After almost a decade of planning trips for travelers to Europe, we've seen certain themes emerge, particularly for travelers over 65. The truth is, different generations travel differently. What's more, if you're a senior traveler, chances are that you've already traveled to a few European destinations and you may have a bit of that been there, done that feeling.
Do you miss the feeling you once had of seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time or being surprised by the beauty of your first sunset at the Roman Forum? How do you recapture the sense of wonder of traveling to Europe for the first time when you've already been everywhere? We've outlined some ideas for planning trips to Europe for even the most seasoned travelers.
Making Your Trip Interesting
Returning to places that you already know and cherish can still reveal enriching and immersive experiences. Look to your personality and interests to find new experiences beyond sightseeing.
In more touristed areas where English speakers among the local people are common, such as Paris or Rome, a class will give you a deeper experience of the country and possibly some new friends. In these more popular tourist cities, dance classes, art classes and, of course, cooking classes are options readily available to travelers.
If you can, stay longer than you have during past trips, perhaps by renting a vacation home and living like a local for a while. There's no better way to experience a place anew than having to adjust your day-to-day life to a different way of thinking and a different culture.
If you're looking to go a bit further afield, try Turkey or Croatia, which have in recent years become emerging vacation spots for seasoned jetsetters.
Another idea: experience European destinations through the eyes of someone traveling for the first time. Take your family on your next trip and share their excitement at the new experiences.
Travelers visit Europe for the history. So opt for hotels housed in historic buildings, from castles and palaces to country manors.
As important as picking vacation experiences that are a match for your interests is how you travel. The way in which you travel makes all of the difference in a good or bad trip.
Take your itinerary for example. While traveling can and should be exhilarating, an overly aggressive itinerary will exhaust you. There's only so much you can see and do in a day. So rather than planning for the breadth and quantity of places, seek out the quality and depth of your experience.
Plan for breaks and quiet moments during your trip, such as a picnic at Parc Buttes-Chaumont in Paris after a few hours of sightseeing.
Also, insist on getting more out of your hotel stay whether it be a quiet room away from a busy street, or a beautiful room with great views
For travelers with mobility concerns, such as climbing flights of stairs or carrying heavy luggage, you'll want to be sure you're given a room on a low floor or better, select a hotel with an elevator, something not all of the smaller hotels in Europe have. Plan to have luggage shipped from your home and delivered straight to your room through a service such as Luggage Forward rather than pulling it through airports and train stations yourself.
Also, when mobility is a concern, but visiting multiple destinations a must, a river cruise is often a good bet. River cruises take you to many cities during your trip but with the benefit of only having to unpack once.
Even a third or fourth trip to London can be filled with new experiences. To find them, seek out travel companies that specialize in planning trips for seniors. Specialists are invaluable resources as they plan trips everyday. They've seen first-hand what works best and what doesn't. Specialists also will have the scoop on the hotels and guides that provide the best service.
Also, to avoid group tours with regimented itineraries or cruises with hoards of other tourists disembarking with you at the same places, opt for a customized, private trip. You get the benefits of a tour package but with flexibility and independence. You also can get VIP treatment at hotels, because the hotel values their relationship with your specialist.
Many countries in Europe lack ubiquitous accessibility such as ramps and elevators at the tourist sights. And frankly, many areas of Europe's most popular places, such as ancient Roman sites in Rome, are impossible to reach by wheelchair. That said, groups and travel companies specializing in seniors travel can guide you to appropriate hotels.
Finally, solo travel brings up its own special challenges. Perhaps you're a single person who would love to travel, but feel uncomfortable on a cruise or in a French restaurant filled with couples. Or you cringe at the thought of paying a supplement just because you're traveling alone. A specialist can guide you to activities where you can meet people who share your interests, help you get the best value, or simply plan an enjoyable trip to escape and unwind alone.