Changing demographics, greater discretionary income, and more free time are seen as underlying factors for an increase in the travel demand of seniors. As more people move into an advanced stage of their life, more seniors will still want to travel for various reasons, be it personal or for leisure. Many Elders have chronic medical conditions, so long distance travel for older adults poses special risks that other age groups do not experience. Are you too old to travel? Only you can know the right answer. Let’s explore some of the amazing benefits of travelling for senior citizens. Following certain precautions can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

  • Judith S Parnes, Sowmya Lakshmi

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) conducted a study on senior travel which indicated that seniors represented a viable target market for the travel industry. AARP got 30000 Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) and Matures (people born prior to 1946) to answer the questions. Like the globe trotting American and Europeans, travel bug has bitten Indian seniors also. Last decade saw a spike in senior Indians travelling extensively for leisure. According to a study by payment technology company VISA, India’s elderly population is likely to beat the youngsters in globe trotting by 2025. As per the the report, international trips taken by Indians aged more than 65 years is likely to touch 9,67,000 in 2025 from 3,33,000 in 2015 — an whooping increase of 193%.

Whether it is a short weekend getaway or travel for pilgrimage, or a longer trip to a foreign country, travelling can be a great way for seniors to stay active and happy. Some seniors may travel to see children and grandchildren or connect with friends, few others travel for pilgrimages and some for special interests, including hobbies, and sports. During the later part of life, many adults seek out places they have never seen before, such as a beach, a place of historical importance, or other countries. Travel for any purpose is fine; it can can contributes to the quality of life and overall health of many older adults.

We crossed paths with Ibbie Schaefer during her third visit to K.Gudi, a jungle resort managed by the Karnataka government in India. Celebrating her 82nd birthday last year, the thought of slowing down never occurred to Ibbie. This stood in contrast to my own mother, who is hesitant even to step out of her house. Ibbie had indulged in an adventurous travel schedule for the past decade, from a 10-day jungle safari in Botswana to a snorkeling tour of Bora Bora. According to Schaefer, who, back in Philadelphia, educates schoolchildren about the flora and fauna of the tropical evergreen forests of India, “The ability to travel is not a function of age; it’s determined by your physical and mental fitness.”

Ibbie Schaefer, a former biology teacher with a keen interest in ecology, relishes solo journeys. While en route to BR Hills, we extended an invitation for her to join us in our jeep, leading to a discussion once again about the elusive ‘cut-off’ age. “I don’t believe there’s a ‘typical’ number you’re searching for. The ability to travel depends on one’s desire, health, and, of course, the financial means to cover tickets and accommodations,” she clarified. “You asked about why not opting for guided tours? While they may be ideal for aging travellers, I’m a seasoned explorer. Throughout my life, I’ve steered clear of organised trips. Wherever I wish to go, I conduct thorough research, devise my own itinerary, and make my own arrangements.”

Luckily, we’re in a period when people are aging more gracefully and continue to enjoy good health longer than it did a generation or so ago. Between better health care in our lifetime and improved diet, we’re setting new milestones for aging.

While we were in Pokhra, Nepal, we met two Japanese ladies, Ichiko and Michiko, at the fish tail hotel. We couldn’t believe our eyes as these ladies are again close to 90’s, but they have the energy levels of 17 year olds. “ I’m 84 and she’s 87. We have been to Madagascar, Fiji Islands, Indonesia, Sikkim, and have plans for Italy and Bhutan in the next year.” the youngest among them, Ichiko revealed. “We’re a combo of luck in our genetics and careful to have good health that’s common to our age people”, Michiko added.

The life expectancy of Japanese women (87.1 years) is significantly higher (2.4 years) than that of Canadian women (84.7 years). This globe trotting trend by Japanese elders are confirmed by a survey conducted by Sony Life Insurance, targeting around 1,000 people nationwide aged 60 to 79, travel came top in a ranking of what they enjoy. These seniors are loaded, having been saving money for years, seniors today have the flexibility and freedom to do what they, and when they want. In a recent poll of ‘senior leisure time’ activities by The Universal Tourism center, an overwhelming 96.3% responded, “I want to go on a trip!” The trend enforced by Michiko and Ichiko.

