More and more retirees are tackling Europe. Is Europe friendly to older globetrotters? Please share any special deals, tricks, or advice.
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
stairs, stairs, stairs in Italy
There are lots of stairs in Italy. I mean lots!! Rethink your trip if you aren't up to that. Many hotels have no elevators. You do your bag up lots of stairs. Be careful what you pack!! Go light!
beaverton, ot USA 09/28/2013
Broken hip in Wales
My friend took her 84-year-old mother along on a trip to Wales a few years ago. While they were running to get out of the rain, her mother fell and broke her hip. The ambulance attendant was a very kind man who kept her mother's spirits up the whole time and visited her every day while she was in the hospital (10 days). They still keep in touch. Everyone at the hospital was friendly and professional and her mother recovered beautifully. One memory that stands out for her was that she kept trying to find the billing department to arrange for payment and no one knew where it was or seemed to care. Eventually a bill came that shocked my friend at how low the cost was. Medicare paid for it.
Philadelphia, PA USA 08/20/2013
Thanks Rick for all your great advice and help. My retired friends and I have traveled from Egypt, to Turkey, Greece, Italy etc.. The one thing that we always do before we go is walk, walk and walk some more. We have watched so many fellow Americans fall on the uneven streets and steps, ending up hurt and unable to complete their wonderful trip they planned. Basically, lift up those feet and practice stairs and looooooong walks. Your knees and feet will thank you, as well as fellow travelers!
Hamilton, Ohio USA 06/11/2013
staying at hostels
Bravo to seniors going to Europe. This is my first "self planned" trip for late summer 2013. I have visited most of USA and stay in hostels. That is my plan for this trip.
PA USA 06/10/2013
My sister and I are in our mid 60's and have been traveling to Europe for 30 years. I have heard of so many people who put off traveling 'til they retire and fall ill or their knees give out. My advise...find a way to do it NOW. My first trip, I cashed my paycheck and charged my plane. I have never been sorry. Last year my husband and I managed to take all the grown kids and grandkids. Now they are hooked. We were so happy to find Rick years ago. He made the adventure easy. But don't be afraid to venture "Beyond Rick Steves," there is a lot more to see out there.
Lees Summit, Mo USA 04/04/2013
We are in our 70's preparing for trip # 10 to Europe...because of my wife's bad knee, we will not do our usual independent tour (though relying often on Rick's Guidebooks) but start with a river cruise and then hang out in Amsterdam for our own style of travel & enjoying...be smart, listen to the good advice, don't try to do everything, sit and savor with a glass from time to time... you will love it!.
Pittsburgh, PA USA 03/01/2013
Our Grand Tour
My husband and I are planning the trip of a lifetime. Three months in Europe. He is 76 and I am 64. We have been to Europe three times in the last 12 years and have had a blast every time. We will see nine countries while we are gone.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - I USA 02/11/2013
Travel is not just for the young and strong
We've been traveling ETBD style since 2000. I've never posted here- but thought it was time I did. On our first trip, my husband was 70 and I was 56, We packed one (not two) bag, were gone 6 weeks and saw 7 counties. Never took a cab, and only made reservations in capital cities. We arrived in small towns w/o reservations and took our chances.
We've stayed in hostels, private homes, and rooms so small you had to go in the hall to change your mind. Did laundry only once at a laundromat in Rue Cler
. My husband has been incontinent since he was 55 (I know, this is delicate), and I have polio and cannot carry bags and do not walk very far.When he runs out of "supplies", he is treated with more respect and compassion at the pharmacies over there than he is at home. None of these things stopped us from the best experiences we've ever had.
We were ripped off by a cabbie in Prague, "attemped" pick pocket (they were so dissapointed) in Rome, shared sausages of undetermined origin and swapped "lies" with gypsies, and locked in a bathroom in Empoli. We would not change anything.
Now planning our 5th trip - will make it to Moscow this time -my husband will be almost 83 and I will be 69. The only difference is each trip has become a little less "sparse". We will on this trip be staying in 3-star hotels, taking 2 bags, and will spend as much for 2 weeks as we originally did 13 years ago for 6 weeks. Each trip became a little more expensive. Friends and family have made comments like - what if you had all that money that you've spent now?
I almost lost my husband and best friend last year to a serious case of Mersa, and am so glad to have had the experinces we have. We are not retired - still work full time so we can have the funds to travel. Think it's kept us young. They (our firends)don't get it
. Since this is probably our last trip, I want to thank Rick Steves, and all of you who contribute to the Graffiti Wall and the Helpline for all you've done to make our travels the best.
And hope I can encourage older folks to believe independent travel is not just for the young and strong.My only regret is that we have 7 children and we've never been able to help them "catch the vision".
Moreno Valley, CA USA 11/04/2012
Traveling to Italy
I'm considering traveling to Italy in Oct 2013 and would like to stay for about a month or so. I am not interested in spending a lot of money on accommodations - would rather use my limited funds for traveling to the various parts of Italy. Looks like I'll be traveling alone - unless there is another senior in her 60s that is interested in joining me - you'd have to be pretty adaptable and calm :-) I'd be very interested in any input from seniors that have had the opportunity to travel to Europe (my only out of USA travel has been to Ireland). Thanks for any info you care to share!
