The new adventure seekers

The active senior travel movement reveals a legion of athletes, trailblazers and explorers unencumbered by age.

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The days of dismissing senior travel as nothing more than a trip to the grandkids’ house, the casino, or the golf course are over. Health-conscious, highly educated and culturally-curious, modern-day seniors can now be found embarking on exotic adventures – with an element of intense physical challenge – thanks to “active senior travel,” the explosive travelling trend they inspired.

Now accounting for over 50% of the Western world’s discretionary income, seniors (ages 50-80) cite “travel” as the number one way to spend their extra cash, giving them plenty of purchasing power to redefine “the older traveler.

And travel companies are taking note. Besides responding to their clear desire for trips of substance (50% of senior travelers surveyed said they won’t even consider a trip that’s not “a meaningful, stimulating holiday”), travel companies are also responding to the impressive physical condition this generation of seniors have maintained.

Aimed at those well-educated, fitness-focused, energetic baby boomers responsible for cultural catch-phrases like “60 is the new 40,” active senior travel provides off-the-beaten-path small group cultural immersions to those seniors with a taste for adventure and a body that can keep up. Instead of bus rides to historical landmarks or booze-cruises to the Caribbean, active senior travel trips include exciting expeditions by icebreakers to Antarctica or active hiking treks through the Himalayas..* For those seeking a tamer trip without the international price tag, there’s a great six day bike through California wine country or a six day walking tour featuring a visit to a ghost ranch as you conquer New Mexico’s Taos and Santa Fe.** With so many different difficulty levels, international and domestic destinations, and plenty of price points – deciphering your best bet for trying active senior travel quickly becomes an adventure all its own. Here are two companies we’ve deemed safe bets to consider.

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VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations
With award-winning vacations and glowing reviews, VBT is a great way to dip your toe in the world of active travel. They specialize in walking and biking tours, and their website offers a comprehensive overview of what to expect from their truly all-inclusive packages. Their prices are some of the best in the business – one reviewer writes, “VBT could honestly stand for ‘Value Bicycling Tours’…they give you that much bang for your buck.” Other perks: Guides tend to be local; there’s usually a cooking lesson and a language lesson on the trip. – and they’re got solid bikes, good directions and a strong emphasis on safety.

Elder Treks
One of the earliest 50+ active travelspecialists, Elder Treks boasts a senior-centered adventure model with trips to over 100 countries, and over 25 years of succcess. Evidence of their success is the list of clients who’ve completed over 30 trips, and an impressive repeat customer rate of 75%. President Gary Murtagh says he’s definitely seen a shift in senior travel. “When we started, 50 was old. Today, our adventurers are 60, 70 – even 80 – and they go just about anywhere we offer.” Elder Trek trips include strong elements of sustainability, wildlife conservation and charitable efforts, delivering that sense of meaning boomers long for. So, who’s ready for an adventure?

*Elder Trek trips. Visit ElderTreks.com.
**VBT tours. Learn more at VBT.com.

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