Your 60s are the time for retiring, at last, grandchildren, maybe, returning to your passion – painting water colours or driving race cars – but above all, travel. It’s time to see the world on your terms, rediscover old thrills and tick off bucket list items one by one. But after speaking to Baby Boomers about sojourning in their 60s, their adventures are every bit as predictable and embarrassing as the Contiki catastrophes I hazily recall. If you’re a Boomer on tour, chances are you’ll have done most of these… By Mark Swivel.
Keeping it real (estate)
Southern Spain is great. The Alhambra, the monkeys of Gibraltar and a ferry across to Africa. But why waste time getting immersed in the culture, when you can blow nine days of a fortnight in your moderately priced villa rental (with half a swimming pool) being shown around by real estate agents and time-share shonksters? You only live once.
Trashing a car
Only wimps don’t drive overseas. And if horses can handle cobblestones, a brand new Alfa 159 can handle the mean streets of Siena. Then you miss the Senso Unico sign and find yourself trapped in a 14th Century gateway by a reversing fishmonger. You wait for everyone to go home and enjoy a fantastic meal in a hole-in-the-wall before eventually going back to the car.
Buying a Turkish rug
Having made do with cork tiles and shag pile for a quarter century, the need for an authentic Turkish rug strikes you in a marketplace in suburban Istanbul. The waft of the coffee and the cry of the muezzin combine to seal the deal. The shipping costs are outrageous but you are so determined to be genuine.
Having made do with cork tiles and shag pile for a quarter century, the need for an authentic Turkish rug strikes you in a marketplace in suburban Istanbul.
A landmark is not a landmark until it’s encased in a squat dome, full of gloop and fake snowflakes. Big Ben, the Great Wall and the Empire State are only properly enjoyed in this form, on your mantelpiece. And it makes it easy for your relatives to choose pressies for you on their trips, because they know what you like.
As a traveller you should be able to hold a tune. Just the one. But some travellers cannot help themselves and on the Princess of the Seas, after sampling each of the available tequilas, you find yourself working through your entire repertoire of Burt Bacharach, Neil Diamond and Tom Jones covers. Including Song Sung Blue.
Love in a laundromat
Travel is a dirty business. But at least washing means you get to meet the locals. Halfway through a Women’s Weekly World Discovery tour, you’re picked up by a professor of philosophy. You insist you’re married, catholic and way past having an affair. This only encourages the professor (This happened to my mum).
At Cairo airport, you offload all the coinage you’ve acquired from three months on the road. You grace the palm of a bathroom attendant with more money than he has seen since he worked as a cleaner in a bank. You have never seen a smile like it. Will he celebrate by getting drunk or send his kids to school?
Tuk-tuk me in
In Bangkok, you meet the nicest tuk-tuk driver in the world. You insist on using only him. He becomes part of your family. You write to him after you get home. You use him again when you go back. After three years, you send him a snowdome of the Sydney Opera House.
You must capture every precious moment. The festivals in Bali, the gannets in Iceland, the chipmunks on the Skyline Drive. And then you come home and have to organise all the footage you’ve collected over the years. Latest projections suggest you need to live to 117 to watch even half of it.
Illustration by Jase Harper.