The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - TRENDS - LISA MAYOH

For­get the twi­light years be­ing for wind­ing down. Older Aus­tralians are in­creas­ingly get­ting on planes and cruise ships to see the world and tick off their bucket lists, with over 65s be­ing the fastest-grow­ing age group when it comes to travel. “It re­ally is the travel years, not the twi­light years,” Annabel Dol­phin from Hel­loworld Travel Mackay says.

Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics data shows the num­ber of peo­ple aged 65 to 74 hol­i­day­ing overseas jumped more than 80 per cent in the past five years, and while young peo­ple make up the big­gest over­all num­ber of trav­ellers, it is their par­ents and grand­par­ents who are board­ing cruise ships and in­ter­na­tional flights at grow­ing rates.

Ver­ity Noble, gen­eral man­ager of Na­tional Se­niors Travel, says older Aus­tralians are trav­el­ling more than ever – and age is just a num­ber. “There’s more of an em­pha­sis on the present and mak­ing the most of the time we’ve got, and what we are see­ing is it’s not an age, it’s a stage,” Ver­ity says. “There are a lot of 50-some­things who have health is­sues that can’t travel, but our old­est trav­eller is 96 – so travel is very much a stage.

“Cer­tainly cruis­ing is very im­por­tant, but we are also see­ing more ac­tive trav­el­ling in the last few years – peo­ple are con­scious of mak­ing the most of the time they have with their part­ner and see­ing the world.”

Annabel Dol­phin says it isn’t just the ease of travel that older ex­plor­ers want – it is also ac­tive hol­i­days. In the past 12 months, On Foot Hol­i­days walk­ing tours across Europe have in­creased 25 per cent, with tracks suit­able for all abil­i­ties.

“We’ve no­ticed that the do­mes­tic or ‘close to home’ hol­i­days are pop­u­lar for the over 65s, but we also still have very ac­tive trav­ellers do­ing the Euro­pean hol­i­days, ocean cruises or river cruises – what we find is it’s the ‘one bed and many lo­ca­tions’ that makes it eas­ier and ap­peal­ing,” Annabel says.

“For older trav­ellers, our hosted jour­neys are also mak­ing it more ac­ces­si­ble – so they are small, bou­tique group of­fer­ings which make it eas­ier to get away.

“It’s the has­sle-free, peace of mind that comes with it – and it’s the friend­ships.”

She says the com­pan­ion­ship of tick­ing off bucket-list des­ti­na­tions with friends of the same age made travel more ap­peal­ing.

“Places like Spain, Morocco or Por­tu­gal, and re­ally gen­uine au­then­tic travel ex­pe­ri­ences, are very pop­u­lar with this age group – it’s not the 20 coun­tries in 10 days style that they want, it’s sin­gle des­ti­na­tions and re­ally see­ing more than just the iconic tourist spots,” she says.

“They have fin­ished their jobs, they’ve raised their fam­i­lies and are free, so they are tick­ing off their bucket-list des­ti­na­tions and they are trav­el­ling to ev­ery con­ti­nent.

“The 60-65 age group is re­ally like the 50-55 of my par­ents’ gen­er­a­tion – they are still very fit and ac­tive. We just had a cy­cling tour of Scan­di­navia with a Baltic cruise and the bulk of those were 55-65. They had mo­torised e-bikes and we had peo­ple with all sorts of abil­i­ties want­ing an ac­tive hol­i­day.

“The travel in­dus­try is as strong as ever and there is a style of hol­i­day, a pace of hol­i­day, that suits your needs more than ever.”

Syd­ney grand­mother Josephine Drago re­cently took her fam­ily on a cruise for her mother’s 80th birthday, and found the ease of a cruise in­cred­i­bly en­tic­ing.

“You just step on board and you’re on hol­i­days – it’s just so easy, even for my 80year-old mother,” she says.

“I don’t think she could have han­dled the stress of an air­port or be­ing un­com­fort­able on a long flight – but do­ing a cruise from right here in Syd­ney was per­fect for all of us.”


The over-65s are tick­ing off bucket-list des­ti­na­tions such as the Camino de San­ti­ago in Spain.

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