Career breaks, sabbaticals and one-year trips around the world are becoming increasingly popular. How many articles have you read this month about boomers trading their every day lives for a year on the road in Southeast Asia or another exotic location? Does independent travel fit your comfort level? For boomers who are just starting to travel internationally, my advice --take it one step at a time.
- Organized tours are a good introduction to international travel.
Wait! I saw you wrinkling up your nose at the thought of a bus trip through Europe exploring a different city each day. That was your mother’s organized tour. In today’s travel climate, tour operators are very knowledgeable about boomer preferences. You’ll find smaller groups, more options for activities and longer stays in each destination. My husband and I traveled this way through the Canadian Rockies and would do it again.
Travel tip: Smaller really is better (and more expensive) so book the smallest group tour that you can afford.
- A private tour offers flexibility and personalized service.
Hiring a car and driver is a pricey alternative that’s well worth it. When my husband and I toured Northern Italy with another boomer couple, we found a private tour operator who designed an itinerary to suit our style. Not only did we enjoy the flexibility, but also the introduction to Italian life that getting to know our driver/guide provided.
Travel tip: Start with a search on the internet (that’s how I discovered private tours in Italy and New Zealand), but check out those references before depositing your money. And, double up with another couple to save on the cost.
- Cruises give you a taste of the world.
I think of cruises as a travel buffet where you can sample lots of destinations without packing and unpacking your bags. It’s a fun way to experience a taste of a place to decide if you’d like to return for an in-depth visit. And, it’s also a way to see more exotic destinations that you may never feel comfortable exploring independently.
Travel tip: Start out booking excursions offered by the cruise ship, then progress to exploring a port on your own.
Take the journey to becoming an independent international traveler one step at time with small group tours, privately guided trips or cruises. Before long, you’ll be roaming the streets of Rome or Bangkok by yourself.
How did your independent international travels begin? Did you take it one step at a time or jump right in?