By MJ Plaster
Today’s seniors have given the brushoff to “the home.” They’re too busy packing their bags for a vacation. According to The LA Times, many seniors place more importance on travel than leaving an inheritance to their children. (Say it ain’t so!) According to an AARP study, Baby Boomers will take 4–5 trips in 2015, so let’s look at some fun vacation ideas for seniors.
Rolling on the River
If you’ve taken a cruise, you likely loved it or hated it, but have you taken a cruise to Alaska or cruised down a river? These aren’t your typical sun ‘n’ fun cruises. A cruise to Alaska brings the natural beauty of the wilderness close enough to reach out and touch.
In the United States, passengers can meander down the Mississippi, Hudson and Snake Rivers. With smaller ships, you can easily strike up friendships with fellow cruisers. Can you think of a better way to catch the kaleidoscope of changing leaves as summer turns to autumn while making new friends?
If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you’ve seen the breathtaking views in the sponsored European Viking River Cruises segments at the end of each episode. I have friends who wouldn’t dream of taking a cruise on another ocean liner once they had their first taste of a river cruise—which has become an annual affair for them. They love visiting different European capitals without the hassle of arranging transportation and changing hotels every few days. They say it’s the best way to see Eastern Europe and that the scenery is the best they’ve ever seen—much of it while nursing cocktails on their private balcony.
Dance the Night Away
Are you a solo traveler who happens to be a great dancer? Because women statistically outlive men, the cruise lines need dance partners for their single women. If you’re over 40, sociable and a Fred Astaire-in-waiting, you’re ripe for the picking; the cruise lines need you. In exchange for dancing the night away and mingling by day, you can earn a free or nearly free cruise and sail away to exotic ports of call on the cruise line’s dime. While “gentlemen dancers” have been a mainstay of the cruise line’s social scene, Crystal Cruises is just beginning to employ female dance partners on their transatlantic cruises.
Want to learn one of the secrets to unlocking the mysteries of foreign lands? Food is the window into the soul of a culture. In societies that shun fast foods, shop daily and prepare food for family meals, their lives revolve around food. You can learn how to reproduce some of your destination’s classic dishes when you book a domestic or international cooking vacation. Visit US News, USA Today and CookingVacations.com to see some of the many options for bringing home the ultimate souvenir—one that lasts a lifetime—the ability to show off classic dishes from tapas to spring rolls to your family, neighbors and friends.
What Have You Learned Today?
Maybe you weren’t a Rhodes scholar, but you can be a Roads Scholar. At this stage, who’s going to ask for your transcripts? RoadScholar offers a huge selection of educational travel opportunities for seniors across the globe, and the nonprofit offers more than 300 Enrichment Grants annually to allow lifelong learners without the means to participate in one of their learning adventures.
If you’ve always wanted to learn a second language, you no longer have to settle for “menu-qualified.” Take a total immersion language vacation, and come home speaking the language—maybe not perfectly, but far better than most people could teach themselves. You’ll also learn about the culture, explore the sounds and sites, and sample the delicacies of your destination. You’ll gain the experience of living the culture rather than just popping in for a visit.
Seniors are no longer content to lounge around the pool with a piña colada in one hand and a beach book in the other—with the roar or the ocean competing with the sound of the mariachi band—for a solid week. If you’re healthy and fit, you can join a safari, swim with the dolphins, kayak, parasail, or trek the Silk Road by camel. Begin your exploration by checking out these sites that cater to seniors in search of an adventure: RowAdventures, ElderTreks and ElderTrav.
Luck Be a Lady
If you “know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,” Las Vegas is calling your name. No longer exclusively the land of the “all you can buffet,” Las Vegas is “Celebrity Chef Central,” with restaurants serving up food for the eyes as well as the taste buds. You’ll see some of the best entertainment east of Southern California. Catch headliners such as Jay Leno, Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, David Copperfield, Penn and Teller, a tribute to the Bee Gees and many more. Only 300 miles from L.A., Las Vegas is easy to reach by car, bus or air—a great destination for a group of fun-loving friends. Feeling lucky but can’t get to Las Vegas? Check out this list of casinos for one near you.