The Best Things About Traveling in Your 50s and 60s

The Best Things About Traveling in Your 50s and 60s

Even More Reason to Start Traveling

I started getting serious about traveling when I was in my early 60s — before then, I had kids to raise, then college and weddings to pay for. After that it became my turn to do something for me.

USA Today reported that Dr. David Lipschitz, noted geriatrician and author, believes travel helps senior citizens live longer lives. I agree completely.

In the last 10 years I’ve been to seven continents, 15 countries and countless cities on trips lasting anywhere from 10 days to six weeks. It’s been exhilarating and eye-opening.

Along the way, I’ve been enriched, learned, met fascinating people, and done things I never thought I’d do (like eating fried rat — it tastes like salty chicken).

So get out there and explore the world in your 50s and 60s. This is the time for you to do things for yourself — plus, there are too many benefits for you to pass up:

Last-Minute Discounts

Since I’m pretty much retired — at least lucky enough to be able to work from anywhere and not tied down to a set schedule — I can pretty much pick up and go whenever.

The last-minute discounts available (of which there are plenty) make it a lot more affordable to travel, which also means more trips annually.

I also try to book trips just off the prime season when prices are better. Right now, for example, my fiancé and I are on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina enjoying a long weekend filled with golf, eating and just plain relaxing.

Since it’s “off season,” we were able to get a large two-bedroom villa that would have cost $768 for the three nights for less than $300.

We also worked a deal to play some of the area’s top-notch golf courses for $60 per person (including cart fee). Yesterday’s temperature was absolutely perfect; all I needed was for the golf ball to cooperate, which it didn’t!

Engaging With Different Cultures

When I started thinking about seeing the world in earnest, I bought the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler’s Life List and read it cover to cover. As I did, I checked the places I wanted to go. I’m still working on the list, but I have made a really good-sized dent.

For me, the best thing about traveling is learning about, and getting to know, people of different cultures.

When I was in Thailand, the group I traveled with met with a monk who explained what his life is like. I never realized until then that married men could become monks, even for short periods of time. They leave their families, live the life of a monk for months, and then return to their normal lives.

Again, in Thailand, I learned that when an elephant is born in captivity and ready to leave its mother, it is assigned to a handler, with whom it stays for life. The handler works with the elephant, teaching it — it’s an amazing bond to see between man and animal.

Experiencing History First-Hand

Traveling around the world has opened my eyes and heart to things I’d read, heard about or studied. It has brought the world of art, books, movies and history to life for me.

I’ve had the opportunity to see, up close and personal, pieces of art that I’d only seen in the pages of books. Actually seeing Rodin’s The Thinker, Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, and the Sistine Chapel — just to name a few — was breathtaking.

Traveling has also had a profound effect on my soul.

I went to Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial, in Israel. Like most other people, I’d read about the atrocities that occurred during World War II, but seeing the writings, drawings and pictures of actual people who had gone through it was another thing.

I sat there for hours mesmerized — I literally couldn’t move. When you read about lives lost it’s one thing. When those lives are brought to life in pictures and words, it’s quite another.

I had the same feeling going through the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. I had read The Diary of a Young Girl, the writings of Anne Frank, when I was young. I used to close my eyes and think about where and how she and her family lived. However, seeing it in person took those feelings to a whole new level.

What’s so important about all of the above is I’m quite sure I would never have felt what I did and learned as much as I did had I seen these things when I was younger. There’s a certain appreciation for history that comes as we get older.

There’s also a deeper feeling that comes as a result of having lived life, experienced it’s good and bad, experienced love and loss, that younger people who haven’t had these experiences can fathom.

Seniors’ Discounts

I’m quite sure that without taking advantage of seniors’ discounts, I couldn’t have taken the trips I have.

Do your research! I never book anything — trip, hotel, car, etc. — without first finding out if there’s a senior, or other, discount.

One of the best places to find what discounts are available for seniors is through The Senior List’s Travel Discount List.

Also, take advantage of travel programs designed for seniors, such as those offered through AARP Travel. They offer everything from trip planners to a questionnaire that will help you decide where to go and when.

There are so many places in the world — and here in America —I have yet to explore. At this point, I’m looking forward to when my fiancé retires next year. We intend to buy a comfortable RV, pack our golf clubs and clothes and take off.

We are going to stop when we want to, play as many courses as we can, go to museums and see the things — and meet the people — that have made this country amazing.

I can’t think of anything that will forestall “old” age more than experiencing life in new ways and making unforgettable memories along the way.