Mark Twain once said: ‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’
In the spirit of the great American writer — and traveller (he voyaged across the world from Australia to India and Europe) — here we have compiled the Six Ages of Travel.
There are no hard and fast rules but it does make sense to get your clubbing in Ibiza trip out of your system before you’re drawing your pension. Then again, as Joan Collins once famously uttered: ‘Age is just a number.’
BY THE AGE OF 30: THE WORLD’S YOUR OYSTER
LIGHT OF A FULL MOON
The Full Moon parties on Koh Phangan in Thailand remain (just) on the right side of the gap-year cliche
The original 1970s backpacker trail doesn’t grow old. Find less touristy spots in Vietnam and Cambodia, or head to Thailand for paradise beaches, shimmering temples, muscle-pummelling massages and aromatic curries.
MUST DO: The Full Moon parties on Koh Phangan in Thailand remain (just) on the right side of the gap-year cliche.
BOOK IT: A week-long stay at the four-star Buri Rasa Village Koh Phangan costs from £1,323 pp including flights (0344 739 2961, virginholidays.co.uk).
BITE THE BIG APPLE
It’s the coolest metropolis on the planet. Eat pastrami on rye in the East Village, dance around the Friends fountain in Central Park and dream of being able to shop on Fifth Avenue.
MUST DO: Exit the Empire State Building’s Art Deco lift on the 86th floor at dusk and watch New York city light up, one skyscraper at a time.
BOOK IT: Doubles at The Box House Hotel in Brooklyn from £92 (theboxhousehotel.com). Fly with Norwegian to JFK from £280 (norwegian.com).
MOUNTAIN HIGHS FOR MILLENNIALS
Peak fitness years deserve a stellar ski destination. Val d’Isère in France, regularly voted Europe’s top winter resort, dovetails 300 km of pristine pistes with thumping après-ski including favourite Dick’s Tea Bar.
MUST DO: Ascend to Leissières, and swoosh back down via one of the prettiest blue runs in the Alps, Instagramming as you go.
BOOK IT: Stay all-inclusive at the Chalet Cristal for £969pp, based on March departures, flights and transfers included (01273 855100, skibeat.co.uk).
BY THE AGE OF 40: TIME FOR SOME BIG TRIPS
LET’S GO TO RIO
Dance the samba, Brazilian-style with locals in trendy Lapa and board the historic funicular to see Christ the Redeemer
Dance the samba, Brazilian-style with locals in trendy Lapa, board the historic funicular to see Christ the Redeemer and watch silky skills between local teams at the hallowed Maracanã stadium.
MUST DO: Watch Rio’s famous beach life from the terrace at the glitzy Copacabana Palace hotel — with a caipirinha cocktail in your hand. It’s a snip at £7.50.
BOOK IT: An eight-day full-board Best of Brazil tour with Hayes And Jarvis, including flights, transfers and excursions costs from £3,499 pp (01293 762456, hayesandjarvis.co.uk).
BIG SUR ROAD TRIPPING
Channel Thelma (or Louise) and put your foot on the gas. Easy wheelin’ on California’s sunlit Pacific Coast Highway, bookended by San Francisco and San Diego, is one of America’s most thrilling road trips.
MUST DO: The Big Sur’s famous Nepenthe restaurant pairs grand wines with even grander views — including blue whales from June to September.
BOOK IT: An incredible ten-night California road trip costs from £1,499 pp including flights, hotels and car hire (01244 342099, theamericanroadtripcompany.co.uk).
SAY G’DAY TO AUSTRALIA
Still a horizon-stretching adventure, Sydney and the beach-perfect East coast mixes striking landmarks with endless sands and adorable wildlife.
MUST DO: Sydney Opera House warrants the guidebook fawning. After 24 hours in the sky, sitting on its steps is a glorious way to begin a visit Down Under.
