As travel has become more comfortable, and many newly retired people have health and wealth, senior citizens are a growing but picky group of tourists. A popular theme for older tourists is nostalgia; visiting places which were important to them some decades ago, back in their youth.
|“||A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.||”|
—Attributed to John Barrymore
Ageing affects people differently. While decent physical and mental health make travel easier, severe conditions do not make travel impossible; see travellers with disabilities and travelling with a mental health condition.
As retired people have more free time than full-time workers, they are less dependent on time management, and can use some budget travel (and budget flying) tricks, such as travelling off-season, and travelling (or visiting venues) on specific days and times with lower fares.
Seniors might also prefer a prolonged stay in a low-income country, to enjoy a good living standard at a lower price than at home; see travel in developing countries.
As medical tourism can be a reason to travel, not least for elderly people, it can be combined with a journey for pleasure. Some treatment plans require a period of rehabilitation.
Immigration rules are usually more relaxed for retired people who have a proved income. While border checks against terrorism, smuggling and illegal immigration tend to single out younger travellers, seniors are not exempted from security protocols. Medication and metallic body implants can be difficult to get through security. Carry a doctor's note for those.
While old age itself does not prevent anyone from a long hike, seniors might prefer comfortable transportation methods, such as taxis, travel trailers and cruise ships. When hiking, there are often services available for transporting luggage, ready-made food on the trail and comfortable lodging. Some destinations are better on this than others, and price structure for the offerings vary.
Arriving in a new city usually feels more safe and enjoyable during daylight. Try to schedule your arrival before sunset.
Services and venues with senior discounts include public transportation, newspapers, museums, entertainment venues, eye care, online services, sport activities, vehicle rental and grocery stores. Age limit varies; while most discounts require the locally mandated retirement age (typically 60 to 67), many discounts are available from 55 or even earlier. Ticket discount classes might also include younger people in welfare programs, people with disabilities, or armed forces staff or veterans. Particularly on transport, the discounts may be restricted to those with a particular local discount card, which may either be sold or issued free to local residents (this means that detailed eligibility checks are only done once).
Some venues might be senior-only.
Travellers with a relaxed schedules can take advantage of advance booking, or off-season discounts. Leisure venues tend to be less crowded (and/or cheaper) during weekdays, outside holidays and regular tourist seasons. Supermarkets and other shops might have an early-bird discount in morning hours.
Seniors might prefer the comfort, seclusion and familiarity of owning a second home, renting a holiday villa, or staying at a resort. Some hotels, including many with a spa tradition, especially cater to an older audience.
A travel trailer can, in some cases, allow accommodation near most attractions, minimizing the need for walking.
Government healthcare might be available to foreigners within entities such as the European Union, but in the typical case an international traveller is personally responsible for their healthcare costs. Private healthcare not covered by health insurance (such as dentistry) is usually cheaper in low-income countries.