Travellers over 70 reveal their top 10 biggest travel regrets
A new survey reveals the places you should be ticking off your bucket list, sooner rather than later.
Most of us have travel bucket lists. But the results of a new survey by Explore Worldwide reveal exactly why you should be crossing off as many destinations as you can. According to the survey, 62 per cent of people over the age of 70 regretted missing out on visiting at least one dream destination. In case you need any bucket-list inspiration, these 10 destinations and experiences were the biggest travel regrets for those who missed out on the chance to tick them off.
1. Seeing the Northern Lights
The colourful ribbons of light that dance across the sky in the northernmost reaches of our earth have captivated humans for millennia. And they continue to do so today – so much so that missing out on seeing them was the biggest travel regret of the older generation. Thirty-nine per cent of those over 70 lamented that they hadn’t seen the sublime lights ricochet through the airspace. The Northern Lights are ephemeral, unpredictable and rely a fair bit on luck. This adds to the specialness of the experience for those who do manage to catch them.
If you haven’t yet crossed off this bucket list item, don’t fret. The next few years are set to be the best time to witness the Northern Lights. Visitors can head to Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, Canada or Alaska in hopes of spotting this breathtaking natural phenomenon light up the skies.
2. Visiting the Maldives
The Maldives are known as paradise on earth. The islands call to mind luxurious beach bungalows hovering over turquoise waters filled with colourful marine life flitting about. With idyllic year-round sunshine, it’s little surprise that many of the survey responders regret never having left footprints on the islands’ alabaster-white sands. Although a stay on the islands is synonymous with luxury, it is possible to experience the romance and beauty of the Maldives on any budget, from camping on the beach to five-star resorts.
3. Witnessing the Pyramids of Giza
The oldest Wonder of the Ancient World, The Pyramids of Giza, are monumental relics of human history. How the pyramids were built remains one of the world’s biggest mysteries, contributing to their magnetism that draws in 14 million visitors a year. However, marvelling at these mystifying structures is an experience many older travellers expressed regret at missing out on. The Pyramids are accessible as a day trip from Cairo – a destination in its own right with plenty of cultural and culinary highlights.
4. Marveling at Machu Picchu
Known as ‘The Lost City of the Incas’, Machu Picchu is the most famous example of Incan civilization. This otherworldly city perched in Peru’s Andes Mountains was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, drawing in thousands each year who hike up via the Inca Trail. This icon of the Incan Empire consistently inspires travellers, hundreds of years after it was originally built. Understandably, it’s high on the list of travel regrets for those who missed out on seeing it.
5. Getting up close to Niagara Falls
For nature lovers, there isn’t much that can compare to the mighty waterfalls that cleave Canada and the USA. There are hiking trails that thread their way through Niagara Falls National Park, interactive exhibits, and of course, the opportunity to feel the spray of the waterfalls up close on a boat cruise. The awe-inspiring scenery puts this spectacular sight on the list of experiences that travellers most lament missing out on.
6. Taking in the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognised as ‘a jewel of Muslim art in India’. Constructed in the 1600s to house the tomb of the Mughal Emperor’s favourite wife, the Taj Mahal remains an icon of romance, art and architecture. Every inch of the structure is covered in intricate designs which are among the finest in the Mughal empire. Never witnessing this marble mausoleum is among one of the greatest travel regrets, and for good reason. The Taj Mahal was voted one of the new Wonders of the World and is an undeniable bucket-list item. Aside from the iconic structure, there are myriad travel experiences in India that are sure to make your visit truly unforgettable.
7. Walking the Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is one of the world’s most notorious structures, a great feat of human engineering that spans more than 7000 kilometres. Each brick holds a story of heritage, history and human civilization. The wall first came to be as a series of structures in the 7th century BC. It was maintained throughout the centuries to keep out invading nomads from the Eurasian Steppe. Now, hundreds of years later, more than 10 million people travel each year to witness and walk along the mighty wall. Another Wonder of the World and an icon of world civilization, a visit to The Great Wall of China is one you’re unlikely to forget.
8. Rambling about the Ruins of Petra
Walking through Petra, a city carved into the rockface in the Jordanian desert, feels like stepping into a fantasy or sci-fi novel. One of the most iconic cities of antiquity, ‘The Rose City’ (as nicknamed for its radiant hue) is truly a marvel to behold. Archaeology buffs will be delighted wandering about the remarkably-preserved city, taking in the awe-inspiring treasury, tombs and monasteries. The city is a rare relic of history and ancient culture, and its majesty can only be truly appreciated in person.
9. Spotting wildlife on an African Safari
Africa is home to some of the earth’s most iconic animals. A safari is an opportunity to witness wildlife at its most majestic, from a pride of lions languishing in the shade to giraffes gnawing on acacia trees. The ‘Big 5’ animals have captured most people’s imagination since childhood, so the opportunity to see them in the wild is particularly special. Based on the fact that never spotting wildlife on a safari was one of the biggest travel regrets in the survey, this once-in-a-lifetime trip might be one to add to your list. There are different ways to experience a wildlife safari in Africa, we’ve compiled a guide on how to choose the perfect safari for you.
10. Hitting the tarmac on a Californian road trip
A Californian road trip calls to mind the carefree ethos of a bygone era, marmalade-hued sunsets and a killer soundtrack that blares as you whizz down the highway. It’s no surprise that this is one of the experiences most lamented by those who never got the chance to trace the Pacific coast on the tarmac with the windows down. A road trip in the famous West Coast state is the stuff of dreams, taking you past beaches, wineries, sprawling metropolises and through gorgeous scenery. We’ve pulled together the perfect California road trip itinerary for a true taste of Americana, so you can be sure to cross this iconic journey off your bucket list.