Updated in 2021
According to ABTA, one of the fastest growing travel trends are adventure and solo holidays for the over 55s.
In their 2018 Holiday Habit report, they found that the over 55s are the most likely age group to seek adventure by travelling solo.
What kind of solo holidays are the over 55s taking?
A trip that may encompass activities ranging from a planned or guided walk through a town or the countryside, to skydiving and whitewater rafting. Popular holidays for the over 55s include anything from wildlife tours and safaris to sailing, coach trips and archaeological excursions.
Why have they become so popular?
Changes made in 2015 to the pension regulations mean those over 55 can now access their pension much earlier than they could in previous years. From a consumer survey conducted for the ABTA by Arkenford Ltd. (1) it was found that;
20% of 55-75 year olds surveyed would take cash out of their pension and 35% of these would spend it on a holiday – with a whopping 59% saying they would spend it on a ‘Holiday of a Lifetime’. This is where the adventure part comes in!
With people willing to spend between £2,000-£10,000, the possibilities seem endless… Source: ABTA
Solo holidays for the over 55s
This needn’t mean jetting off and discovering new destinations completely alone, unless you want to of course. In fact, you’ll often find that the solo travellers are indeed meeting other solo travellers as part of a specially organised trip. There are plenty of tour operators who organise such trips, with availability ever increasing due to demand.
Destinations for solo travel
This would really depend on what type of holiday you’re after. But a survey by Riviera Travel found that the number one experience that more than half the over 55s wanted was to see the Northern Lights! After that, around 36% of the people surveyed wanted a ride on Switzerland’s Glacier Express! They also asked the respondent their top 10 must travel list countries and this is what they found:
- New Zealand
Popular solo adventures also include coach trips across the country (who doesn’t love a trusty staycation) or Europe, but can also stretch further afield as part of a group if you wish.
Generally, locations that aren’t as popular with young families are usually favoured by the over 55s as there is an obvious lack of small children running about.
How expensive are these solo adventure holidays?
It’s hard to answer that question because it really does depend on the type of trip you take and how much you’re willing to spend. Obviously a coach trip or city break is going to cost considerably less than a jaunt to Canada and figures have shown the average amount the over 55s are willing to spend on these trips has actually decreased.
The proportion of over-50s spending more than £3,000 on their holidays has dropped for a second year in a row, according to new research. High spenders make up 30% of the overall market and is down from 40% last year. Source: ten Financial Planning
What adventure are they seeking?
According to a report by Post Office Travel Insurance (2), 27% of their survey respondents listed scuba diving, mountain-biking, snowboarding, jungle trekking, water-skiing, off road safaris and horse riding as their top activities, with 33% planning to incorporate one or more of these activities on their next trip. A main priority of 3 in 5 of those surveyed is to be fit and able enough to participate in any of the sporting activities – with cycling being the most popular of the sporting variety – thanks Wiggins!
What would a typical adventure holiday for over 55s include?
As we established, Europe is the most popular continent to visit for our adventure seekers, so let’s have a look at what a 21 day Adriatic Adventure might include;
Places you’ll visit: Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Italy.
Sights you’ll see: 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 9 National Parks, Roman Amphitheatre, and St Mark’s Square.
Activities you’ll do: Hike through the Slovenian Alps, Cruise along the Krka River in Croatia, explore the Krizna, Postojna and Skocjan Caves in Slovenia.
Places you’ll visit: Madang, Goroka, Tapola, Wewak and Pagwi
Sights you’ll see: Balek Wildlife Sanctuary, Mount Hagen, various “Haus Tamburan” (spirit houses) and Rouna Falls.
Activities you’ll do: Goroka coffee tour, visit the chief of the Tapola village, wooden river boating along the Sepik river with an overnight stay, and dependant on the time of year, you’ll attend a ‘singsing’ – a local cultural event
Or a visit to the South Pole?
Places you’ll visit: Chile, Union Glacier Camp in Antarctica and the South Pole.
Sights you’ll see: Both the Geographic South Pole and the Ceremonial Pole, breathtaking views of the Antarctic from the 4-5hr flight over stunning glaciers and native wildlife.
Activities you’ll do: As well as your once in a lifetime trip to the South Pole, you’ll also spend two days back at base camp to enjoy skiing, hiking, walking and learning Antarctic life skills.
With most of the meal, travel and accommodation costs included, it’s easy to see why holidays like this are becoming ever more popular. A powerful mix of excitement, discovery and freedom only perpetuate the need and want to travel further afield and try new experiences – as they say, age is nothing but a number, after all!
If this blog has ignited the spark of adventure and a trip like one of the above sounds up your street, head over to Heathrow Airport Guide’s travel page which includes planning and packing tips, as well as car hire and solo travel information all for the over 55s.