When you’ve been holidaying for a few years, you get to know what you like. If your first holiday was back in the middle of the twentieth century, the chances are you’ve built up quite a body of excursion experience, and you know what you want from a break.
Doesn’t hurt, though, to take a look around and see what’s new in the world of holidays for the mature traveller. There was a time when a break for an over 70-year-old was likely to be all about parking yourself somewhere quiet on a deckchair while the rest of the world paraded by.
Not now, it’s not. Now you’re just as likely to be checking out the Moorish castles of Spain and sampling a bit of jerk in the Caribbean. (Note - this is food. Not a dance. Or anything else.)
That’s not to say the quiet deckchair option isn’t there for those who yearn for a bit of peace. That’s the thing about singles holidays for the over-70s nowadays - there’s one for every kind of over-70-year-old.
So, you might be curious about what’s new, or maybe you’re newly single and are looking for some pointers on fun holiday ideas. You’ve come to the right place. Buckle up, and let’s head off!
What is a singles holiday?
Just so we’re all on the same side of the map, we’ll just define what we’re talking about. A singles holiday is any trip for the solo traveller, i.e., the holidaymaker setting off on their trip alone.
This traveller category encompasses all individuals, from the person who has been made single by life events to the maverick who just prefers their own company. Singles holidays are available that cater to a wide variety of solo needs.
So, it’s possible to find the kind of trips that specialise in offering a social experience for people on their own but wanting to make friends, as well as solo holidays that support lone explorers who are happy to stay that way.
The benefits of a singles holiday for over 70s
Most of us love a break. But it can sometimes be tricky to make time in a schedule. Thankfully, most of us in our 70s and over don’t have to worry about booking annual leave. However, the situation can be made trickier if you’re trying to coordinate with somebody else.
Consequently, sometimes it’s lovely not to have to wait for somebody else’s timetable to clear. Just to spot something you want to do and jolly well go and do it. Especially when you know that the holiday is designed with the single traveller in mind, so there is no assumption that you’re in a couple and, often, no single supplement.
That’s the magic of singles holidays. It’s all about you. After all this time, you’ve earned the right to do what you want to do. And there are options available for over 70-year-olds with a range of mobility levels, including door-to-door holiday experiences for maximum accessibility.
Types of single holidays for over 70s
Let’s look at some ideas currently floating travellers’ boats (or flying their planes).
Special interest holidays
You may be thinking to yourself that you want to get out there and experience new horizons. Still, you’re not necessarily looking for that Ellen MacArthur or Yuri Gagarin extreme solitude type of vibe. What you’re really after is a trip you can make by yourself but which features like-minded people engaged in the same pursuits.
What are you interested in? Most over 70 your old travellers will favour slightly more relaxed activities, but that’s not to say there aren’t special interest holidays out there that will get your pulse racing (to a responsible level).
For instance, there’s nothing to stop you from going on a wildlife conservation trip, using your free time to assist the work of wildlife wardens somewhere exotic, where you get to spend your time off checking out the chimpanzees and gaping at the gorillas (note - experiences based around non-simian species are available too).
Or, if you want something a little more laid back, you might want to give a new direction to your diction by going to a country and learning its language while there.
City break holidays
Think delicious and varied cuisine. Think exciting new cultural experiences. Think hosts of new people all eager to share their ideas, music, films and lives with you. Think all this, plus amazing sightseeing as well as facilities to cope with whatever needs you may have. This is what a short break in a city can offer.
Because they’re geared up to receive a wide variety of travellers, cities can offer a universe of options that will please just about everyone, no matter their needs.
For instance, most European cities will have made sure that everything possible has been made accessible to those with mobility concerns. This kind of thing can be reassuring for the holidaymaker who might be a little nervous about travelling alone.
It’s also good to know that medical services are plentiful and conveniently accessible. Sure, a jungle trek through Costa Rica can be exhilarating and tick your Bear Grylls box, but sometimes it’s nice to know that a hospital bed is only a nippy ambulance ride away.
Not that we’re doom-mongering, but if you’ve got a condition, you’ll want to know that help can be readily available.
Some people yearn for the water but draw the line at the open sea. For these mild-mannered mariners, a river cruise is the perfect break.
Check into your own room, noting the well-appointed features, including perhaps a balcony, before taking a stroll on deck and watching the sights drift by from the comfort of a lounger. See the day off with a sumptuous repast, at perhaps - who knows? - the Captain’s table.
River cruises can be a great relaxed way to get to know an area, with local guides on hand to point out highlights along the way. They can be among the most pleasant all-inclusive holidays around, with fabulous onboard catering to please any passenger’s palate.
