Senior-Friendly Travel Destinations
Last Updated: November 18, 2019
The urge to travel and see the world doesn’t disappear with age. However, the older we get, the more difficult traveling can become. Senior travelers should take care when selecting travel destinations to make sure that their trip is the kind of adventure they have planned for.
These popular travel destinations have a variety of senior-friendly considerations that you or your loved one can appreciate.
Important Considerations for Senior Travel
When looking for a senior-friendly travel destination, the following are important considerations:
- Access to amenities
- Activities geared toward seniors
- Access to a doctor, if needed
- Accessibility for seniors with limited mobility, including wheelchair access
- English-speaking destinations (especially important should you need medical advice, prescriptions, etc.)
The United States
Many areas of the United States are popular trip destinations for seniors from both the U.S. and abroad, especially among those who do not have out-of-country medical insurance. There are also seniors who are interested in getting to know other parts of the country and prefer to visit stateside senior-friendly areas such as Florida, Hawaii, Las Vegas, and Texas during the winter months. In addition to these popular senior-friendly retirement and travel destinations, consider the following:
Scottsdale is a popular desert resort community that’s been designed to accommodate seniors, making it one of the best vacations for senior citizens with limited mobility. The dry, warm climate is also home to many mountains and lakes, which attract older adults who love outdoor adventures. The majority of venues in the area are wheelchair accessible for seniors with mobility limitations. You will also find activities such as golf, shopping, and dining.
Palm Springs and the surrounding area is a popular destination for senior travelers who enjoy beautiful weather and lovely scenery.1 Seniors can enjoy the area’s world-famous luxury resorts, golf, shopping, and gourmet dining. Some seniors love the atmosphere of Palm Springs so much, they decide to make it their permanent home. Those who retire in Palm Springs are able to enjoy more than 300 days of sunshine a year.
Home to the famous Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Branson is the place to be if you enjoy country music and live theater.2 The golf courses in Branson are lush and the area has lots of accessible shopping and dining. Seniors may also enjoy visiting one of the many unique attractions in Branson, including the Titanic Museum, the Branson Scenic Railway, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, and the World’s Largest Toy Museum Complex.
There are many bus tours in Charleston, making it a great option for seniors with limited mobility. There are lots of American Revolution and Civil War landmarks to explore for those who consider themselves history buffs. In addition to all the activities and city amenities available, Kiawah Island is an excellent option for a beachfront vacation on the Eastern coast of the United States.
Halifax, Montreal, and Victoria are popular destination spots for older Americans who don’t want to travel far from home. They are also frequented by Canadian seniors who can’t get out-of-country medical insurance.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
The east coast is a popular summer destination for Canadian seniors who seek to explore their native country. It is also a favorite of American retirees who are looking for an affordable summer escape that’s quiet and offers amazing ocean views. Nova Scotia has one of the oldest aging populations in Canada, which means that the province offers the amenities, activities, and accessibility that are necessary for a senior-friendly holiday. Seniors can enjoy an adventurous tour of the historic Halifax harbor while enjoying fresh lobster and seafood and the miles of pristine beachfront.
Montreal is one of Canada’s most popular tourist spots, attracting 9 million visitors each year. Although parts of the city are hilly and have cobblestone streets, seniors with limited mobility can get to wheelchair-accessible stations throughout the city. Many of these stations offer have elevator access in lieu of stairs. A number of the city’s most popular tourist attractions are wheelchair friendly, including the following:
- Notre-Dame Basilica
- The Botanical Gardens
- The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
With excellent restaurants and lots of activities to choose from, Montreal can be a great adventure for seniors, especially those who are Canada-bound and looking for a city with a European vibe.
Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria is a great year-round destination spot for seniors, especially those who are waiting to begin an adventure on an Alaskan cruise. It is one of the most popular ports for cruise ships. In addition, Downtown Victoria is easy to walk around and is wheelchair accessible. There are many interesting local shops that offer products by First Nations artisans. Popular attractions in Victoria also include activities such as whale-watching, glass-bottom boat tours, and visiting museums or historical spots.
For those who want to take their travel adventure overseas, Europe is a great continent to explore.3 Many places in Europe have the amenities seniors need as well as options for accessible transportation. Seniors can find easy access not just too major city centers, but also to the countryside. Enjoying multiple European countries is also possible and especially easy for seniors who are on a group tour.
