European countries)
Intergenerational trips

Taking a trip with the younger members of your family may be one of the best ways to provide memories that will last a lifetime. Here are some travel programs to consider:

Elderhostel Intergenerational Programs,

800-454-5768, www.elderhostel.org/programs/intergenerational_default.asp
Grandtravel, 800-247-7651, www.grandtrvl.com
Great Camp Sagamore, 315-354-5311, www.sagamore.org
Rascals in Paradise, 415-921-7000, www.rascalsinparadise.com

Cruises and bus tours

Some of the best vacation deals include cruises ~ and because they’re so popular, cruise lines are competing for your passage. Talk to your travel agent or call one of the companies that specialize in getting you discounted rates:

World Wide Cruises, 800-882-9000, www.wwcruises.com

Golden Age Travelers, 800-258-8880, www.gatclub.com

There are also a few companies that offer cruises with a twist:

·   Delta Queen Steamboat Tours offers Mississippi River cruises on old paddle-wheel ships.
800-434-1232, www.majesticamericaline.com
·    Saga Rose specializes in cruises for travelers over 50 and sails out of England to such destinations as Iceland, Scandinavia, Spain, the Baltic, and the Canary Islands. www.saga.co.uk/travel/cruises3
·    Elderhostel offers several courses designed to explore the waterways of the United States on all sorts of vessels, from sailboats to river barges. Browse their “Adventures Afloat” catalog on-line at www.elderhostel.org.

Thanks to Caremark Health Resources and Senior Travel:  A Resource Guide

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