Travel industry worldwide is witnessing a surge in the number of senior citizens looking for holidays. Trends indicate, senior citizens- broadly defined as men and women above 60 years- are exploring newer horizons by travelling to exotic destinations, albeit with some caution.
An average senior citizen spends around US$ 11,000 per year on travel, surveys conducted in North America and Europe indicated. Younger people spend between US$ 2,000 and US$ 8,000 on travel every year, in contrast.
Senior citizens have to cope with hurdles from unexpected sources before travelling. Travel insurance for senior citizens costs a fortune. Few companies offer travel insurance for senior citizens due to inherent risks involved. But these facts have not deterred those above 60 from fulfilling their bucket list wishes. But trends worldwide indicate some interesting details.
The bucket list: Top destinations for senior citizens
Senior citizens look for certain fringe benefits when taking holidays domestically or abroad.
1: The beaten track: A large number of senior citizens prefer to travel to known, time-tested and safe destinations. Factors that decide such destinations include ease of access, amenities available, safety and security, availability of superior healthcare services and relaxed ambience.
2: New hotels, guest houses, lodging options: According to travel services providers. AirBnB reports that over a million travellers it handled in 2016 for accommodation were above 60 years.
3: Adventure and outdoors: Research indicates that 20 percent customers for companies that offer adventure and outdoor holiday packages come from the above 60 years age group. This is ample evidence that senior citizens are now more eager to fulfil their bucket list than anytime before.
4: Recalling younger days: The market for senior citizens travelling to places they visited while young is also on the surge. Travel for nostalgia constitutes about 25 percent of the senior citizen market share.
5: Spiritual retreats: With more time at hand, senior citizens look for travelling to places of religious, spiritual and historic interests. Package tours to various destinations that cover religious places, shrines and monuments are on offer.
6: Sun-n-Sand: Another favourite among senior citizens. Sun-n-Sand tourism involves travel to beaches and resorts in distant countries to escape cold and harsh winters back home.
7: Volunteer and charity tourism: With more spare time at hand, senior citizens find it rewarding to volunteer for a known charitable cause. They enrol themselves as volunteers with a charity and offer their skills such as teaching, medical expertise, sanitation, engineering and others to a community in a distant land.
8: Cruise: The safest form of travel for senior citizens. A cruise holiday includes food, lodging, visits to exotic islands and sightseeing. Cruises are generally considered safe. Visa rules for senior citizens are usually relaxed, adding to the attraction of cruising.
9: Interest and hobby tourism: Post retirement, some senior citizens eager to pursue their lifelong hobbies, visit different places of interest. They contact interest and hobby groups at the destination for participating.
10: Adult tourism: This is a kinder word for adults looking to fulfil carnal desires away from prying eyes and in the privacy of a distant country. Adult tourism is not encouraged by any country. It is invariably conducted by shady operators. Tourists under this category are susceptible to life threatening disease including Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). They are also prone to be scammed.
The fun in funding holidays for senior citizens
Senior citizens, often termed retirees, constitute a rather niche travel market. Only about 15 percent of senior citizens worldwide have access to post-retirement benefits such as pension, according to the World Bank. Financial skills play a large role for senior citizens funding their holidays.
1: Meticulous planning: Senior citizens planning holidays abroad have to plan well in advance. Calculations on how much to spend on everything from air tickets to meals and sightseeing has to be worked to the finest detail. Retirees read and refer to several resources before selecting a destination and allocating the required funds.
2: Travelling cheap: Expenses on air travel constitutes a major chunk of the budget. Senior citizens can save on travel by various methods. Some of them are explained below.
- Indirect carriers: Which fly from their city to the destination but with one or two intermediate stops? Flying indirect to foreign countries has a fringe benefit: Passengers who are forced to stay in transit for over eight hours are offered free accommodation and food by the airline to compensate for non-availability of a faster connection. This permits travellers to see another country almost free, though with some limitations.
- Offline carriers: These are airlines who do not connect your city and the destination directly. Such flights involve one or more hops and tickets come cheaper than indirect carriers. Using offline carriers also permits the flyer to limited sightseeing at the intermediate city.
- Budget carriers: Budget carriers, also known as Low Cost Carriers offer tickets that are at least 50 percent cheaper than those offered by Full Service Carriers. Budget carriers do not offer complimentary meals and drinks on board. The free baggage allowance is limited. LLCs also fly to airports that are away from the city. Ideal for senior citizens who wish to complete their disembarkation formalities quickly and stay away from the hustle-bustle.
3: Budget stay: An increasing number of websites now offer cheaper lodging options across the world. These include sharing a house with a family or living away from the business districts. Rented apartments or parts of a large house that allows cooking and relaxation also cost lower than hotels, in some cases. Looking for cheap hotel deals from reputed chains and providers lowers expenses too.
4: Tram, train and bus passes: Transport operators around the world offer discounted passes for travel on their trams, trains and buses for senior citizens. Seats for senior citizens are clearly demarcated in these vehicles. Using public transport adds to the experience of a holiday.
5: Joining organizations and groups: Inexpensive accommodation and ground travel is available to travel aficionados affiliated to various groups, clubs and organizations. These memberships are affordable and help save immensely on stay and food.
6: Holiday Savings Accounts: Available in select countries only, some travel companies have pioneered the scheme. Senior citizens can open a holiday savings account with these travel firms and deposit a fixed amount every month for one year. The savings plus the interest earned entitles them to the holiday package of their choice. Travellers have to choose the desired package and pay its costs in 12 equal instalments.
7: Working holidays: A favourite among senior citizens on tight budgets. This type of a holiday allows the retiree to work and earn in a foreign country. Earnings cover food and stay at the destination. Such work is strictly subject to visa regulations of the host country.
8: Volunteer and charity work: Usually provides free stay and food at the destination. These vacations have to be pre-arranged with charity organizations active at the destination.
Senior citizens or retirees also indulge in generational travel: Meaning, they travel in large group consisting of their children and other relatives. Heavy discounts are offered by airlines, hotels, restaurants and sightseeing operators to generational travellers, based upon number of persons in the group.