Planning your trips: best travel destinations for seniors
‘Living your best life’ isn’t a cliché. The phrase describes living in a way that reflects what you value and what satisfies you. This approach to life includes setting a few goals, infusing your days with activities that make you happy and being grateful for your life. It also encourages you to interact with those who bring out your best.
Current or soon-to-be retirees may think of travel when deciding how to live their best lives. Why? Because leaving the familiar routines of your daily life opens the door to new opportunities:
- You learn about new cultures when you travel and expand your understanding of the world.
- You experience first-hand and up-close the beautiful areas of planet Earth.
- You can try delicious foods, create memories with those you love, and make new friends.
- You have the freedom to set your course and be yourself, unconstrained by deadlines or management expectations.
Travel can renew your energy and your enthusiasm for living. Your perspective may shift, too, to one that appreciates your health, your financial stability, and a life well-lived.
It’s a big, dynamic world, however, and finding the best travel destinations for seniors can be a daunting task. How do you find the places that match your interests, your energy level, and your budget? We’ve put together a few tips to help you with the planning process and a list of the best travel destinations for seniors.
Visiting senior-friendly travel destinations – how to prepare
When thoughts of traveling start bubbling up and you’re looking for some of the best travel destinations for seniors, take a few minutes to answer these five questions. You’ll be able to narrow your search and get on the road to your first (or your next) adventure!
- How much time will you commit to the trip?
- If you can stay in one place for a week or longer, a ‘slow travel’ itinerary may be right for you. You’ll avoid the stress of the ‘seven-cities-in-three days’ scheduling. You can keep your expenses a bit lower by having the flexibility to take public transportation. You’ll also receive better rates for more extended stays in hotels or vacation rentals.
- Do you only have time for a weekend getaway? You may have to book some activities in advance, but affordable trips are available in Canada and the United States.
- Who will be traveling with you?
- If you are planning to travel solo, safety considerations and common sense are paramount. You’ll need to check in with others regularly and share your itinerary, for example.
- A group trip with friends or family will require more upfront research. For instance, when planning travel tours across Europe, group consensus on all aspects of the trip are unlikely. Having a conversation about interests and expectations can help create a great trip.
- A discussion with your partner is also valuable for couples’ travel. Talk about why you want to take the trip and outline key experiences that would make it enjoyable for both of you.
- What kind of experience are you seeking?
- Longer journeys allow time for multiple experiences, but it’s useful to know if your trip will be focused on relaxation or adventure, cultural experiences, or shopping and food. A popular travel destination for retirees will likely offer all of this, and more.
- You will also want to talk about the setting of your trip. Do you want to visit cities or the countryside, a beach or the mountains, an all-inclusive resort or a series of stops on a road trip?
- If learning is an important goal for your travel, consider what you want to learn – from Spanish cooking to Mississippi River history – to guide your choice of destination.
- What season(s) do you prefer?
- Most of us enjoy milder seasons when traveling because we can pack lighter and worry less about traveling in inclement weather. If you have the flexibility to travel ‘off-season’ (during November through March), however, your travel will be more affordable and easier to schedule.
- April through mid-June or September and October are also cost-effective travel times. You may have to pack a light jacket or sweater, but the still-pleasant weather and smaller crowds may be worth the additional luggage.
- What is your budget?
- A recent survey of Canadian retirees showed an average annual spend of about $3,400 on travel. The Globe and Mail recently interviewed two retired couples who had larger travel budgets – between $8,000 and $10,000 a year. Your budget, like your travel adventures, will uniquely reflect your travel goals and your situation.
- Travel can be possible on almost every budget. To help you know how far your dollars will go, decide whether you prefer luxury or budget-friendly accommodations.
- If you are planning an international trip, check the currency exchange rate and adjust your expectations accordingly. For example, taking travel tours in Europe means budgeting for the Canadian Dollar to Euro conversion rate.
Overview of ideal travel destinations for seniors
With your rough travel plan in place, it’s now time to choose a senior friendly travel destination. Our list may have just the trip for you, or it may be a starting point you can use to customize your itinerary.
We’ll start with global options, then explore European travel for seniors, and highlight a few weekend getaway options.
Global trip ideas for seniors:
These worldwide travel destinations for retirees range from sunny relaxation to bustling urban scenes, but they are all senior-friendly.
