As we get older and wiser, most of us want vacations that are a little easier than we desired in the past. We want to experience new surroundings, as well as sometimes revisit the old.
Selecting your travel depends on your experience, budget and lifestyle. For me, I don't mind "roughing" it all day if I can return to nice lodgings in the evening.
If you want to explore on your own by automobile, driving up the Pacific Coast from San Diego to San Francisco, stopping as you desire makes for a pleasurable vacation.
Or, you may prefer a stay-put holiday whereby you stay at a hotel or resort and venture out from there each day to explore.
The west coast is nice all year for this. Another driving vacation might be first flying to Seattle, renting a car and, after two or three days there, heading north into Canada to Vancouver. This city is loaded with interesting sightseeing, a scenic bay, parks, shopping, fine lodging and nice people. There is ethnic diversity here and you can enjoy different restaurants each day.
From Vancouver, take your car on a ferry to Vancouver Island and spend at least one day in Victoria. This is a piece of old England and you'll love it. Then, if you have time, circle this rather large island, stopping at some of the fine lodges and hotels nestled along the seashore. You'll never forget it. Stately pines, sea life and backwoods most of the way.
You might also want to visit the Northwest's national parks. Drive to Las Vegas, see a show or two, drop a few coins in the slots, then head for the wonders of Zion and Bryce National Parks. Onward to Salt Lake City for an overnight, and then continue to Jackson Hole to experience the rough-cut Grand Tetons. Fine lodging is available here and you'll want to stay at least a day to take in the beauty of the area.
Onward to Yellowstone National Park, with all of its special sights and experiences and then through Helena and Missoula to Glacier National Park, which is located just south of the Canadian border. Again, if you have time, continue west into Seattle for a couple of days before returning home via Portland and San Francisco.
Some seniors prefer the ease and security of a tour. Here, you leave all the planning, directing and itinerary to the tour company. Trafalgar Tours offers a 13-night, escorted tour from July 22 through Aug. 4 visiting the national parks of the Northwest. The tour is roundtrip from Las Vegas, with good hotels, some meals, luxury motor coach, complimentary airport transfers and admission charges at the parks and featured attractions. The fare, for double occupancy, is $2,535 per person. This is just one of the many companies catering to those seeking tours. You can find out more online or from your favorite travel professional.
Costa Rica is another popular touring spot. This Central American country has enjoyed a democratic government for many years, has a high level of literacy, is clean, has good water and varied and tasty foods. The people are friendly and many speak English. The capital, San Jose, is located high in a central valley with a mild climate. It is interesting, but you want to explore the beauty of the mountains, the volcanoes, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Pacific beaches. One tour company, Gate 1, offers year-round departures to Costa Rica, visiting the major sights in seven days for $599 per person, land only. Check online or visit with a travel professional to learn more about this company and others that may include other opportunities for a visit to Costa Rica.
There are many fine tour companies providing tours all over the world. Some of the more interesting areas for me are: Asia, which would include China, Thailand and Japan. The United Kingdom is always at the top of my list, with special interest now in Ireland.
Europe always pleases -- begin in Paris, and then take trains throughout the continent, stopping off at those towns and cities that hold special interest for you. Eastern European countries are gaining popularity as hotels improve and sightseeing becomes easier. You can purchase a Eurail pass before you leave the U.S. and save money.
Italy never disappoints, as far as I am concerned. Travelers should always include Rome, Venice, Florence and the fantastic countryside with its interesting villages, wines and food.
Scandinavia offers majestic scenery, fascinating cities and towns packed with Viking history. The magnificent fjords are best enjoyed from a cruise ship.
Russia has come into vogue for some, with perhaps the most interesting city being St. Petersburg. In this country, I would strongly suggest being part of a tour.
Some people are discovering the beauty of South America and Africa. Egypt and Israel are special, but one should strongly consider using a tour operator for these locations.
The South Pacific can be enjoyed all year round. The Tahitian islands are similar to Hawaii with a French flair.
New Zealand and Australia can be seen on an independent basis or by tour. You can rent a car and drive all over both countries, stopping as you choose. Motels and hotels offer good accommodation with good food, and everyone speaks English.
Cruises are very popular today with seniors. They are all inclusive, relaxing and you leave the worries to others. You might like to try a freighter. The plus side of this mode of cruising is a lot of privacy, long sea time and rest. The down side is few passengers to converse with, perhaps only three or four others, and you may face boredom.
For some years I have enjoyed the pleasures of Voyages of Discovery's marvelous ship, the Discovery. It is 20,000 gross tons, 553 feet long and carries only 650 guests with British officers and a great Filipino service crew. The ship has the amenities of the great liners, but with fewer passengers. It feels like a private yacht. It roams the world each year. You board at point A and get off wherever you choose.
Most of the guests are on board from two weeks to three months. The food is continental, plentiful and very tasty. There are always informed lecturers who provide interesting talks on various subjects, including detailed information on the ports to be visited.
The shore excursion staff is the best, and everyone has a smile and wants to help. The Ocean and Cruise Liner Society, whose members are experienced world travelers, have rated it for three years in a row Best Cruise Value. I'll be on the ship the first weeks of July, visiting England, Norway and Scotland.
Consult a travel professional, request brochures and do research online. Have a wonderful summer, filled with new experiences.