BOOK IT: A two-week trip taking in Sydney, Uluru, Alice Springs and the Great Barrier Reef costs from £6,996 for a family of four including hotels and flights (0203 139 7026, travelbag.co.uk).
BY THE AGE OF 50: HOLS FOR GROWN-UPS
TOUR A CHAMPAGNE HOUSE
Under an hour from Paris, the Champagne region makes a wonderfully chic break, with the chance to contemplate ‘floral notes’ and ‘bubble content’ as you clink flutes. The big names, including Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon, offer tours.
MUST DO: Check out a shipwrecked bottle dating from 1840 in Veuve Clicquot’s cellars, then quaff vintage champers paired with an exquisite fromage du région.
BOOK IT: Arblaster and Clarke offers champagne weekends in Reims from £895 pp including coach travel from the UK, a tour and two nights’ B&B in a four-star hotel (01730 263111, arblasterandclarke.com).
BIG FIVE AND THE BEACH
A wild old time: The cheetah is just one of the great beasts to see on a game drive
Seeing Africa’s wildlife in the flesh is life-affirming and Kruger National Park in South Africa offers a perfect introduction.
MUST DO: Dawn game drives to spot the Big Five plus hyenas, cheetahs and bird life.
BOOK IT: Audley Travel’s 12-day classic safari twins a stay at Kruger National Park with Mozambique’s Machangulo Peninsula from £4,335 pp including flights, accommodation and tours (01993 662348, audleytravel.com).
MAKE FOR THE AMALFI COAST
OK, Italy is out of bounds for now, but when the coronavirus lockdown is lifted head to the Amalfi Coast. It’s 25 miles of Unesco-listed cliff-edge glamour with pastel-coloured hotels, bijou boutiques and gorgeous sea views; towns such as Sorrento and Positano are irresistible.
MUST DO: Sail to Capri for mouth-watering seafood in the tiny isle’s famous piazzetta.
BOOK IT: A week’s B&B at four-star La Conca Azzurra, 90 minutes south of Naples, costs from £845 pp including flights (01293 831970, citalia.com).
BY THE AGE OF 60: FREE AGAIN
GREAT WALL, GREAT CITIES
Step ahead: A small section of the Great Wall of China, a 13,000-mile tourist attraction
China is another country that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is advising against visiting right now because of the coronavirus — but it’s definitely one to take a trip to when everything calms down.
Top of the must-see list is the Great Wall of China. It courses for 13,000 miles and is easy to visit from Beijing.
MUST DO: Stroll along this 2,000-year-old stone dragon, and then ‘wheeee’ back down via the toboggan run at the Mutianyu section.
BOOK IT: A seven-night Shanghai and Beijing tour costs from £1,095 pp, including B&B accommodation (020 7371 1113, onthegotours.com).
FIND WHISKEY IN DUBLIN’S JAR
With its cobblestone streets fringed with lovely old pubs just south of Dublin’s River Liffey, Dublin’s Temple Bar quarter is swollen with tipsy sightseers on a Friday night — but you can still have some fantastic fun.
MUST DO: Enjoy the craic and a pint of the black stuff in Temple Bar Inn, one of Ireland’s most famous watering holes.
BOOK IT: Doubles at the Ranelagh Rooms in Dublin from £94 (00353 1 685 5835, ranelaghrooms.com). Ryanair fly to Dublin from about £20 return (ryanair.com).
TREK PERU’S INCA TRAIL
The ancient city of Machu Picchu sits at 2,430 metres on an Andean mountain top.
Whether you hike or ride the tourist train, the final destination is one of South America’s most atmospheric sights.
WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU…
UP TO THE AGE OF 30
- Hangover cure
- Extreme sports cover
UP TO THE AGE OF 40
- Board games for the children
- Melissa Odabash one-piece swimsuit
UP TO THE AGE OF 50
- Running shoes/Lycra
- Long lens for your ‘proper’ camera
UP TO THE AGE OF 60
- Hip flask
- Limo to the airport
UP TO THE AGE OF 70
- Shooting stick that doubles as a walking stick and seat
- Vitamin shots
70s AND OVER
- Name of your doctor
- Bespoke insurance tailored for any ailment
MUST DO: Even with an army of smartphone-wielding tourists, the mist swirling above this Inca citadel is worth the mileage.
BOOK IT: A 12-night Peru tour, with train tickets to Machu Picchu, costs from £1,898 pp including the flights, transfers and accommodation (0203 636 1931, tui.co.uk).
BY THE AGE OF 70: RETIREMENT ROCKS
TRIP THE LIGHT FANTASTIC
What better way to cast your eyes on the milky luminescence of the aurora borealis (Northern Lights) than from the comfort of a cruise ship in Norway, draped in a warm rug with a hot chocolate in hand?
MUST DO: Wrap up, be patient — and Mother Nature may reward with a truly celestial light show.
BOOK IT: A 12-day round-trip cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes costs from £2,566 pp. Call Hurtigruten on 020 3993 6209, or visit hurtigruten.co.uk. Fly to Bergen with Wizz Air from £90, wizzair.com.
INDIA’S GOLDEN TRIANGLE
Expect colourful chaos, fab shopping and staggering wildlife — including India’s prowling beauties at Ranthambore National Park — in the Golden Triangle between Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
MUST DO: The Taj Mahal — described by poet Rabindranath Tagore as ‘a teardrop on the cheek of eternity’.
BOOK IT: Voyage Jules Verne offers a nine-night Golden Triangle Tour from £1,495 including flights, tours and accommodation (020 3733 9499, vjv.com).
FRANCE’S HORTICULTURAL MASTERPIECE
Claude Monet’s 19th- century garden in Giverny, 50 miles north-west of Paris, rightly ranks as one of the world’s most beautiful, with the artist’s former family home equally captivating.
MUST DO: See the water lily ponds and wisteria-adorned bridge that inspired the artist.
BOOK IT: A three-night Monet’s Garden break costs from £399 pp including coach travel from the UK (01709 787463, leger.co.uk).
70 AND OVER: THE PARTY’S JUST BEGUN
RIDE HOME ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
Train gain: A two-day, one-night journey between Venice and London costs from £3,255 pp including meals
Another Italian offering, so one to plan in advance. But who can resist a trip on the Venice Simplon Orient Express?
The gleaming carriages chug out of Venice’s Santa Lucia station, beginning 31 hours of luxury as you cross Europe in style.
MUST DO: Take lunch — with Switzerland providing the scenery — in one of the three elegant restaurant cars.
BOOK IT: A two-day, one-night journey between Venice and London costs from £3,255 pp including meals (0845 077 2222, belmond.com).
LAND OF THE RISING SUN
Blossom time: ‘Safe, friendly Japan is heaven-sent for older travellers,’ writes Joanna Tweedy
If long-haul flights hold no fear, then safe, friendly Japan is heaven-sent for older travellers. Marvel at cerise clouds of cherry blossom, delicious food and high-tech loos.
MUST DO: Grab a seat on a bullet train and thunder past snow-dusted Mount Fuji.
BOOK IT: Riviera Travel’s escorted tour takes in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Kyoto, from £3,549 pp for 13 days including flights, tours and accommodation (01283 888167, rivieratravel.co.uk).
A RIGHT ROYAL DAY OUT
Peak behind the fascinating curtain of royal life at Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Windsor Castle.
The latter opened its Inner Halls for the first time in October.
MUST DO: At Buckingham Palace, marvel at the Chair of Estate, used in the Queen’s 1953 coronation, in the Throne Room designed by John Nash.
BOOK IT: The Buckingham Palace State Rooms are open July to September (and on selected other dates).
Entrance is £26.50 for adults, £14.50 for children under 17 (0303 123 7300, rct.uk).