"For sightseers not travellers or tourists" hquittner's Profile


I am an 83 yr old happily married retired physician. My travelling companion and I have been avid sightseers for almost 40 yearsIn the past 26 years wehave concentrated on Europe and have over 30 adventures there.Until 1998 it was independent travel. Since then we have relied on "senior tours" (GCT and Elderhostel) or "rent-an-offspring" to chauffeur and baby-sit us(an expensive but much recommended venue).

Is sightseeing a hereditary or infectious disease?

I came upon this picture from 1935 of myself (left, aged 13), my brother (aged 8) and my mother (aged 37) standing in front of Niagra Falls (aged ?). It was the first stop in our 6-week summer vacation (by train) from New York City to Los Angeles and return. It was planned (and financed) by my father, an inveterate sightseer. Although my mother had a Caribbean cruise under her blet, we had never been beyond a trip to Washington, D.C. As the older male, I was "in charge".I have been sightseeing ever since. As a retired "physician-infectious disease reseacher, I began to speculate. Is there a travel-bug (latent virus) that is transmitted vertically through the generations or is there a hereditary gene (only 5-10 generations back our families were wanderer-travellers) or is it just culturally inspired at home? I seem to have infected my wife whose family did not travel after "going west", but maybe I just activated a latent virus. It seems I have infected my children and step-children and grandchildren who are old enough to know they are travelling.

Advantages of Senior Tours

1)longer abodes in one place(especially boat tours :not cruises).2)all luggage handling.3)many modest mediocre meals(over 70 yrs your gourmandise is bad for your health).4)very compatible travelling associates(most).5)variably valuable information on sights seen.6)relief from logistical problems(but be alert!)7)Safety

Disadvantages of Senior Tours

1) Tour buses are harder on elderly bodies than most cars and some trains.2)hotel locales are RARELY convenient for independent looking and dining.3)it is assumed that a group has a short attention span (walking tours rarely exceed 2 hours or 2 miles) OR "out-the window been there seen that".4)a clear difference exists between "see" and "visit"5)"optional excursions" have little detail and are hard to evaluate on a cost;benefit basis(I will describe some experiences),6)characterless comfortable commercial accomodations negotiated by the packager for his profit(hence #2 above).7) rarely fallback plans in the face of "difficulties"

Can You make the grade

Pace and stamina are impossible to gauge for other elderly sightseers. How long does it take you to walk 1 km on a smooth level path? Can you clim 100 steps (only 10 with a railing?), Detailed pre-planning is essential for the senior sightseer,In fact over-planning gives one "fallback" for bad weather and unanticipated events, Try to "know" where you wish to go. Study up and dream your trip before you go, Be "pushy" with the tour leader and ask others. (You will probably never see or hear from them again) USE VT (adv ) but you know that !

Senior Safety Roles (good for anyone?)

1)keep wallet(money passport)ina zippered inner pocket (or belt) and otherwise in a "secure" place. (Preplan your removals of same) 1A)At the ATM (or bank counter) try to have cover (another person) while you stash your money. Rearrange it later in a safe place.1B)Do not carry passports or tickets unless unavoidable or needed. Store a backup copies and vital numbers deep in your luggage.2)Never separate yourself from something vualbe and easily stolen (camera, camcorder), avoid overhead racks except in a private vehicle.3)Be aware of strangers getting near you or into your group. If you are a "group" keep together and do not spread out. You have already identified yourself as a tourist.,4)Pickpockets and thieves are professionals.2 M. O.'s: A) Strike and run(muggers,2 wheel vehicle types} B)fast-finger and gypsy maneuvers(read up and be aware).5) Be aware of traffic rules where you walk (eg bike paths and British style motor traffic).6)Do not dress richyou can only impress a thief. Nobody else knows you!

  • Intro Updated May 7, 2007
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Comments (64)

  • Mar 16, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    Yes, you have interested writing on senior tours. Now, that I take small groups, I have to take into consideration a lot of things and your thoughts are very helpful.

  • isolatedpawn's Profile Photo
    Feb 6, 2014 at 5:20 AM

    happy birthday to you happy birthday to you happy birhtday happy birthday happy birthday to you

  • kahnjetta's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    Happy Birthday:))

  • toemayn's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2014 at 5:27 AM

    Hope your birthday is filled with all the fun you can handle!

  • CEP1863's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2014 at 2:07 AM

    Wishing you a very happy birthday, hope it's a good one!

  • isolatedpawn's Profile Photo
    Aug 28, 2013 at 5:09 AM

    tnx for the info. nice article.

  • breughel's Profile Photo
    Jul 19, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    I saw you wrote new tips about Pisa. Will read them soon.

  • hquittner's Profile Photo
    Jun 18, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    I have finally learned how to use my new (Apple)-Mac after a year of family working with me. I had to learn too much for a 91 year old. And then there was all the analog videos to transfer. I will try to write only about Italy. I think I will be able to do it using Dragon, otherwise I may have to give up. Typing is too hard. I have done two paragraphs by typing on Pisa. I also may not write as cleverly any more.

    • gwened's Profile Photo
      Jun 18, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      Wishing you can write many more, nice pages a pleasure to read always.Cheers

  • Maryimelda's Profile Photo
    May 22, 2013 at 1:22 AM

    Hi quittner, I just want to thank you for taking the time to write such good advice and tips for "senior" travellers. As the years go by, I am finding it harder and harder to move around when I make my regular trips to Europe. It is so good to hear of others who can relate to me. thanks again.

  • Usctwin's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Happy birthday, hope you do something fun to celebrate!

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