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Stamina and Inconveniences

Old Aug 5th, 2014, 11:36 AM
  #1  
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Stamina and Inconveniences

In our 40's we realized that we should visit those places that require stamina and tolerance for a variety of inconveniences. And highly recommend that approach to those with means and time. We have always traveled independently, as my wife likes to paint what she sees, sitting an occasional cafe and watching how people live, eating the local cuisine, and visiting cities, countryside, and small towns at our own pace according to our own interests.

But as we have gotten older we no longer like schlepping our bags and moving about as much. And when I read about tours like Untours, National Geographic, and Roads Scholar, I wonder about lost freedoms. We have never cared that we do not speak the local language or that we cannot read the signs to us that was part of the adventure. We have our own curiosity, not that of what a tour guide prescribes.

I doubt we will ever take a tour in Europe, more than a day trip, but it is looking more and more as possibility for Asia and Middle East.

I wonder what some other aging experienced travelers have experienced. Thanks.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 12:05 PM
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In my late, late 60's and in the past few years have changed my travel mode. Mostly travel independently but have done a couple of tours with National Geographic. They are expensive but have found them to be the near perfect balance between independent travel and tours. They offer a variety of activities so you can choose whether you want to kayak, walk a longer trail or sit in a pub and listen to the local musicians.

When not taking such a tour, I have just learned to cut back. One doesn't have to see/ do everything. Knowing my limitations and adhering to them has taken time, but I think I'm there. In spite of recognizing my limit ions, I find I'm in far better physical condition than those much younger. Still, I know I can't do what I could 20 years ago.

Currently on a five day Rabbies tour simply as a reprieve from having to manage everyday details during a three week tour. Have found that by mixing a short tour with a longer independent itinerary works well. Refuse to give up totally on independent travel but as long as I'm traveling solo a bit of a mix works. Also day trips work very well too and have done a number of them.

Have never traveled in the Middle East or Asia. That may be a different story entirely. However, on my current trip, I have seen a number of elderly people making a go of it. An inspiration.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 12:12 PM
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People here speak of tours as men speaks of ED. Something to be shushed up. Never admit. Embarrassed about. Hide from.

Tours are ok. Treatments are available. You'll be fine.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 12:29 PM
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"People here speak of tours as men speaks of ED. Something to be shushed up. Never admit. Embarrassed about. Hide from."

It also works as an excuse, when a headache just won't do.

Considering a tour to Cuba, as it's the only legal way for an American to get there. The trouble is finding one that gets me to Hemingway's villa but doesn't require awkward conversation with sugar cane growers. Road Scholars' Cuba Today might work.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 01:02 PM
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It was last year on a trip to Germany that my lack of stamina really became apparent to me. I don't know why it was such a surprise, since I was 77 years old, overweight and out of shape.

I had planned to see and do much more than I eventually ended up seeing and doing. I quickly realized that I just needed to cut back on activities, much as I dislike the idea.

I've also realized that jet lag affects me much more strongly than it did a few years ago. It takes me a couple of days to get over it, as I travel from the west, and there's a 9 hour time difference between my home and Europe. I just don't feel well for a couple of days after I arrive. It's not just that my circadian rhythm is off, either.

It's much worse after the trip back home. It takes 4 or 5 days before I feel up to snuff.

I'm not ready to do tours yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if that is in the offing in the next couple of years.

I keep reminding myself of a Rick Steves comment, "Assume you'll be back."
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 01:08 PM
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My husband and I are 67 and 65 and we were pleasantly surprised at our stamina on our recent trip to Italy this past May. I had never walked more than 3 miles at home but we managed 7-8 miles of walking each day and one day did 11 miles. We were exhausted at the end of the day and it took some time to recuperate from the trip when we returned home but I would rather be tired than to miss any of the wonderful places we visited. That said, I, too, have begun to wonder what we will do when we can no longer "pound the cobblestones" as we did on this trip. I have watched people on tours and wondered whether I could be happy on one. One option may be cruises with day trips at each port, or staying in a cental location and taking day trips on our own or guided tours. Only time will tell. In the meantime, we are planning an independent trip to France for Spring 2015 and plan to keep going on our own as long as our knees and general health allow. Good luck on finding a path that works well for you. I'll be following this thread to see others' suggestions.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 01:19 PM
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Hey, I first started traveling to Europe with Untours as a 20-something. If you haven't used their services, don't be misled. Their is no activity which their travelers move en masse. It is a framework of support. They have a network of apartments in small towns all over Europe. They have a luncheon orientation on day #2 to learn how to use local transit is, trains. You can meet other travelers from all
over the US. Make a friend to privately travel with on another day. Or not.
Evening before departing your apartment, a farewell dinner (included in price, you choose). That's it. They provide reams of info on local events, hikes, markets. You choose. They provide names and contacts for english-speaking support services in each town. That's it.
I will use them again when I get older. For the last 20 -odd years, I have traveled independently, as Untours does not service the areas and towns that I now choose.
I think its a great resource for newbies AND for those slowing down.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 01:20 PM
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I am 57, DH is 66, and we would certainly consider a tour to Asian countries, simply because I think it would be easier than trying to cope with it all independently. We would have to choose the tour carefully though and be sure it allowed for downtime whether that be exploring alone, photography, painting, people watching or just sleeping. I wouldn't want an it's Tuesday it must be Belgium (Vietnam?) type of tour.

We would also love to do a tour of Iran, and visit Oman.