For some, a holiday has to have beautiful azure vistas, twinkling in the light cast by a full sun, sipping cocktails surrounded by nothing but unblemished sands. Doesn’t sound too bad at all, right?
Some great options along these lines are available for over 70s sand-seeking singletons. All the pampering you can ask for, with all the necessary amenities. Paradise.
Some destination ideas for over 70s holidaymakers
Where have you always wanted to go but never quite made it, maybe because a partner didn’t fancy it? It might be a great time now for you to finally give it a go.
The delights of Rome, Florence and Venice are often rhapsodised over and deserve the hype.
But you might yearn to explore Pompeii ruins or Tuscany's sun-kissed splendour. You could go way down south to Sicily to take in the wild majesty of Corleone country. Or you could even book a solo slot in a kitchen in Napoli and learn how to make the perfect pizza.
It’s up to you. You can have an itinerary as stuffed as a plump calzone or as simple and satisfying as a ripe, juicy olive. Salute!
One of the great things about this neck of the woods is its popularity as a tourist destination. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be fighting for a table at the local retsina place - there are enough Greek islands out there to handle a huge number of travellers - but it does mean that they’re well-used to with the needs of holidaymakers, whatever their age.
Whether it’s your umpteenth visit to Athens or your first time island-hopping, you’ll find that Greece and the Greeks are accommodating and able to furnish you with whatever you require while enjoying your break.
There is no end of activities and holiday types to try out too: you can play golf or, in the cradle of philosophy, become at one with yourself with a yoga and wellbeing course.
Long popular with over-50s and over-60s UK expats, there’s nothing to stop the over-70-year-old from enjoying all Portugal offers. Boasting a Mediterranean climate but mainly facing the Atlantic, Portugal has a character and charm that’s distinct from neighbouring Spain while sharing some aspects of the language and culture.
You can choose a holiday company that specialises in over 70s travel, or you might prefer to go with a company that is dedicated to Portugal. With the latter, you may find that some more off-piste options are included, such as a charming and fascinating trip through the Douro Valley by rail.
The verdant hills of Ireland are only a quick ferry hop away and are crying out for you to explore on a walking holiday. Plenty of over-70s travel company options will include you and your walking poles in a small group tour. Or you can get out there by yourself with a self-guided itinerary you can download onto your phone.
You can have a gentle caper through Cork or a magnificent meander through McGillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountains. Ireland offers a wealth of experiences to the over 70-year-old single traveller while offering the warm welcome Irish are so famous for. And you don’t have to learn another language!
For those who like to spread their wings a little, there’s a whole world (quite literally) of adventure out there. Thailand, for instance, has been on the young backpacker’s agenda for years now, but there’s nothing to stop the more senior traveller from haggling their way through Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market or dropping into one of the tiger sanctuaries up the country.
Fans of a good cup of tea will be enchanted by Sri Lanka’s terraced plantations covering hillsides as far as the eye can see. Meanwhile, the Bill Oddie in you will be cock-a-hoop as overhead fly the most exquisite local birds, from the Orange-Billed Babbler to the White-Bellied Drongo.
South Africa, Vietnam, Chile… the list is endless and so exciting.
The good old UK
You might be thinking that you want a trip that won’t put you too far from home. You may not enjoy the transit portion of a holiday or want to keep your carbon footprint nice and small. For those like you, the UK is a dream destination.
You don’t need to go far for a good or unusual getaway, and there are escorted tours that will show your corners of our gorgeously varied country that you never knew existed. And because you don’t need to invest in the specialist gear that you might need in a foreign country, a solo over 70s UK holiday is ideal for a last-minute trip.
Some over 70 solo travel safety tips
Make sure your travel insurance is up to date and covers bell-ringing, bog snorkelling, or whatever activity you plan on getting up to. On the subject of insurance, make sure your tour operator is ATOL-protected.
2. Have a check-up
Have a quick medical once-over before you go. If you can get a GP appointment, great. If not, do whatever home tests you can - for instance, home blood pressure kits are available.
3. Tell others
Don’t just disappear! Tell others where you’re going and, crucially, when you’re due back. Give friends and/or family details of the holiday company you’re using. And keep people posted while you’re out there. Go trad, if you want to send postcards, or go all mod cons and blog it.
Make sure you’ve packed all the drugs you need, and make a note of the local word for them should you need to get more while out there. Also, write down the local term for any allergies you have.
What are you waiting for?
There’s never been a better time for over 70s traveller holidays, with award-winning options offering destinations from Cornwall to Croatia and from relatively simple to five-star luxury. Whether you want splendid solitude or want to make new friends, the over-70 solo holidaymaker has never had it so good.
So, make the most of what’s available and get out there. You’ve got plenty of years’ experience behind you and lots of excitement in front of you. Enjoy.