I had a funny experience recently while arranging the Mongolian portion of my summer tour to Mongolia and China! I was in communications with a woman to whom I sent the itinerary I wanted for the land portion of the Mongolian tour and I mentioned that we were older women, so I didn’t want to have miserable days of eight to ten hours travel. I set up each leg of the seven day trip around Mongolia to be no more than three hours at the most.
She wrote me back that she would have to charge me $10 extra dollars per day because we were “old ladies.” What? I said, “older,” not “old”! But, she refused to back off of labeling us “old” and said the extra charge was because “old ladies” need more comforts and can’t travel like the younger people.
Well, I managed to convince her that we actually weren’t that old, got the cheaper rate, and the more adventurous tour. But, I found it interesting that her perception was that women of a certain age would have no interest in experiencing staying with a nomadic famiy in a traditional ger (yurt) but would only want to stay (and need to stay) in the tourist ger camp which had western amenities and more comfort.
Now, I am not saying that comfort is a bad thing and we “old ladies” might not whine a bit in the middle of the night when we find our beds are rather hard or when we go out to pee and find there is neither an outhouse or a tree in the landscape (I suggest we go in pairs and one of us holds up a cloth to give the other lady privacy), but just because we are older, do we have to abandon adventure entirely?
It is interesting that others – especially those who are serving tourists – tend to lump older travelers into one group; senior citizens who must travel with other seniors, must travel in the highest level of comfort, must stay at high end hotels and eat “safe” continental food. While there is nothing wrong with traveling this way and many seniors do enjoy and prefer this kind of travel (or enjoy and prefer this kind of travel on some of their trips), it is a hard generalization to get rid of when a senior wants to experience something a bit different.
I read a great ebook from Amazon called “Grandma’s on the Camino” about a 72-year-old woman who walked the entire 500 miles alone on the Camino de Santiago in Spain – the pilgrims’ walk that was featured in the movie “The Way”. I was so inspired by her! You CAN spend $7000 and go on a ten day trip which buses you from town to town along the route or you can go like she did, make friends along the way, and spend nights in the hostels with the other walkers.
Just because you are of a certain age, just because you are a senior citizen or older man or woman, doesn’t mean age has to define how you travel. Why some young people don’t like roughing it at all and some older people do! And many travlers of all ages like something in between.
Each trip should be an experience that is special for you. Do it your way and enjoy!
Four places and six weeks left to get in on the 11-day-trip to Nicaragua! $1000 for everthing except airfare!
Check out the rest of our 2016 trips! India in March, Mongolia in July, and Mexico in October!