Pipe dreams every one.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 01:36 PM
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DH and I, mid fifties, decided a few years back to visit the more difficult countries sooner, and leave what we perceive to be soft options (USA and Canada) until we are older and perhaps less able bodied.

I like history travellers idea of combining a tour with some independant travel.

In Asia, you could do worse than a river cruise with Pandaw from Cambodia to Vietnam. The cruise is 7 days, excursions can be taken or not, and you are very well looked after. Bookended with a week in Siem Reap, and another in Vietnam gets you some independence, and both counties are very easy to self plan/book.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 01:39 PM
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Thanks for experiences.

Cold omitted the fact that one of the side effects of those pills for ED is fear of tours.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 01:45 PM
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Good point IMD. Who wants to wait out the four hours sitting on the tour bus alone?

This is not news but packing light makes independent travel so much easier. I can't tell you how many huge suitcases I have carried up stairs/across streets for people who were travelling independently but could not manage their luggage.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 01:47 PM
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Like you and your wife, we've travel independently in Europe and also in South America.We have mixed independent and tour travel in Asia. We have stayed in Beijing, Hanoi, Saigon and Bangkok independently staying in hotels with a concierge if we needed to book day tours, ask questions, make dinner reservations, etc. It worked well. Then we took tours with our university to more outlying areas of those countries.
Of course, if you go on the Asia Forum you will receive lots of help with your independent travel plans there.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 02:05 PM
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Why do you think the choice is between "schlepping your bags" and organised tours?

With advancing years, my neurosis isn't carrying bags or foreign languages, but bad (ie hot) weather. So in South or SE Asia we get a driver - which these days always means air conditioning.

He and we work out where we're going. Whatever adventures we might plan en route, we almost always start and end the day at a 4/5 star hotel.

In the Middle East, we'll drive ourselves in Jordan or Turkey, and we're currently iffy about most other places anyway. I suspect we'd use TGVs in China.

I can see the odd occasion we might use an alumnus tour for something interesting (my degree's in Classics: Mrs F's in History of Art, so our alumni assocs often have intriguing ideas - as do many other orgs, from church to garden societies, we belong to). But that (and the odd Spouse Programme at industry conferences) apart, I can't conceive of many circs where we'd let someone else decide where we're going.

Life's too short. And public transport's getting so much better.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 02:16 PM
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The number of places I really want to see is finite, and I'm already beginning to scratch some of them, like India, as just not likely to happen. I'll probably return to Ireland a few more times. I'd also like to visit the Netherlands one more time, where I lived for a while almost 30 years ago. After that, I thought I might like to take a cruise of the Baltic sea; I saw one that had two days in some ports, such as St. Petersburg. I'd like to combine that with a cruise of the Norwegian fjords. Maybe we could take a few more relaxed-pace cruises in our declining years.

Then we'll just do some typical old-people kinds of things, like taking the waters at Baden-Baden or sitting on a veranda at Seal Harbor.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 02:26 PM
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I have never waited that long at a bus stop.

Weather is not a concern in that we can travel when the temperatures are comfortable. Our alumni society tours are expensive but last year they were ridiculous when they offered one for a limited number of people for an around-the-world adventure in a private jet for $150,000 per person.

We are thinking about a trip in 2016 to Israel, Petra and to visit friends in Cairo. While we get to and fro by ourslves, we will definitely engage a tour for Petra and the days we are not with our friends in Cairo.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 02:36 PM
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I'm trying to fit it all in before I crack up. And I travel alone because I don't want other people to mess it up for me. Places like SEAsia, India and the Middle East, South America are probably better done now than later. As I have my own ideas about where I want to go/what I want to see, this usually means doing it independently. Recently I have done some tours because of laziness or what I thought was convenience, but I always end up regretting it. Things like managing my own bag is easy enough: I just don't take much and buy stuff or ditch stuff as I go. And I love languages and figuring out how to get from A to B, see it as keeping Alzheimers at bay. Stamina-wise I spend more time these days sitting drinking tea/coffee/wine and admiring the view . Go slower. Can't imagine either hiring a car or taking a cruise but never say never.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 02:58 PM
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Recently we have enjoyed combining a tour with independent travel. Most often, the beginning and end of tours are places where there is a lot to see but not much time allowed (maybe a day or so). So we like to fly in a few days early and fly out a few days late to see what we really want to see in those destinations. Wouldn't be interested in a cruise at this point because there's such a ridiculously short time in each stop.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 02:58 PM
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When we were younger we scaled the temples at Tikal twice. At that time they hammered ladders into the side of the monument covered with 1,000 years of soil and growth which you climbed and you rested on an occasional tree branch. I think it was Temple 5 where you are about 225 feet up and 75 ft above the tree line. Two of our favorite trips.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 03:03 PM
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My thoughts are; independent for first world and tours for 2nd and 3rd, with a few exceptions.
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Old Aug 5th, 2014, 03:06 PM
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I am trying to do the more strenuous trips before my body says "no more." But (at least at this point) I don't see myself opting for tours as time goes on. Maybe a river cruise...

I have traveled extensively in Asia, and SE Asia is easy travel - there is always someone to manage your luggage (and cheerfully!) and it is easy and cheap to hire a car and driver. We don't hire a car and driver in the cities - we like to use public transport - but out in the countryside that is the easy way to get around. We actually feel that travel in places like Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, VN, even Burma is less physically demanding than travel in Europe where we clock many 10 mile plus walking days.
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