Setting the pace for elderly travel

YOU have worked your whole life and now that you are retired and have some time on your hands, you want to travel. You may not be as fit or as strong as you once were. So, how should you plan your travel and what should you look out for?

Here are some tips to make your next holiday a relaxing one:


Choose a destination that is comfortable for you. While finally getting to see Machu Picchu in Peru might be a dream come true, it involves a few long flights. Are you prepared for that? Why not consider closer destinations if you don’t want to endure a long flight?

The type of holiday you want will determine the destination. Adventure, outdoors, beach, city – these can be found in all countries. Decide first what type of holiday you want, then how far you are willing to travel and what is your budget and other limitations. Then choose a suitable destination to fit your needs.

Mode of travel

Do you want to fly, take a ship, train or bus? Keep in mind how comfortable you will be and your health needs, as well as your budget. Will you need to go to the toilet a lot? Will your back be able to take the long train journey? Will your feet swell while flying?

There are of course ways to counter each of these such as flight socks for feet swelling, or taking a night train with a sleeping berth.

The choice is yours.

If you decide you want to go to a very far destination but don’t want to endure the long hours travelling, consider breaking up the travel by stopping at one or two cities along the way.


Do visit your doctor before making any bookings to find out if you are fit to travel and what precautions you will have to take, depending on which country you want to go to. For example, you might have to get a jab if you’re flying to Africa.

Visit the doctor again just before you travel. Share your fears and health issues with your doctor (if he or she doesn’t already know them) and your doctor will be happy to advise you on what sort of medication you need to take along for “just in case”. This typically will be medication for headache, pain, cold, fever and digestive issues.

Level of activity

Depending on where you go, there will be some level of activity, so adjust the destination and what you do according to your comfort level.

If you have heart problems, you will want to consult your doctor and think twice about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Know your limitations.

That is not to say that travelling to cities will be less strenuous. Some cities have a good and cheap transportation system that you won’t have to do much walking; but others might not. Generally, unless you’re just going to lie on the beach, exploring any city or town will require some walking, unless you can afford to keep taking taxis everywhere you go.


It is very important to do your research to find out about the weather, food, culture and people of the country you want to travel to. In addition, check out the places you want to visit there and how accessible they are. Maps in travel books might show you that distances are short between places you want to visit, but they don’t show you how hilly the terrain is or if there are a lot of uphill walks and steps along the way.

Do watch out for these and perhaps do a specific search or ask people who have visited that destination.


Choose a hotel that meets your expectations. Some might be too small for your liking or not even have an attached bathroom. If you are travelling to a cold country, enquire if there are heaters. Also find out if there is a lift as some of the smaller hotels will require you to take the stairs. These days, Wifi is also very important. If you need to constantly check the news back home or want to keep in touch with loved ones daily, then get a hotel with free Wifi in the room (some hotels only offer free Wifi in the common areas). It is best to get a hotel near the train station or close enough to the transport system, and food, of course!

Group travel

If you are travelling with family and/or friends, keep in mind the dynamics of the group. You want to travel with people who are at the same pace and temperament as you. Going with people who walk too fast or are too impatient might not be what you want. You might also want to avoid the fussy friends or those who don’t share your interests (you might want to visit a museum, while your friend might want to shop).


Although you might be spending a lot of money and going quite far away, do remember to pace yourself and take a breather if possible. While you want to see everything in this new city, you also don’t want to wear yourself out. Take a day to just relax and take it easy, perhaps in the middle of that whole holiday. Use that day to go slow, perhaps do a bit of light shopping for souvenirs, and catch up on your rest.

Tour group

Travelling with a tour group won’t suit everyone and is not necessary for all destinations. For example, if you are travelling to a fairly “safe” country where you speak the language, then perhaps you can travel on your own with friends and family or your spouse. However, if you are travelling to a country where you don’t speak the language and you are not sure if it’s safe for you to walk around unaccompanied, then stick to a tour group. That said, keep in mind, tour groups try to jam in a lot of sightseeing and visits each day and you will most probably be expected to wake up pretty early, or risk missing the bus, and angering the others in the group (if they are forced to wait for you!).

Do you have experiences or travel tips you want to share? Write to us at If it is helpful and suitable for 3Age, we will publish it.

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