When it comes to leisure, present day seniors represent a more diversified cohort, than the previous generations. They are more agile and active, have more enthusiasm and passion, moreover, are at a stage in life where they are free from the family and career restrictions that controlled their leisure activities in their 40s and 50s. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that Japanese seniors like to travel. Let’s take a closer look at the silver travel market.

No doubt today’s seniors are healthier, wealthier, and better educated; they are fun loving and are willing to explore. Furthermore, they are more active and independent and have more interests compared to older people in the past. Japanese studies which we quoted above shows that seniors place tourism high in their priorities and that they have sufficient discretionary money earmarked. Changing age structure coupled with agility in advanced age and the willingness to spend are seen as essential factors for an increase in the travel demand of silver segment. As more and more people move into an advanced stage of their life, more people of this group will still want to travel.

We encountered John Tanner, a retired pharmacist from Baltimore, at the Kabini Tiger Reserve. At 81, Tanner embarked on solo travel in 2008, right after retiring. Opting for solo journeys because his wife prefers more relaxed beach and sightseeing holidays, Tanner found himself drawn to adventurous destinations, prompting him to go solo.

Speaking about his travel experiences, Tanner shared, “I am 81 now. Due to Covid, I was homebound for three years. Before that, I regularly traveled within the US and internationally. When the pandemic hit, I was all set to fly to the Panna Tiger Reserve to photograph wild tigers, but it didn’t materialize. So, this time, I have a few days here and a few days in Panna. Africa and India have been my primary travel destinations, mostly to observe and photograph wildlife. I’m a regular visitor to Panna because spotting tigers there is relatively easy. I can vouch for Panna if you haven’t been there.” John appears to be the unofficial ambassador for Panna.

Why opt for solo travel? “I believe people like me prefer not to feel overly rushed. I appreciate experiencing something thoroughly. For instance, when I joined you in your jeep, you took me to a village where silkworms are reared. I observed how cows are kept in their houses and witnessed the process of making cow dung cakes for fuel. Fortunately, I got to attend the village festival and interact with a few village women. Such a village visit was never part of my planned itinerary. The idea is to properly immerse myself in an experience and have free time to explore. Hence, I lean towards longer solo itineraries,” explained Ibbie, clarifying the rationale behind her solo adventures.

These colourful people are all foreigners, but what about Senior Indians. For most Indians, domestic travel destinations are definitely for pilgrimage or to visit relatives. Though we have exotic locations crisscrossing the country and endowed with beautiful nature everywhere, seniors don’t explore much. We have not come across any solo traveler and we assume Indians prefer to travel in groups.

At the same time, we Indians have a penchant for foreign travel. In the beginning of the article, the study by VISA is mentioned. Those who have children living abroad are the ones who travel frequently to see children and grandchildren. The growing income level among the Indian middle class is creating a new “travelling class”. That combined with the preference for outbound travel of Indians above 65 years and increased connectivity is changing the outbound travel landscape.

Those who overlook destinations like Puri, Konark or Hampi often opt for leisure trips to Europe or the US, often combining these journeys with visits to family abroad. Present-day senior travellers, focusing more on comfort and health than saving money, can afford more extensive trips. The travel patterns of individuals like Padmaja or Jagannathan may differ from those of Ibbie and John. Sangeetha Nadig, working for a leisure travel company, noted, “We’ve observed senior citizens traveling in groups with people of similar age or with their families. We understand their unique needs, and logistically, we arrange comfortable transportation, consider individual dietary requirements, and avoid cramming their itineraries, ensuring sufficient rest periods.” She also emphasised the collection of medical history beforehand as a precautionary measure.

