Older tourists are often not targeted by travel companies, who tend to focus only on backpacking college students and couples looking for a getaway. But, travelers over 50 have begun to gain the industry's attention: AARP reports that travelers in their 50s and up now take four to five trips a year. 42% plan to take both domestic and international trips.
The report said those in this age range are able to travel more as they are gearing up or are already in retirement.
If you are looking for a last-minute holiday vacation or are already planning for next year, check out these top 10 travel destinations for travelers over 50, complied in an index by travel company Pettitts Travel.
Top places are determined by factors travelers 50 and older say are most important when choosing a destination, including historical landmarks, nature, accessibility and safety. Scores are ranked out of 40 — learn more about the index here.
10. France: 34
This country ranks high for attractions and accessibility — and between Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Versailles, the City of Love is a perfect place for older couples to visit.
9. Canada: 34
The best country in North America for travelers 50 and up earned high numbers for nature and accessibility, which is important for older travelers who may not want to stray too far from home. Make sure to visit Montreal, which combines European-style and modern architecture.
8. Portugal: 34
David Pettitt, owner of Pettitt Travel, said this country flies a bit “under the radar” for most travelers, it can be a perfect destination for older travelers looking for a quieter vacation that's safer than other parts of Europe. Portugal also scored well for history and accessibility.
“There’s great food and wine,” said Pettitt, “and it’s really accessible and easy to get around.”
7. China: 35
Though travel to China still ranks as one of the best places for older travelers to go, it has taken a hit in the past couple of years. Pettitt said recent news stories have impacted the view of China as a tourist destination.
“You see pictures of Beijing and you can’t see anything there because of smog,” he said. “That’s not a positive.”
But, Pettitt said steps have been taken, particularly with regard to wildlife and nature reserves, to improve the country’s attractions. The country ranks high for accessibility and attractions.
6. Spain: 35
Behind China and Italy, Spain has the most ranked historical sites. Some of the most well-known include the Alhambra fortress, the Roman settlement of Salamanca and the aqueducts of Segovia.
5. Croatia: 35
Pettitt said this Mediterranean country is a much better value than other places in the region, and has much to offer.
"There’s a lot of history and culture there,” said Pettitt. “It’s also in the press a lot, getting positive reports as somewhere new and different to go.”
Croatia ranks high in the nature category — make sure to check out the old town of Dubrovnik, and Plitvice Lakes National Parks.
4. Switzerland: 35
This country ranks high for history and accessibility — highlights include picturesque lakes, charming villages and of course, the stunning peaks of the Alps.
Traveling abroad can be expensive — check out this list of easy ways to save on your trip.
3. Italy: 36
This country has over 54 ranked attractions, including the Vatican and the Colosseum. Expect to see 3,000 years of art, architecture and culture on display here.
2. Germany: 37
This country, the best in Europe for travelers over 50, is filled with historical sites, including the castle of Neuschwanstein, the Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate. It also ranks for its protected parks: 38.7% of Germany is officially categorized as a protected area.
1. Japan: 38
Japan ranks number one for its historical sites, safety and accessibility. The Asian country is home to Mount Fuji — one of the most-walked mountains in the world — and has exceptionally low level of crime.
If you’re traveling out of the country, make sure to check out these tips for international travel before you go.