A Life in Travel

6 minutes reading time (1149 words)

Catering To Boomer Travelers, Part I

I received a query from a journalist asking us how travelers ages 50 plus can live an interesting life into their senior years. To which I replied, "Travel, of course!!" She asked me how we prepare boomers for adventure travel and what kinds of trips we offer that cater to travelers ages 50+. Although we have offered trips for families for many years, most of our Wildland Adventures around the world are designed for adults 50+. In fact, after more than a quarter century pioneering ecotourism and adventure travel around the world, many of the former parents who traveled with us when their kids were young and at home are now grandparents taking the whole clan to the rainforests of Costa Rica, on safari in Africa, to learn about evolution and see the amazing wildlife of Galapagos, or to explore the Mayan ruins of Belize and Guatemala.

First of all, I told the writer, as founding owners of Wildland Adventures, we qualify as members of the elite 50+ boomers to which she is writing about. (See the profile article about Kurt and Anne Kutay in the Seattle Metropolitan Magazine). In fact, the majority of our guests are 50+, many of them professionals and active retired boomers who are enjoying their time on the road with us!
Kurt and Anne Kutay hiking on our Turquoise Coast Odyssey in Turkey. Our gulet awaits us anchored below.

For example, here's a quote from a member of the Wildland group we recently led on our 19-day Tigers and Travels in India, who has been on many Wildland Adventures previously:

"My wife and I have been doing serious travel adventures out of the country for the past 30 years. So we didn't have an abrupt arrival at 50+ as rookies. We have taken 8 trips booked with Wildland Adventures because they have spent their lives hand picking incredible locations as well as one of a kind places to stay. South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Panama, Patagonia, Antarctica, Costa Rica, India, Egypt, Jordan, Peru.... Incredible adventures. We both retired 4 years ago at age 65 with a deep desire for more time to immerse in places we were interested it. In addition, we got jobs working 4 different 3 month stints in Yellowstone National Park in their central reservations office, living right in the park. So between our travels and keeping up with 4 grandchildren, we're thinking about going back to our old jobs to get a rest. This retirement thing is hard work!" ~Jerome Teles

(Note: We hired an Indian filmmaker who made an amazing 27 minute documentary video of our Wildland Adventure in India.)

Personally, what we enjoy most about working with boomers like myself is creating personalized and meaningful adventures similar to what we all did as more independent backpack travelers 30-40 years ago--although now we are more educated, wealthy and prefer a higher level style of travel. Many of our guests seek our travel planning services either because they are still working and very busy, or otherwise because they appreciate--and can afford--the better experience with good guides and unique itineraries that bring us close to the people and places where we travel. Not to forget the added comforts, charm and character of the lovely boutique accommodations that we seek out and incorporate into our adventure vacations. So, it is our challenge and opportunity at Wildland Adventures to make sure our travelers have the kind of spontaneity and close-to-the-ground real-world experiences they enjoyed when they had more time and to allow their adventurous spirit to unfold and guide them on their journey with us. It's also why as specialists in the 50+ travelers market, we cater to many discerning travelers by designing custom private trips according to their dates, style, budget and interests.

Peter and Kay Kaplan requested a private tour of Turkey with another couple the Thulins, their long-time Princeton alumni friends. Together they asked us to design a trip that not only explored the history, culture and Mediterranean coast of Turkey, but also special cuisines, several extra in-depth days of guided exploration in Istanbul, and traveling overland in western Turkey to small villages and ancient sites off the popular routes. Throughout their Wildland Adventure we arranged opportunities for them to meet with students, scholars, business people, artists and villagers from a cross-section of Turkish society to learn about contemporary political, economic and religious matters not only from their Wildland guide, but through their own, direct connections with people they encountered along the way.

This is how Peter captures the spirit of what we do for boomers like them:

“Wildland Adventures made this custom trip one of a lifetime. The itinerary was a constant adventure with unparalleled opportunities to experience the Turkish culture, history and archeological ruins. You made extraordinary efforts to introduce us to local people, to identify wonderful local hotels, and to arrange for excellent meals that allowed a full sampling of local dishes and specialties. Transportation was first class and our guides were among the best we have ever had. We were able to make last minute changes to our itinerary that allowed us to tailor the experience as it occurred. An unforgettable adventure.” ~Peter Kaplan
The Kaplans and the Thulins on our Turkey tour of Ephesus.

Certainly, preparing our guests to travel is one of the most important expectations they have of us, and one of our greatest responsibilities to them, and to their hosts when they arrive. Having the right expectations as to cultural norms, and well as transportation and accommodations, and various local conditions (climate, terrain, cuisine, difficulty, etc) is essential especially in more remote and undeveloped regions of the world where travelers must be properly prepared to enjoy the experience. I just returned from leading our inaugural Bedouin Trek to Petra in Jordan. Everyone was over 60, some above 70, and it was one rugged trek through the deserts, wadis (canyons) and mountains of Jordan. We worked very closely with our Jordanian trekking guide to clearly define the details of the terrain and conditions (ie. length of hiking each day and elevation changes, etc) in the itinerary and the subsequent pre-departure dossier we provided once they booked the trip (as we do for all Wildland Adventures). The participants on this trek told me that they poured over every detail before they signed up and used that as a basis to work out hard before departure...and it paid off!

Here is the post-trip advice after the fact from Leigh Hudgins:
"Train seriously to get into shape ! The daily statistics of miles and elevation gains and losses, while accurate, did not prepare me for the reality of the ruggedness of the Jordanian landscape. However, I wouldn't "dumb down" this route. I loved every bit of it." ~Leigh Hudgins

Leigh Hudgins on the Bedouin Trek to Petra in Jordan. 
Keeping it wild,

Kurt Kutay
Read Part 2
Costa Rican Christmas Traditions
Highlights of East Africa

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