Unlike youngsters, older people do indeed have one or two chronic medical issues and some limitations due to the aging process. This doesn’t mean they are incapacitated and most of the time these chronic conditions are not a contraindication to travel. We understand that travelling can be daunting, especially as you get older, but fear not! Since much health advice for older travellers is unnecessarily pessimistic, we like to clear up the air.

As we told earlier, chronic illnesses are expected as part of aging process. These chronic conditions should not be an impediment for your travel. Therefore, much of the health advice for the elderly deals with modifying routine with such conditions, a task many older people do well. Today, seniors travel the world and swim, hike, climb, sail, and ski with all kinds of medical conditions. So sit back, relax, and read through the following travelling tips for Senior Citizens.

Get in shape

A certain amount of exercising is beneficial to everyone regardless of age or state of health. Continuous travel means prolonged sitting, carrying luggage, lifting of luggage to compartments, standing in queue. A physically fit person can easily cope with such vagaries of travel. Exercise improves flexibility, strength, and endurance, increases the capacity of the cardio-pulmonary system, and reduces the chances of injury. Immunisation
As you get older, we recommend vaccinations, also known as shots or immunisations, to help prevent certain illnesses. Consult a doctor about which vaccines you need. The most important vaccines seniors discuss with their doctors include flu vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine to prevent pneumonia, shingles vaccine, and a tetanus-diptheria-pertussis vaccine.


Elders use a mix of over the counter drugs and prescription drugs on a regular basis. Aging and accompanying diseases causes important physiologic changes in how the body absorbs, distributes, metabolises, and excretes these substances, resulting in changes in effects and durations of action. Travel adds additional variables, additional medications; environmental changes such as altitude, heat and cold. Having sufficient quantity of medication readily accessible, having all your documents and prescriptions organised in one place, and being open about your needs with your fellow travellers is a must to avoid mishandling.


At high altitudes, you breathe in the clean air, but it actually contains less oxygen than the air at lower levels. Transitioning to a high altitude can put a strain on people that are used to living at low altitudes. Regardless of health or age, altitude sickness can impact anyone; the effects often become more pronounced with age because of an increase in underlying chronic conditions. However, experience has shown that healthy older individuals do quite well at altitude. The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to ascend slowly. Once you are more than 2500 m above sea level, only advance 300-400 m or less per day. Be sure to take an extra day of rest and acclimatisation for every subsequent 1,000 m.

Hot climates

Aging decreases kidney filtration, sensitivity to thirst, the ability to perspire, and the ability of peripheral blood vessels to dilate. Because of this, acclimatisation to hotter climates should present few problems for older travellers. Hot weather can cause difficulty in the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. Drinking sufficient liquids to keep urine nearly colourless gives a good margin of safety; in very hot weather this may require drinking up to a two litres minimum.

Cold climates

Next extreme is, cold climate. There are a number of reasons that the very cold weather represents greater risk to those of us who are over 65. First of all, as one ages, the compensatory mechanisms for keeping warm are less robust. Age increases susceptibility to hypothermia.


Is the purported silver travel market receiving adequate attention from stakeholders? Undoubtedly, the senior travel market segment is poised to become one of the largest in history, significantly impacting the tourism industry due to its size and the growing disposable income that seniors are willing to spend on consumer industries. However, older consumers have been largely overlooked or ignored by the marketing community and governments, which have traditionally focused on younger markets. Although studies have been conducted on tourism planning, development, and various aspects of seniors’ travel experiences, we believe these efforts are insufficient, leaving the theme relatively unexplored in research.
We believe there is a deficiency in the tourism industry’s understanding of who their older customers are and what their needs entail. The lack of insight into the connection between leisure tourism and the active aging and well-being of seniors highlights the need for comprehensive research. While the current research delves into a deeper comprehension of the senior tourism segment from a market perspective, as social gerontologists, we urge social scientists to explore further the impact of leisure travel on active aging and well-being.