Southern Caribbean Islands: If you are ready to escape the winter blues, a trip to one of the Southern Caribbean Islands may be the right choice for you. Aruba, Barbados, St. Lucia, and Tobago are among the more popular of this band of more than one dozen islands. A sunset cruise and a seaside dinner at Aruba’s famous Pelican Nest will deliver amazing views. Barbados’ beautiful Crane Beach features pink sand and an island culture reminiscent of its time as a British Colony. Take an aerial tram tour to enjoy St. Lucia’s breathtaking mountain and rainforest scenes. Tobago’s ‘small resort’ feel includes fantastic local cuisine and notable bird watching tours.
The Cost to Visit: Prices will vary across the islands, but a 7-day mid-range stay in Aruba averages $2,400 in Canadian dollars per person. All inclusive resorts cost around $4,500 per person. If you choose to cruise the region, you can expect to pay about $1,700 Canadian per person for a week-long trip.
Best Time to Travel: For fewer crowds, book your trip between mid-April and early October. Of course, make sure to check the weather forecast before you go!
Hawaiian Islands: Each of the 8 islands in this Pacific Ocean chain has unique characteristics, and 6 are available to tourists for a memorable vacation. Furthest north is Kauai, known for green scenery and outdoor activities. Oahu is the busiest island, home to tourist destinations like Pearl Harbor and Waikiki Beach. Maui’s famous red, white, and black sand beaches were created by the island’s dormant volcano, a favorite spot for adventure-seekers. Hawaii, the Big Island, offers the best overview of this U.S. state’s history, beautiful waterfalls, and the area’s only active volcano. Molokai and Lanai are more rustic and rugged. They require more effort to access but may be worth it for adventure seekers.
The Cost to Visit: Some islands are less expensive to reach (like Maui), but in general, you can expect to pay about $5,000 Canadian per person for a one-week stay. A 7-day cruise to the islands will cost about $2,500 Canadian, excluding airfare to Hawaii.
Best Time to Travel: April-May and September-October are the least expensive months to travel to Hawaii. Flight deals are most attractive in January and February as the rainy season winds down.
Tulum, Mexico: Located at the south end of the Riviera Maya on the east coast of Mexico, Tulum is noted for tranquil, white sandy beaches and Mayan ruins. A quiet float trip down a subterranean river or a swim with the dolphins may be just the right rejuvenation. Head north on the Yucatán Peninsula to find all-inclusive resorts in towns like Playa del Carmen or the eco-friendly luxury of Maroma Beach.
The Cost to Visit: An average 7-day mid-range stay will be around $1,500 Canadian per person, while an all-inclusive resort package could cost as much as $4,000 each. A week-long cruise to the region could be approximately $1,700 per person.
Best Time to Travel: October through December offer favorable weather and fewer visitors. The weather is good from January through March, too, but you’ll have to deal with larger crowds.
Bangkok, Thailand: This busy urban center between the marketplaces of Chiang Mai and the beautiful countryside of Chiang Rai is one of the more affordable senior friendly travel destinations on our list. Elders are revered and respected in Thailand, too, which could make your trip a bit more enjoyable! From visiting the floating markets to watching an ocean regatta, a trip to the region will offer plenty of activities.
The Cost to Visit: About $2,600 Canadian per person will pay for a week-long trip.
Best Time to Travel: The humidity of Thailand is lowest between November and March. As a result, this is the busiest time to travel to the region. Late August through mid-October offers reasonable weather with more elbow room.
Senior travel tours in Europe
The best travel destinations for seniors are often about more than just leisure. Senior travel tours in Europe provide exposure to different cultures and cuisines with the comfort of familiar language and amenities. The rich history of each of our recommendations adds an element of adventure to your trip.
London, England: A visit to the 15th largest city in the world ensures you’ll have plenty of places to visit and people to see. From a Big Bus tour covering Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, taking high tea, and an evening at the theatre, your trip to London can be steeped in history and culture. After a London Walk along the Thames and a shopping trip to the famous Liberty of London, you’ll fit in with the locals.
The Cost to Visit: You’ll need about $2,200 Canadian per person to cover flight and hotel for a one-week stay in London.
Best Time to Travel: London is busy year-round, but the slower season runs from mid-September through November. Think about attending the BBC Prom outdoor classical music event in late September or October’s Museums at Night tour!
Barcelona, Spain: Medieval monuments in the Ciutat Vella (Old City) will take you back in time. City Tours Barcelona offers several sightseeing options. Modern transportation gives you ready access to multiple sites and museums around the city, like La Monumental, Barcelona’s bullring or the Museu de Calçat’s history of shoes.
