Travelling over 50: challenging the common stereotypes

27 September 2016

When I ask women in our Sixty and Me community to share one word describing how they are ageing, they hardly ever say ‘gracefully’!

Instead, they use adverbs like ‘passionately’, ‘adventurously’, ‘dynamically’ or ‘magnificently’. In fact, here are 60 descriptive words a group of ‘grown up’ women offered to describe how they were experiencing aging

We may be getting older, but we don’t look it — and we certainly don’t feel it.

In today’s youth-obsessed culture, people expect men and women over 50 to just slow down and reflect quietly on a life well lived. Every day, we are bombarded by negative stereotypes and myths about aging , but we are rocking life and reinventing our world. 

Travel is one of the best ways we can show our independence. We love visiting new places that allow us to express our vitality, share our passion for life and demonstrate our adventurous spirit.

We are walking, climbing, diving, exploring and just having fun! Self-aware and confident, we have finally internalised the wisdom of experience. We know that it doesn’t matter what people think of how perfectly we look, or how we move our bodies or live our lives.

Yet the stereotypes continue. Here are some misconceptions that lead people to say we are too old to travel.

Myth 1 - "Older travellers dislike adventure"

You only have to look at the success of holidays like Saga's Escorted Tours to understand that many older travellers love pushing travel experiences to the limit. We invented the mindset of exploration and discovery! 

Boomers are the original rebels, trying new things and pushing boundaries. Adventure tours like the Trail across the Andes, the Australian and New Zealand Adventure or into the Arctic Circle offer incredible opportunities for proving wanderlust has no age limit!

What to expect when travelling on a tour as a solo passenger

Myth 2 - "Over 50s are forgetful and scatter brained"

I may occasionally leave my keys in the freezer or forget that my glasses are perched on my head, but boomers remember the important stuff. We have decades of information stored in our brains and know how to prioritize! 

We remember the perfect Greek taverna on Antipaxos that serves fresh calamari drizzled with locally grown olive oil. We remember the joy of drinking ouzo by a turquoise sea. 

That little shop in Ahmedabad where we know we can find exquisite handmade textiles from Bhuj stays in our memory. 

We remember the value of friendship, the importance of reaching out and trusting strangers and that painting in the Picasso museum in Lucerne which makes our heart sing.

Forget souvenirs! 7 things to bring back from every trip

Myth 3 - "People over 50 fear technology"

We are disproving this stereotype by being here right now! On the internet, using Skype, email and social media, we navigate technology like pros! 

Although not digital natives, we learn fast. We post videos on YouTube, pictures on Instagram, updates on Facebook and shop and bank online! 

Of course we still have lots to learn, but there are free sites like Techboomers, Coursera and Lynda where we can get the training and empower ourselves further. I rest my case.

The top 10 essential travel apps

Myth 4 - "Older people are tired and boring"

Travel renews faith in humanity and we see how we are all connected with the basic values of kindness and human goodness.

In my experience, older travellers are anything but tired and boring! I remember staying at a fabulous hostel in Copenhagen. I am in my 60s but shared a room with five younger women. 

I was up before them in the morning and came in at night while they were all fast asleep — so much for the stereotype that older women lack energy! Most people in their 50s have lived complex lives, with some pain, disappointment and often loss. 

We know the value of taking every opportunity to find happiness. Whether we travel alone or on an escorted tour, life is a gift to be embraced.

Boomers have never followed the rules and as they travel today, this is validated every day! At every life stage, we have challenged the rules. 

Now as we reach our 60s, we are challenging aging stereotypes too. Maybe older travellers are considered ‘over the hill’, but we prove every day that we are just picking up speed. 

Travel companies like Saga provide the adventures to fuel our passion for travel — and for life!

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.