Over 80, travelling the Silk Road and loving life
“Make your long term dreams become reality. True, we could sit here and have a bigger pile of money but 40% of that will be taken by the tax man so why wait? Invest in experiences and adventures whilst you still can“. Dennis, 88.
Our population is ageing. More people are reaching a greater age than ever, and these people want to travel.
Yet if you search for ‘over eighties travel’ there’s very little available – the majority of results that your favourite search engine produces are adverts for specialist insurance and healthcare.
In spite of this, 5 per cent of our guests this year have been over eighty years old. They may be ‘old’, but they’re more than fit enough to travel to ‘adventure’ destinations such as Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia.
So, why are so few companies offering trips that suit this age group?
Honestly, we’ve no idea.
This June, octogenarian travellers Dennis and Eileen Southern enjoyed a tailor-made trip to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, spending about a week in each country. Not only did they see the fabulous Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara but they got up-close and personal with eagle-hunters in Kyrgyzstan, explored bustling bazaars and enjoyed private music and dance performances.
Dennis says he was keen to travel to “meet the challenge despite disabilities while we still can“. He feels he has proven that you can fly to a foreign land a long way from home and still revel in every part of the experience. To return home having defied age is “just so rewarding“.
When asked about how his family felt about their travel, Dennis says they’ve been incredibly supportive. He feels that having the support of your family is reassuring, plus he calls this type of holiday a ‘ski’ trip. Spending the Kids Inheritance!
We have found that with a few specific adaptations, we can help people of all ages enjoy a very satisfying travel experience. For instance, we can book cars whose drivers not only collect our guests from their home but who’ll also carry their bags and give them assistance right to the check-in desks at the departure airport. And then we can request assistance from the airlines, which commences at the check-in desks and continues right through to seats on the plane. This extra assistance continues to the final destination, taking our guests right into the arms of our local guides. As Dennis says, “there is zero stress if it’s all organised properly; no queuing at check-in, no waiting around the reclaim carousel or lugging heavy bags, its so very relaxing“.
It’s on arrival at your destination that perhaps the most useful part of any adapted travel itinerary begins. As a small company that knows its destinations inside-out, we discuss with our clients how they would like to travel and organise an itinerary that suits rather than overwhelms them.
Perhaps the most important aspect is choosing a guide who’ll be empathetic to the needs of our older clients. And not all guides are……many have a set way of looking after their charges and find it difficult to deviate from this pattern. Others like to rattle-off the information about Mosque A or Palace B at a high speed mumble that take no prisoners. Woe betide you if you’re slightly hard of hearing – you’ll just have to read it in a book instead. Well, we’ve seen and heard it often enough to know that it isn’t ‘our way’ of doing things.
With the right itinerary and the perfect guide, the holiday is off to a winning start. Then, smaller adaptations can be made. For example, we include the use of electric buggies for larger attractions (for instance, Samarkand is wonderful but quite spread-out, so we are able to provide buggies to reduce the amount of walking needed in and between the main sites) with car drivers on-hand to whisk guests to and fro. For Eileen, who has some mobility issues, the chance to see the great architecture of Samarkand without the long walk was a boon.
Some of our older guests specifically request hotels with pools as this is how they keep mobile and look so youthful (!). Equally, some guests like specific foods and try to avoid others. It’s local knowledge that really counts in these scenarios so we are often able to help right down to this level of detail.
If you’ve a desire to see the Silk Road and have been inspired by Eileen and Dennis, then we’d be happy to chat and see how we might help.