“We had a great experience when our car broke down in Tanzania. We were out in the fields waiting for help to arrive, and 4o feet away from us was a caravan of elephants. It helped pass the time.”
In 2013, Nancy Bradford and Anne Wyatt Brown made a pact to travel together.
Known as the “RPP Travel Buddies” after the Baltimore retirement home, Roland Park Place, where they both live, Bradford and Brown started off their adventures together with a trip to Africa. The two kept their journeys going with visits to Peru, Morocco, Tanzania, Mississippi and South Africa.
Next year, Bradford and Brown will be taking a boat trip to Europe to visit England, Ireland and Scotland. Bradford will be 89.
Jessie on a Journey talked to the buddies to learn more about their journeys and get some senior travel tips.
What prompted you to travel together?
Nancy: We met at Roland Park Place and became friends right away. After realizing we might get along well, we planned our first trip together. I’ve traveled all my life. Travel was a passion I shared with my late husband. We took our kids across the country. Right now, I’m taking my grandchildren on various trips as well.
How do your travel styles match and differ?
Nancy: We do very well together. We also have a similar sense of humor, which matches up with our travel style. However, we never share a room. Anne is ten years younger than me and there are things she can do that, at 88, I just can’t.
How do you balance each other out?
Anne: We balance things out by agreeing on things ahead of time. For instance, we generally go with a travel company. Everything is taken care of and we have time to enjoy the experience.
Does each of you handle certain aspects of a trip?
Anne: We both agree to go somewhere, but there are differences. For instance, Nancy does the phone calls, sets us up and generally makes suggestions. She books the tour and then we discuss logistics, like how to get to our destination.
Do you both prefer group tours?
Nancy: We mostly stick to group tours with about 10 to 15 people. I’m in my 80s, so you have to plan it well when you’re older.
Anne: So far, when we’ve traveled together, we’ve always had a company handle our arrangements. The only exception was our paddle boat trip through the Mississippi, where it was harder to plan a tour.
What’s traveling like for both of you as seniors?
Anne: Overall it’s been a great experience, but we realize that we are getting older. On our last trip, the group was mostly made up of couples, and they weren’t really interested in chatting with a couple of widowers. It was kind of a downer and the first time we had experienced something like that. We’ve also noticed that walking trips are getting harder for us, so we’re keeping that in mind for our next trip.
Nancy: I know I can’t do some of the things I used to do 10 years ago, like hiking to Machu Picchu, but I will travel as long as I can.
What has been your most memorable experience so far?
Nancy: We had a great experience when our car broke down in Tanzania. We were out in the fields waiting for help to arrive, and 4o feet away from us was a caravan of elephants. It helped pass the time.
Anne: We ended up back in Nairobi on the day of the Westgate shopping mall attack. We were at the same hotel, and all of a sudden our bags had to be checked as if we were going through airport security. We had no idea what was going on. Finally, we got inside and learned what had happened. The next day, I saw so many residents who had lined up to give blood. I think that we were the last Americans traveling to Nairobi who didn’t have to worry about these things.
From your experiences, how do locals generally react to senior travelers?
Anne: Something that I’ve noticed is that our local guides are always interested in us. We enjoy talking to them and they normally ask us many questions.
What destinations are on your must-see list?
Nancy: I think it’s the one we’re planning for next year. It’s a summer trip to Scotland, Ireland and England. We’re going on a small boat to cut down on all the walking.
The RPP Travel Buddies’ Tips for Senior Travelers
- Pick any destination in the world and read about it before you go. You can get there, just like we did.
- Pick a friend you know you can travel with.
- If you are with a group, let them know your limitations. If you can’t walk for a long time, it’s OK to admit it.
- Be realistic on what you can accomplish. Don’t think that because you want to walk, you can walk.
- Don’t ignore the suggestions on the difficulty of the trip. We ignored them at first; don’t do what we did.
- If things get demanding, speak up and suggest something else to do with the trip leader.
- If you feel you can’t do something, let the tour guide know.
Do you have any senior travel tips to add? Please share in the comments below!
This was originally published by Jessie on a Journey.