How to Take a Seniors European Tour

Three Methods:Senior Tour PlanningSenior Travel BookingEuropean Tour Tips

For many people, a trip to Europe is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With the United States' largest generation, "the baby boomers," reaching retirement age, senior travel is on the rise. In order to travel successfully as a senior, you must realize that most tour operators will not fit your needs. A one-size-fits-all tour operation is often too quickly paced, planned without rest breaks and does not allow the kind of flexibility that an older traveler needs. You will need to decide what you want to get out of your European trip, what you are able to do and what your price range is. Read more to learn how to take a Seniors European tour.

Method 1
Senior Tour Planning

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    Decide where you want to go and what you want to see. Europe is an entire continent, so take into account that 1 to 2 countries is a good goal for your first European tour, because it does not require you to take extra flights or train rides. Seniors often choose to visit ancestral countries, art capitals like Florence or Paris, or places they have read about.
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    Decide what your physical limitations are. The senior range is usually between 50 and 90, and there is often a huge difference in mobility, vision and independence during those ages. List all the things that you require, such as airport transfers to your house, a wheelchair, a walker, a slow pace, all meals provided, audio tours, airport assistance and more.
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    Decide if you want to go by yourself, or with a spouse or friend, or if you want to plan a tour and find a group of 20 to 40 people to go with you. Tour companies are set up both ways; in some cases, you must find the people and advertise the trip, and in other cases, you can simply sign up for a trip that is coming.
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    Start looking for tour companies, with your list of preferences in mind. Keep in mind that you rarely find the perfect tour, but, with a little compromise, you can find one that you are happy with. The following types of tour companies are often used by senior or elderly travelers:
    • If you want to choose an education-focused tour, then look into Exploritas, formerly called Elderhostels. This organization works with universities to provide classes, seminars, sightseeing, and expert tour guides. They do cruises as well as land-based tours.
    • AARP, once the American Association of Retired Persons, endorses Grand European Travel. If you get this magazine, or you are a member, look on for discounts off European tours. They have contracted with Grand European Travel to give discounts and create tours for seniors that are appropriately paced, have airport transfers, include first-class accommodations, most meals included, tour directors and local guides, entrance fees, first-class coaches and free gifts, such as books or passport wallets.
    • If you are looking for an all-inclusive tour, with almost everything included in the quote price, look for Grand Circle travel. Their tours focus on participants that are over 50 years old. This is a popular provider, especially for trips to Italy and for cruises.
    • If you are still very mobile and you want to have an adventure-based trip, get quotes from Eldertreks. This company designs trips that are unusual, or unlike most group travel. You can go farther afield, venturing to Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and smaller, less tourist-based countries.
    • If you want to travel with your children or grandchildren, then Grandtravel creates trips for this purpose. Unlike student travel programs that often let you take parents or grandparents along, these trips are created with the senior's pace in mind. The trip attempts to bridge the gap of interests between generations.

Method 2
Senior Travel Booking

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    Request applications from your favorite providers. Choose your tour, and see if friends or family also want to go. If others plan to come, make sure you list your rooming preference on your application; usually, there are 2 people to a room.
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    Choose a tour well in advance. Many travel companies allow you to pay in monthly installments, which can make an expensive tour much more affordable. If you are retired, and you are on a pension, try to choose a tour at least 1 year in advance.
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    Ask about additional fees. These include air fuel surcharges, tipping for tour directors or bus drivers, spending money, transportation fees, airport transfers and more. Each company has a different policy about these fees; some companies include some fees in their quote and others do not.
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    Consider additional cancellation and/or insurance companies. If there are any medical, family or other problems that could keep you from traveling on your tour, you should sign up for a cancellation policy. It will require a higher fee, but you will usually receive a refund of the base cost of your trip.
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    Send in your deposit. This will hold your space on the trip. Most companies require $500 or more to reserve your place, with part of that sum being non-refundable if you cancel.
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    Begin paying in regular installments. Check into the billing procedure and keep the customer service/billing number close at hand, in case you have questions. Ask if there are any additional fees for paying by credit card.
    • Realize that most tour companies have a final payment deadline between 45 and 90 days prior to your departure date. This is to guarantee all your services, especially airfare. You risk losing your money if you cancel after this point. It is also the reason to sign up for a tour well in advance.

Method 3
European Tour Tips

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    Apply for your passport immediately after you book your trip. Many states or countries are able to deliver a passport within 6 weeks, but it could take up to 3 months. Check to see if the countries you are visiting require a visa for citizens of your country, because some visas take even longer to apply for and receive.
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    Choose a tour company that does not schedule too many stops at places where goods are manufactured. These are often known as "commission stops," because the company or tour director receives a portion of the money from the goods sold.
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    Choose a tour that provides the amount of free time you desire. This is a personal preference, so quiz your tour contact before making a decision. They should be able to tell you if your day is completely planned out, or if you have afternoons or whole days free.
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    Look for deals for off-season travel. In Europe, this is usually between September and June of the next year. Take into account that the weather during these months can be less desirable, which can be a barrier to people with limited mobility.
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    Request extra help with airline flights, if you need it. Most tour companies book your travel, but you can ask them to list you as being disabled or needing aid. If you do not see that listed on your ticket, visit the counter on the day of travel to have it added to your boarding pass.
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    Bring plenty of extra spending money and tip money for your European vacation. Europe runs on the Euro, so check the most updated transfer equivalent. You can exchange a small amount at the bank, and then use an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) to take out the rest once you get there.
    • Using an ATM has the advantage of giving you the current day's exchange rate. A small percentage is usually charged by the bank every time you take money out. However, you should not try to take all your money out at once, in case of theft or pick-pocketing. Try to strike a good balance for taking out money every few days or every week.
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    Buy extremely comfortable travel clothes and shoes. Pack lightly, and plan to wear many of your clothes more than once. This will allow you to take a smaller, more manageable suitcase, and you will leave room for souvenirs.
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    Buy travel insurance. If the company you are traveling with does not provide a good plan, then find one yourself. It should include an emergency evacuation, medical care and anything that can help with chronic health conditions.
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  • Take well-labeled prescriptions that will last the whole duration of your trip. Large liquid containers are forbidden in carry-on luggage, unless you have a serious medical requirement.
  • Call your bank before you leave for Europe, in order to inform them of your travel plans. This will keep your credit cards or ATM cards from being put on hold. Many banks automatically put cards on hold if there are unrecorded out-of-country purchases.


  • Europe has many pick-pockets who thrive on the tourist trade. Never wear flashy jewelry, do not carry too much cash on you, and leave your passport locked in a hotel safe when possible. Keep a small bag with you that you can keep in front of you, rather than on your back. Keep track of it at all times.

Things You'll Need

  • List of requirements
  • Credit card/Check for deposit
  • Monthly payments
  • Travel insurance
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Spending money
  • Comfortable clothing
  • ATM card

Article Info

Categories: Europe