Some of the international destinations we might initially dismiss as being a bit too exotic for seniors, who may need a bit more comfort and convenience, can actually surprise us with unexpected accessibility! A great example of this is Bangkok, Thailand, recently featured by a number of travel publications as a premier senior-friendly destination city. Expanding on this idea of unexpected but accessible international winter travel options, consider the following places, featuring a generous mix of excitement and viability for senior Canadian travellers.
Explore the nature and culture of South Africa
The very idea of Africa seems untamed and adventurous. Just mention to your friends that you’re even considering a safari vacation and watch their eyes light up with admiration! There have long been many rugged options for exploring the grasslands of Africa. But today, South African tourism agencies have made it much more feasible for travellers of all ages to experience much of the same excitement in less physically demanding ways. In fact, many safari companies now offer customizable excursions that allow tourists to scale the activity of their safaris to their own unique comfort levels.
Winter in Canada is summer in South Africa, but it may not be the unbearable African furnace you expect. Situated comfortably on the southern tip of the continent, South Africa’s latitude offers comfortable breezes and a more temperate climate than Africa’s central jungles and northern deserts. It also provides the opportunity to create a comfortable blend between charming convenience of developed cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg, and ancient, earthy adventures in the South African grasslands.
Visit Singapore, the Jewel of Southeast Asia
If you wrote a wish list of features that make a travel destination senior-friendly, you’d probably still find that Singapore offers at least a few more that you forgot to consider. World-renowned for the historic transformation that turned this massive city-state into a real-life utopia, Singapore promises a clean, safe, exotic cityscape with a breathtaking atmosphere. From the tranquil warm waters that surround it, to the world-class cuisine, to the warmth and security of cab ride through the sparkling metropolitan avenues, the city makes an art of appearing flawless.
One of the greatest qualities of Singapore (as if the cleanliness, safety, beauty, and modern convenience weren’t enough) is the potential to experience so many different vacations, wrapped into one! It’s an impressive hub of vibrant cultures, and the thriving epicentre of all the best that Southeast Asia has to offer. The warm breezes that course over the island nearly drip with the sounds and smells of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and European influence. This spectacularly international atmosphere makes travel and communication in Singapore a breeze, since many citizens speak English fluently, and the city is built to cater to foreign visitors.
Experience Istanbul, Turkey, ancient cradle of modern society
Perched at the gateway between the eastern and western worlds, Istanbul has been voted one of the most popular tourist destination in the world, by some major travel organizations. Brimming with history, this ancient city allows for a peek at some of the roots of civilization and the noble development of humankind through a comfortable and convenient modern lens. There’s also an air of excitement and novelty accompanying a trip to Turkey, that could be lacking from some of the more commonplace travel destinations of westernized Europe.
The Hagia Sophia is one of the world’s most premier, yet underrated, travel sites; it’s an expansive, open air park that’s nearly completely flat and lined with large, smooth, flat marble tiles that make travel through it easy for people of all levels of mobility. The pavement in and around Istanbul’s fabled Grand Bazaar is smooth and the shops and restrooms are wheelchair accessible, due to a concerted effort to make Istanbul friendly to foreign tourists. The city is expansive, offering an overabundance of sites and activities, but the transportation systems and modern revitalization efforts make it all easily reachable for any traveller!
Love the idea of Istanbul, but have concerns with its level of safety for travellers? Istanbul isn’t in one of the ‘avoid all travel’ regions but make sure you purchase your travel insurance, as well as educate yourself with “How Technology Can Help Us Travel Safely” and the Government of Canada’s travel advisory page for Turkey—get you up-to-speed on any risk concerns or safety precautions.
Accessibility concerns shouldn’t prevent seniors from exploring international travel destinations
Don’t make the mistake this winter of assuming your vacation options are limited to over-travelled standbys, just because age and mobility have become considerations in your plans. Whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple, or in a group, the world still has plenty of excitement and adventure to offer, and modernization is expanding your list of choices all the time! Remember to pack your travel medical insurance, and don’t let uneven alleyways, steep staircases, or inconvenient transportation systems prevent you from enjoying a fulfilling journey. There are plenty of international experiences still waiting for you in corners of the globe that may not be nearly as daunting as they seem!