One forgets — does one not? — that life contains more than just work. One forgets that worlds of enjoyment exist outside of the job, that great vistas of beauty and adventure await the traveler who seeks them.
(This post will contain no scolding that the traveler should seek them but believe us it could. We are in just the mood!)
Fortunately, that seeking has been mostly done by the internet, on behalf of our large and ever-growing cohort of older adults wanting a challenge. Following is a list of five travel businesses dealing specifically or almost specifically with older adults who wish to put meaning into their perambulations. Several offer trips for adults and their grown children, adults and grandchildren together, as well as solo travelers. Think: guided architectural tours and botanical hikes. Don’t think: boozy bacchanals and passing out on a pool table.
Based in the United Kingdom ElderTreks has run trips specifically “for travelers 50 plus” since 1987, with durations of five days to three weeks and more, as far afield as Havana and the Silk Road. They claim to be the world’s first adventure travel company designed exclusively for people 50 plus and are so cool that their website lists their staff with only first names!
www.eldertreks.com. 1-800-741-7956 North America, 0808-234-1714 United Kingdom, 416-588-5000 worldwide.
If you’d like a more intellectual tone to your travel, the not-for-profit Road Scholar offers trips organized around educational themes. Begun as Elderhostel in 1975, they bill themselves as the world’s largest creator of experiential learning opportunities. They offer scholarships to lifelong learners and grants to accompanying caregivers. Trips go all over the world.
Row Adventures is credited with pioneering Family Magic rafting trips in 1988: five-day trips on Idaho’s Salmon River for rafters aged five to 85, no experience necessary. They offer a whole range of adventures for the 50 plus crowd, including canoeing on the Missouri River, cruising along the Nile, or yachting in Croatia or Turkey. You’ll need moderate physical conditioning and a sense of adventure.
Walking Adventures International
Landing at the traditional end of the spectrum, WAI emphasizes the “close to the ground” and spiritual aspect of walking, but intersperse that liberally with motor coach and other forms of transportation. A packed schedule of trips will take you on a 10- to 14-day tour to the Alps, or Egypt, or you name it. WAI plans each tour from scratch and sends two guides with every group.
Walking the World
Based in Fort Collins, CO, Walking the World fields a dazzling variety of trips and emphasizes stretching your perceived limits. Adventure “doesn’t come by riding in a bus or by waiting for life to happen,” says founder Ward Luthi. “It comes from stepping off the beaten path to places you might not go on your own. It comes from exploring the world under your own power. Active travel in the great outdoors is one of the best ways we know to bring adventure back into our daily lives.”