Bar-hopping in Berlin, coastal-cruising in Croatia, teppanyaki-tasting in Tokyo – it all sounds like the post-exam bliss of a student backpacker, doesn’t it? Well we’ve got news for all of you more experienced travellers out there; backpacking is no longer a young person’s game! Here are eight reasons why you’re never too old to roll up the rucksack and hit the road.
1. If he can, you can
From the outside, budget adventure travelling may appear to be the domain of the twenty-something’s. Just tell that to 95-year-old backpacker Keith Wright from Queensland, Australia. Keith began backpacking at the age of 85, after his wife passed away. He has since travelled every second year, mixing it with the best (and youngest) of them in budget hostels on extended trips through Europe.
Keith concedes that his legs are “a bit wonky” but doesn’t for a second consider himself too old to globetrot. In fact, he may be on to something because…
2. Travelling is good for your health
It is well known that staying active is key to staying healthy in your older years. New research also suggests another strategy for physical and mental wellbeing, and the answer is slightly more exciting than daily strolls around the block: travel!
The acclaimed Framingham Heart Study concluded that men who didn’t take a vacation for several years were more likely to have heart attacks than those who did. Women who didn’t travel for several years were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than those who did travel. So pack your bags and explore your way to good health.
3. Keeping in touch is easy
For many older adventurers, gallivanting around the globe with the nagging thought of your kids back at home takes the shine off a travel experience. But keeping in touch with loved ones has never been easier or more affordable than it is today. Costly international phone calls and postcards arriving three months after being sent are a thing of the past, and your family is often just a click of the button away.
Video chat services like Skype are free, and only require an internet connection and a device with a webcam to use. If you are hesitant about travelling with expensive devices, you will find many hostels have computers that are free to use. You can show off that tan to your friends and family at home, or better yet…
4. Take the kids with you!
Travelling with children can be a challenge, but the benefits of sharing unforgettable experiences with those that mean the most to you are immense. If a smooth international getaway with the kids sounds like a pipe dream, there are a few easy ways to keep them engaged.
For example, learning the language of your chosen destination as a family is a fun way to get the kids involved, and testing each other is an easy and valuable way to pass transit times.
Your kids will learn so much about the world through travelling, and maybe even a lot about themselves.
5. It’s getting easier
Rolling up the rucksack and heading for the sunset has never been more achievable than it is today. There is now a bottomless bank of guides, gadgets and gear specifically designed to make travelling as easy and enjoyable as possible.
If you are worried about arriving at your accommodation to find a sticky-floored dorm full of suspiciously smelling new graduates intent on polishing off their cheap vodka by midday, you can now search reviews and recommendations on websites like Trip Advisor. There are great budget options for the more refined older backpacker, so you won’t get stuck with a band of terrible teens.
Unfortunately, our policies won’t cover you if you decide the accommodation is not up to your standards and you want to move on, so doing thorough research beforehand is important.
There are now luggage options to satisfy the needs of all manner of travellers. A good quality all in one pack for active travellers is crucial, especially for those with a bit more wear and tear in the joints.
6. It’s never been safer
Government resources like New Zealand’s Safe Travel website provide up-to-date health and safety information for destinations across the world. Countries are rated on their current safety for international travellers, and ‘Do not travel’ and ‘Reconsider your need to travel’ warnings make selecting your next adventure easy.
But as political landscapes change, exciting destinations like Sri Lanka have become popular hotspots for travellers. Emerging from a period of civil unrest, Sri Lanka boasts stunning natural beauty and an awe-inspiring cultural history that is now tantalising adventurers from the world over.
If you have already purchased your policy and a ‘Do not travel’ or ‘Reconsider your need to travel’ advisory is issued before you depart New Zealand, you will not be covered for events relating to that travel advisory if you decide to travel anyway. Southern Cross Travel Insurance can only provide cover for cancellation of your journey in this scenario.
If a travel advisory is issued before you purchase your policy, there will be no cover for claims relating to that event as it will not be considered an unexpected event.
Additionally, we may not be able to organise emergency assistance to that destination should you need it, so checking these updates online when you are choosing your next destination is a must.
7. It’s more affordable
Market fluctuations, currency appreciations, depreciations and economic stagnations – it may all sound like gibberish to the average traveller, but staying abreast of economic changes can lead to some great deals.
According to Greek Tourist Enterprises Association (SETE), Athens has seen an almost 30% increase in arrivals in 2015. Economic shifts in Greece have made the already popular destination an attractive affordable option for many travellers.
The competitive airline industry also means great things for international adventurers, with discount offers and limited time promotions making flying abroad a fraction of the cost of previous decades.
8. There is so much of the world to see
The freedom of backpacking is not a freedom that should only be enjoyed by younger travellers. Those who are hesitant to jet off are likely to be those who deserve it the most, having dedicated the past years of their life checking homework, getting to weekend soccer games on time and making sure the bills are paid.
Even a few weeks of ‘you-time’ can be enough to refresh and revive, making the day-to-day at home less of a chore. So in the end, it’s a gift for all the family, right?