Top 10 Places to Travel for Silver and Solo Surfers
The ‘silver dollar’ is worth big bucks. Studies have shown that seniors’ spending on travel far exceeds that of millennials, while recent research by the Australian Seniors Insurance Agency discovered a fifth of over-50s have even blown some of their kids’ inheritance on globetrotting—with 85 percent of them admitting to not worrying about it! Late last year UK travel agency Pettitts released their Silver Years Travel Index that revealed the best holiday destinations for travellers aged over 50. Top of the list was Japan due to its “incredible blend of modern and traditional, futuristic cities and snow-capped mountains, ancient temples, palaces and museums”.
Best for Female Solo Travellers
Japan also came out on top in a 2018 study (cleverly called the Wander Women Index) by British tour firm, Ampersand, to find out the best places for solo women travellers in terms of safety and gender equality, along with the likes of scenery, adventure, culture, and even Instagramabilty! According to George Washington University School of Business, women actually make up a staggering nearly two-thirds of travellers, while Google searches of ‘solo female travel’ hit an all-time record of 100 million in 2017. Pinterest has noted a three-and-a-half fold increase in women pinning independent travel ideas since 2014.
Verve takes a look at some leading destinations sure to tempt a few older folk into dipping into some more of that inheritance…
This writer’s favourite Southeast Asian destination, Vietnam truly ticks all boxes, beginning with the region’s best food from street offerings to high-end eateries (prioritise pho, rolls and seafood). A gastronomical paradise and a cultural cauldron of a country where each region boasts its own unique flavour, beer and character, from the majestic north through to the rainforest-clad Central Highlands to the more chaotic south—though Saigon’s scooter-filled streets are offset by easily accessible sleepy villages of the nearby Mekong Delta. Oh, and Vietnamese coffee will blow your mind.
Cultural events such as the Chinese New Year coupled with bucket list locations like the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors makes China one of the world’s most wondrous destinations—and it’s one of the safest with super friendly people often wanting to snag a photo with you or practise their English. Beijing is especially reassuring owing to heavy security at many tourist sites and public transport hubs, and often very, very large crowds.
Like New Zealand, Japan packs a helluva varied punch for its relatively modest landmass, its more than 30 national parks home to volcanoes, whispering forests and spectacular beaches, and laced with world class hiking trails. There are Unesco World Heritage sites and temples galore (the two often overlap), along with superstar cities like Tokyo and Kyoto and lesser known locations like the city of Nara where sika deer ‘bow’ to tourists in return for treats.
Considered one of Africa’s safest nations, Botswana brims with wildlife housed within easily accessible and well-run national parks noted for their attitudes to conservation. Safari tours here are often less crowded, with plenty of luxury options and don’t miss the Unesco World Heritage Site of Tsodilo Hills, home to thousands of cave paintings sketched over the last two thousand years. Botswana also boasts some of the globe’s most spectacular sunsets.
Proudly one of South America’s safest destinations, Chileans are famed for their friendliest of welcomes. Hugging the continent’s entire southeast coastline, few countries boast such a diverse landscape, home to historic vineyards, the world’s driest desert, active—and scalable—volcanoes, and Patagonia’s iconic San Rafael Glacier. The capital city of Santiago brims with cultural offerings and the country also serves as a launchpad to the Galapagos and Easter Islands.
One of the world’s happiest nations, Panama’s feel-good vibe is backed up by—and no doubt partly due to—features like the Panama Canal; the Old Town of Panama City (Central America’s “most cosmopolitan capital”, according to Lonely Planet) replete with spectacular colonial and contemporary architecture, and the coolest of cafe cultures; and Monkey Island, at the edge of the city, where you may mix with the cheeky furry residents. The country’s coconut palm-lined Caribbean archipelago of the San Blas Islands is a tropical paradise.
Officially the world’s safest country for several years in a row according to the Global Peace Index, Iceland has long since sealed its place in the lofty pantheon of the world’s most beautiful, also. An outdoor enthusiasts Eden, it brims with volcanoes and glaciers and caves and caverns and geothermal spas. Hike it, bike it, or horse ride it, Iceland is also one of the top spots to catch a glimpse of those legendary northern lights.
Whether it be the splendour and the solitude of the Highlands or the breathtaking beauty of Edinburgh, one of Europe’s most magical—and walkable—capitals with a fairytale-like castle and thriving cultural and social scenes, Scotland has it all. Savour some whisky tours, walking tours, and the most humorous of hosts. Just make sure to wrap up warm.
France places second on that Wander Women Index thanks in part to its significant advances in closing the gender gap (catcalling here is illegal, and street harassment results in heavy, on-the-spot fines), beautiful scenery, exquisite museums and galleries, and unbeatable wining and dining. France was also named by Ampersand as Europe’s best country for travel for those aged over 50.
From galleries to iconic architecture to museums and the entire city of Barcelona, Spain bulges with many lifetimes’ worth of cultural highlights, while offering jaw-dropping tramping trails like the fabled Camino de Santiago, and spilling on to some of the best beaches in Europe. In fact, make that the world. Also, ‘manspreading’ is so seriously frowned upon in Madrid that pubic transport is awash with signs warning men of such antisocial, leg-parting behaviour.