10 Places That Should Be on Your Bucket List in Your 60s
It's quite possibly the best decade to see the world.
Vacationing in your sixties differs from taking a trip in your younger years—in the best way possible. According to a recent Gallup poll, the average retirement age in the U.S. is 61. This means many travelers in this age range are able to experience destinations at their leisure without full-time jobs or young children to rush back to. This freedom opens up a new world of possibilities: Instead of planning a mere weekend getaway, travelers in their sixties can finally start exploring the places on their bucket list. To get you started, we went to the experts to find out where to travel for spectacular views, culture, and unforgettable adventures.
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Edward Lyimo, owner of Pristine Trails Adventure & Safaris says that in his experience, many U.S. travelers in their sixties haven't made it to Africa yet. "This group can typically afford to extend their time on the continent and even include travel to multiple countries in the region," he says. If you're seeking an awe-inspiring trip, he says Gorilla trekking in Rwanda and Uganda should be on top of your bucket list. "Coming close to these gentle giants that share 98 percent of our DNA is a humbling experience," says Lyimo. "A gorilla trekking experience will get you close to a habituated gorilla family. You can spend an hour watching them go about their day with juveniles frolicking in the watchful eye of several females and up to four silverbacks at the same time."
Lyimo also encourages travelers in their sixties to embark on a wildlife safari to Serengeti. "A safari visiting Serengeti national park to witness the wildebeest migration is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to not be missed," he says. "This is one of the world's largest mammal migrations. It is an annual cycle that traverses the Serengeti ecosystem in an area of 12,000 square miles." It starts in the Southern Serengeti plains during the calving season (January – February) and moves into the Northern Serengeti area, pouring into Masai Mara reserve (late July – early September). "Seeing this natural phenomenon migrating any time of the year is awesome," says Lyimo.
For active travelers in their sixties, Hilary Matson of Yugen Earthside recommends trekking through the Himalayas, where you'll find some of the greatest hiking in the world. "What active traveler hasn't dreamed of being amongst these majestic mountains?" says Matson. Yugen Earthside offers privately guided 11-day tours where hikers can discover mountain lodges, typical villages and their friendly residents, and soak in spectacular alpine views. "This trip is a relatively gentle walk with an 'average' physical rating, so it's well-suited to anybody comfortable with walking between 30 minutes and six hours per day," says Matson.
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The Galapagos is high on the list of the best places to travel internationally. "[They are] one of the most beautiful locations on earth," says Matson. The pristine nature and wildlife on the islands has been safeguarded since boats are highly regulated. Diving in the water offers travelers a chance to see whale sharks, manta rays, and more. If you stick to land you can focus on wildlife, rugged landscapes, and hiking. One of the things that make the Galapagos truly special is the Giant Sea Tortoise population, which was miraculously saved from extinction. Seeing them up close and personal is worth the trip alone.
Cuba is infused with culture, delicious food, and some of the most colorful towns on the planet. Best of all? You can visit on a budget. When planning your itinerary, Greg Buzulencia, CEO and Founder of ViaHero, a travel service that uses locals to help plan trips, says that in addition to Havana, visitors shouldn't miss the town of Vinales. "Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's also has a national park and many excursions and museums," he says. "It's also renowned for its tobacco production and handicrafts. For the traveler who wants to splurge, check out the famous La Guarida restaurant in Havana–a famous restaurant frequented by celebrities like Beyonce and Jay-Z. Although this is one of the most expensive restaurants in Havana, it is still reasonably priced by American standards. For a luxury hotel, check out Hotel Nacional in Havana, where hotel rooms go for about an average of $250 per night in high season."
Yellowstone National Park
You don't need to leave the U.S. to check something off your bucket says Melanie Musson, a travel expert with AutoInsurance.org. Yellowstone National Park is rich with natural beauty and one of the best parks to see wildlife. "The landscape, wildlife, and waterfalls are incredible, but the geothermal features take it to the next level," says Musson. "From Old Faithful to the Dragon's Mouth, there are thousands of hot springs, geysers, and fumaroles to see."
Musson says Yellowstone National Park is perfect for travelers in their sixties because it's easy to set your own pace. "If you want to hike into the backcountry to see the wonders of Yellowstone, you can. But if you want to stick to what you can see from your vehicle, you'll still see incredible sights. Also, there are accessible boardwalks through the major geyser basins. So if you want to experience the park immersively while keeping a steady footing, the boardwalks are a great option."
Sandy Lipkowitz, a luxury travel advisor, has been to over 75 countries. Her advice to people in their sixties is, "do the trips that are a bit more active now while you are still in good health. Anyone, at a late age, can sit in a café in Paris (for example) and enjoy the world passing by or take a river cruise through Europe. Climbing in and out of a Safari jeep may become a challenge later in life."
For these reasons, Lipkowitz suggests the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. "You can hike the Inca trail there if you are in shape or you can take a spectacular train ride," she says. "However, you have to get to Cusco which is at a very high altitude. That can be difficult for anyone, adding in age, [it makes it more] more difficult." This is why she says the time for a trip to a place like Machu Picchu is now.
The Rocky Mountaineer
As Lipkowitz mentioned, some trips can be more physically challenging than others. Luxury train rides on the Rocky Mountaineer are accessible to anyone, including passengers in wheelchairs. There are options for trips in both the U.S. and Canada. Both roll through the spectacular scenery of the Rocky Mountains and stop in charming small towns for overnights in hotels along the way. Gourmet meals, wine, beer, and cocktails make it the ultimate foodie experience. The Rocky Mountaineer offers several packages for short one-night journeys all the way up to epic journeys of 11 nights.
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The Northern Lights
Seeing the Northern Lights is an adventure everyone should have before they die. "One of the bucket list destinations and experiences I would highly recommend is a night in a glass igloo viewing the northern lights," Paula Prickett, travel agent and owner of Black Dog Luxury Travel says. They are magical in general, but to have them on full display all night from your personal heated and cozy glass igloo is the icing on the cake. The best place for this epic viewing is in the arctic circle of northern Norway where they can be seen 99 percent of the time."
"For travelers in their sixties, we think that Iceland is the perfect combination of safe and amazing," says Eric Newman, owner of Iceland Step by Step. "Iceland is continuously ranked as the safest country in the world, yet it's easy to get to world-class glaciers, black sand beaches, volcanos, and more."
In a week, you can see puffins up close, hike on a glacier, bathe in luxurious thermal baths, ride unique purebred Icelandic horses, and so much more. He adds that Icelanders drive on the same side of the road as we do in the US., which makes travel less stressful for anyone worried about driving in another country. Newman adds, "And if you live on the east coast, it takes less time to get to Iceland than it does to get to California!"