England, Scotland, and Ireland
Many seniors choose to stick to European countries where English is the primary language. In the case of an unfortunate event, the language barrier won’t cause an added layer of difficulty. Tour guides are available to help with communication for seniors who choose to travel on a tour. These destinations all have accessible transportation and amazing historical and cultural landmarks to explore. Traveling along the coastlines of these countries allows seniors to enjoy both city charms and a relaxed, coastal trip.
For seniors who are looking for more adventure, try one of the Greek islands. Greece has a reliable cab system, as well as infrastructure that is easily accessible for seniors. It is important to keep in mind that English isn’t spoken everywhere in Greece, so language could become a barrier for senior travelers. It is advised that seniors brush up on their Greek or get a hold of a translation book in advance. While some Greek islands are aimed at younger travelers looking to party, some islands are much less crowded and noisy. The islands of Corfu, Santorini, and Lesbos offer seniors the option to relax and enjoy a quite Mediterranean vacation. These destinations offer a relaxed, calm atmosphere, as well as waterfront accommodations, restaurants, shopping, and other senior-friendly activities.
While many ancient buildings in Europe aren’t accessible, the eternal city of Rome is an exception. Most of the attractions, hotels, and restaurants are fully wheelchair accessible. The sidewalks around the city also have wheelchair ramps and all the museums in the Vatican City are accessible as well. Like in any major city, but especially in Rome, there can be many large crowds. Seniors can benefit from hiring group tour guides in advance who can skip the lines and provide an informative travel experience.
European River Cruising
European river cruising is an activity that is very much geared toward seniors. River cruising offers a great way to see many European cities without the stresses of land travel. The amenities of these ships often are comparable to those of a luxury hotel making for very comfortable adventures. River cruises are perfect for seniors with limited mobility because they offer views of Europe’s most popular destinations from the convenience of the deck without the crowds of a larger cruise ship. On average these ship accommodate just over 100 people providing an intimate and comfortable way to tour Europe.
Traditional cruise ships are also a great way for seniors to travel, especially those looking to explore several destinations. Alaskan and Caribbean cruises are popular among seniors, and many cruise lines cater activities to older clientele. For instance, Holland America has accessible cabins, amenities, and transfers. Silversea Cruises has an on-board medical center with a doctor and nurse, plus all accommodations are suites.
Whether or not you choose one of the popular travel destinations mentioned here, it’s important that your choice is senior-friendly and accommodating to individuals with disabilities.4 Look for a destination that gives you access to the amenities you need, such as accessible mobility, public transportation, reliable medical care and no significant language barriers. Of course, you will also want to look for a place that offers plenty of fun activities for seniors to fill their itinerary with. When you ensure your travel plans are senior-friendly, you’ll be able to spend more time enjoying the adventure and less time worrying about the logistics.
What has been your favorite travel destination? Share your favorite destinations, activities, and travel considerations with us in the comments below.
1Hasselbeck, J. (2019, August 20). Why Palm Springs is the Best Place to Retire – Caliente Springs RV Resort: Greater Palm Springs, CA. Retrieved October 28, 2019, from https://www.calientesprings.com/blog/2019/8/20/why-palm-springs-is-the-best-place-to-retire.
2Branson – Things to do. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.google.com/travel/things-to-do/see-all?g2lb=2502405,2502548,4208993,4254308,4258168,4260007,4270442,4274032,4276661,4282066,4285990,4288815,4291318,4296668,4301054,4302819,4303479,4305595,4308216,4308227,4313006,4315873,4319577,4270859,4284970,4291517,4292955,4316256&hl=en&gl=us&un=1&dest_mid=/m/013h6q&dest_state_type=sattd.
3Top 8 accessible destinations in Europe. (2019, June). Retrieved October 28, 2019, from https://disabledaccessibletravel.com/accessible-destinations-europe/.
4Longmire, S. (2018, May 14). 10 Wheelchair Accessible Cities You Should Visit in 2018 • Spin the Globe. Retrieved October 28, 2019, from https://spintheglobe.net/dir/2017/11/09/wheelchair-accessible-cities-visit-2018/.
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