Adventurous Travel Over 50
Safe, Thrifty Travel Options
Adventurous Travel for over 50’s
Whether you're travelling to Australia, Indonesia or London, there are known ways to do so not only on the less expensive side, but also to experience much more of the real non-tourist culture including foods, housing, religions and lifestyles.
Not that all busy tourist venues and events aren't worth seeing, many are. In this next decade the places I would choose to see would be Croatia and the “New Riviera”, Vietnam countryside, I miss the rice fields of Asia and the delicious fresh food. I love train travel and there’s an incredibly scenic route from Asis-Russia to Europe that would be amazing to travel on. Some friends recently rode the rail through Alaska and loved it. There’s really a never-ending amount of less discovered countries and places outside of the more popular spots, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see enough.
I have had the honor of staying in people’s homes all over the world, such as Switzerland, London, Aspen, Washington DC, Costa Rica, and Greece and this was before online booking or anything like that. When I did not have a phone number or address, (before cell phones) I would choose youth hostels or bed and breakfasts, especially in colder climates such as Ireland where it never stopped raining, Austria and Edinburgh, but it depends on your finances and risk profile; how much you can economize for luxury. Some of the hostels back in the 80‘s we’re so unexpectedly different. The one in Venice was an old majestic bank with a huge foyer and small bathrooms, showers and a huge kitchen had been added and bunk beds were everywhere. I had to get there by taking a water taxi and the front stairs leading into the building were partially underwater, it was its own island.
Venice is not only suffering from rising sea levels but at the same time the buildings are actually sinking, after all they were built on a sand bar. Flood gates and lifted buildings are now being employed to help save some ancient homes but most of it will be under water by the end of this century, as huge cruise ships now come right into the main canals, making life very difficult for the few surviving gondola drivers. I’m glad I got to see it back then, when the locals were not tired of tourists as they are now; gypsies and their children would be friendly and helpful when looking for directions, you could still find a cheaply priced home cooked taverna on the side streets and it was all reasonably safe.
Now with online booking options in people’s homes’ it’s really easy, although I would not always pick the cheapest option as I’ve heard horror stories. I’ve also hosted guests in my home in the USA and mostly had great experiences, meeting friendly people and sharing travel stories. Another option is pet sitting online apps or house sitting all over the world. Most of the sites you will pay fees to sign up and find openings to apply to but the stay itself is far less expensive and more adventurous than hotels.
Of course, you can never be too trusting of strange surroundings; there will always be predators looking to take advantage of the innocent looking tourists, backpackers and foreigners. Without being too paranoid and not being able to relax, always be aware. We used to have our money belts under our clothing with most identity and cards in it, while wearing a second belt either under the top layer or out with a small amount of currency and some change just in case we were pick pocketed. We also used to carry flea powder for hostels as some sleeping bags may have unwanted travelers. Another precaution was to place our backpacks with everything in it at the bottom of the sleeping bags while in them, so that any attempt at theft would be felt. Most hostels have private rooms now though so that wouldn’t be an issue. Book ahead though as they are very popular at around $50 a night for a family room.
Hitchhiking was something that was safe back in the 70’s and early 80’s; these days the best way to go in Europe is to purchase a Eurail pass; an unlimited train ticket on state railways which is most trains, certainly those between large cities and across countries. Europass.com also has advice online about accommodations, finding work and things to do all over Europe.
Another great site is Let's Go which has information on almost every country, city, town and location all over the world. Before the internet we would have to purchase and carry huge books everywhere but now you can just use your phone. Lets Go lists 10-20 places to stay, with low to high prices, restaurants, events and sights for all budgets. That book got me from London, San Franciso, Miami, Geneva and Bangkok to Athens and Auckland.
Everywhere has buses to travel on, it's not the most comfortable sometimes, especially the local ones as opposed to the long-distance luxury coaches. There is definitely a market for something in-between the two extremes and Europe has them. There are cheap to medium to luxury buses and trains and are easily excessively online to look at and plan your trip.
I’ve heard it’s much more difficult to pick up cash jobs like years ago but there are options. Working in hotels, online, café's or picking grapes for vineyards are some of the go to positions now. Some supply accommodations and you can arrange things like interviews online. As mentioned earlier pet and house sitting for a place to stay. I’ve worked in hotels and restaurants, bars and as a chalet host but I’m not sure I’m fit enough for those jobs anymore. A lot of Americans in Middle and South America find work in real estate, accounting, banking or retail stores and other jobs that they are experienced in at home.
Part of the trip is to plan travel destinations, getting there accommodations at least for the first night or two before you leave home or move on to the next phase. Otherwise, you may end up paying a lot more than expected for a place to stay or a meal. Of course, timetables for buses and trains are also important, an international license in case you rent a car to get around, purchased in the USA or your home country and necessary to drive in other countries.
One of the most important purchases before leaving home is travel insurance. These policies aren’t the same as health insurance at home, you have to pay for medical services upfront and then submit receipts to the firm once you’re back. Read the fine print and what is covered very carefully. I’ve always used credit card travel insurance purchased when flights were bought but not all cards offer it now.
Even with all these planning, safety, accommodations and travel things to think about, it’s so worth it to get out at least a few times in your life and experience new culture. Each decade brings a different view and as responsibilities to children and families hopefully slowdown later in life, it’s a great time to travel. Spring and fall are off shoulder seasons for plane tickets, summer is the rainy season in Asia and winter in Australia and the Great Barrier Reef is a comfortable time to be there.