The Cost to Visit: 7 days in Barcelona averages about $2,500 Canadian per person.
Best Time to Travel: Between April and June or September and October, the weather in Barcelona is mild with cool nights. Tourist activity picks up in May and June.
Tuscany, Italy: This region in central Italy features the country’s capital, Florence, and runs from the Apennines mountains down to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Here you’ll enjoy some of the world’s most renowned Renaissance art like Michelangelo’s David and works in the Uffizi Gallery. Food and wine tours from Le Baconnti are available for culinary exploration, or you can immerse yourself in historical areas like Pisa or the Medici Villas.
The Cost to Visit: Visiting this region for a week will cost about $3,000 Canadian per person.
Best Time to Travel: From April to May and late September through October, the weather in Tuscany is favorable to travelers. The off-season has appeal, too, with March’s Carnival or November’s Walk of the Hundred Tastes food and wine festival.
Berlin, Germany: The effects of World War II on Berlin have resulted in newer architecture and more modern amenities, particularly in hotels, compared to other European cities. A Berlin Wall walking tour, shopping along the Kurfürstendamm, and dining at one of 21 Michelin star restaurants will create lasting memories.
The Cost to Visit: A 7-day stay in Berlin averages $3,000 Canadian per person.
Best Time to Travel: The months of May, June, September, and October are considered prime times to visit Berlin. If you are open to cooler weather, October through December offer lower prices and smaller crowds.
Weekend travel destinations for retirees
Fun or relaxing weekend trips are limited only by your imagination. Whether you travel by air, rail, or car, senior friendly travel destinations for short getaways are widely available. Here are a few of our top picks of the best travel destinations for seniors.
Victoria, British Columbia: The old-world charm of this city on Vancouver Island provides a welcome respite from big-city bustle. Visit the Butterfly Gardens or take a walking tour of Victoria’s waterfront. Canada’s oldest Chinatown and Hatley Castle are nearby, too.
The Cost to Visit: $1,350 Canadian per person for a 3-day stay.
Best Time to Travel: You’ll have driest days between March and May, or September and November. Sightseeing is best in May and September.
Santa Fe, New Mexico (U.S.): New Mexico’s capital city combines the legacy of Native American ancestry with fantastic art and cuisine. Take time to visit the Palace of Governors, built in 1610 as one of the oldest U.S. buildings. Be sure to stroll along Museum Hill, home to the Georgia O’Keefe and International Folk Art museums. Or take a walking tour to learn about Santa Fe’s history while sampling local cuisine.
The Cost to Visit: A weekend visit to Santa Fe will cost about $975 Canadian per person.
Best Time to Travel: A visit between September and November will offer comfortable temperatures and smaller crowds.
Williamsburg, Virginia (U.S.): This city played a significant role in the early days of the United States. A key destination is Colonial Williamsburg, a historic district and living-history museum where actors in period costume re-enact daily Colonial life. The area also includes historical Jamestowne, the first permanent English settlement in the U.S. located on Jamestown Island.
The Cost to Visit: You can enjoy a 3-day stay in Williamsburg for about $900 Canadian per person.
Best Time to Travel: Virginia is popular year-round, but non-peak months are April through early June and mid September through late October. Weather during these months is pleasant, and you’ll avoid the peak summer season when families with children visit the area.
Halifax, Nova Scotia: Seafood lovers delight in Nova Scotia’s crab, lobster and fish dishes. A walk through the Halifax Public Gardens or along the waterfront offers excellent views. Nova Scotia has more than 160 lighthouses, with one of the more famous found in Peggy’s Cove.
The Cost to Visit: A 3-day stay in Nova Scotia costs about $725 Canadian per person.
Best Time to Travel: For best weather, try May through October.
Financing your travel adventure
Retirement means you no longer work for a salary. It doesn’t mean you are withdrawing from an active and exciting lifestyle. If living your best life includes travel adventures but you don’t have the savings to match your desired destination list, the CHIP Reverse Mortgage® can help.
- The CHIP Program, for Canadians 55-years old and older, allows homeowners to access up to 55% of the value of their property without having to move or sell.
- There are no required monthly interest payments.
- Use of the funds is your decision – you can use some to travel, make home repairs, pay off debt or cover other expenses.
It’s time to live retirement your way. Call us at 1-866-522-2447 or get your free reverse mortgage estimate now or use the reverse mortgage calculator to find out how much tax-free cash you could access with the CHIP Reverse Mortgage. Soon you’ll be writing about senior-friendly travel destinations based on first-hand experience!