Camarillo, CA USA 10/23/2012
I use public transportation and trains when I travel. Renting a car is too much of a hassle in cities for parking and not knowing the city. Therefore, I try to get a hotel as close to the train station as possible. I do not want to carry luggage all over the city trying to find a hotel. Once settled in and no luggage, I than explore the city. I also try to get directions on the computer to the hotel even if appears close to the train station. I have found walking directions from compute sites confusing sometimes even with a map or written directions. The directions may direct you to go straight, but there may be a half of a block jog. Also street signs may not be visible or even present.
Houston, TX USA 08/23/2012
In the Spring I'll be heading off for my 7th European adventure. last Spring was my first completely solo trip and I highly recommend it! I have met a gal at the bus stop in Vienna who I visited last year. I met a gal on the train from Prague to Regensburg. She lived there so we met up for lunch the next day and a walking tour. Learn basic words in the country you visit. find a favourite coffee shop and offer to swap language lessons with a local. rent an apartment, shop at the markets and cook! Trains can be daunting but I always ask young people for help, most know English. Copy yourself on emails you send home(I always use my iPad) so you have a travel journey waiting for you when you return. Dress like the locals, smile and keep your eyes open. Take a photo of everything in your suitcase and keep a copy on your camera and email a copy to yourself. Take your eye glass prescription with you. Ask everywhere for senior discounts, you may get lucky. These are the best years of your life so keep safe and keep travelling,
Victoria, BC CAN 07/05/2012
To qualify for senior discounts in Hungary, Austria & Czech you must show proof of 65 yrs of age. In Britain it is 60 yrs of age.
bayarea, ca USA 05/27/2012
Hospital in Germany
It's good to have some insight into emergency and hospital care which I found out the hard way when my 80 yr old mom collapsed in the locker rooms of the Caracalla Spa in Baden-Baden. The attendant immediately called 112 and a team of EMS along with a notarzt (doctor) were at the scene within a few minutes. With a bit of persuasion, they let me and my son ride in ambulance to the hospital. The doctor became her attending at the hospital where she stayed for 10 days at a cash (credit card transfer in person at a local bank) cost of $3600 which was later reimbursed by her Medicare provider. Moral: get medical information ahead for your countries, check insurance to be sure there is reimbursement coverage. She received treatment and rehab for 10 days and she said it was like staying at a 5 star hotel compared to the 2 days of hospital care here a few months before. Before leaving the hospital get a letter in writing that your patient is fit to fly – our airline Delta required such a statement which I didn't have and had to call and luckily the doctor was there to verify to the attendant my mother could fly back home. They of course knew about her situation because I had called to change our plane reservations which they did with no penalty fees. I also had to ship home some of her luggage via Die Post because I alone had to take care of my mom and luggage on the train from Baden-Baden back to Frankfurt Airport. I daisy chained the wheeled baggage with a belt and of all days the elevator at the train station was broken but she was able to make it up and down stairs to the track very slowly and some kind strangers helped me carry the luggage up. I called the Bahn with broken German (no one spoke English) to request wheelchair and luggage assistance at the Frankfurt Airport Train station to the checkin then Delta took over from the counter to the gate. I paid for reserved train seats. Getting off the train I had to get her off first, then literally throw each bag to the platform while people were pressing to get into the train. I waved down the two attendants with the wheelchair and whew! we were on our way. Now traveling with my disabled husband I check out all the medical items before the trip ... we continue to have a great time and don't let age or illness stop us!
Tampa, FL USA 03/17/2012
Senior Siblings Jaunt thru SE Asia
What a 'trip'. Just traveled Thailand, Vietnam, and India for 7 WEEKS with my TWO BROTHERS & ONE SISTER (21 yo niece & 'best' friend joined us for a few weeks). Amazing experience. One of the great gift (and there were many) was that we all got to know each other more deeply as 'real people' in those 48 days than in the previous 63 years. Awesome. Highly recommended. ps: No spouses allowed!
melbourne, vic Australia 02/27/2012
My husband and I (60 and 61) just finished our third trip to Europe, my fourth. We call it the Doozie. We flew into Helsinki, from there to Tallinn, Estonia, by ferry to Stockholm, on to Norway, up to the fjords, etc., down to Denmark and we flew out of Copenhagen. We were gone for three weeks. We stayed in private room hostels or B &B's. We go light, don't rent a car, ride the trains or use trams, etc. We walked a lot and had a most wonderful trip. We used only Rick Steves guidebook. Can't wait to go again. We have a stack (I know an archaic term in this day and age), of maps 6" high! We did so much and saw so much, just can't believe we did it! Thanks for the confidence, Rick! Looking forward to our next trip.
POULSBO, WA Was USA 01/28/2012
Wheelchair-bound traveling in Austria and Slovakia
My husband and I just took his 84 year old wheelchair and walker bound mother to Salzburg, Vienna and Bratislava so she could see her "old country." We learned a lot about accessible traveling. Specific tips posted on my blog at www.kitbakke.com.
Seattle, WA USA 01/14/2012