Over-50s on the gap year trail as they follow in the footsteps of their globetrotting children

Over-50s on the gap year trail as they follow in the footsteps of their globetrotting children

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UPDATED:

02:18 GMT, 20 March 2012

For years they have been havens for adventurous young travellers and gap year students, many seeking to escape the watchful eye of their parents.

But if they wanted their elders to stay away, it seems globe-trotting youngsters shouldn’t have been so enthusiastic about their chosen holiday destinations.

For backpackers’ favourites such as Thailand are now attracting a growing number of older visitors – inspired by their children’s exciting experiences.

Branching out: An older traveller at Thailand's Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Backpacker destinations are becoming increasingly popular among the over-50s, who are turning their backs on old favourites such as the Canaries

Branching out: An older traveller at Thailand's Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Backpacker destinations are becoming increasingly popular among the over-50s, who are turning their backs on old favourites such as the Canaries

Adventure: Older holidaymakers have been inspired by their children's exciting travel experiences

One in ten over-50s has been on holiday to a country they hadn’t previously considered visiting after their children returned home raving about it, according to research commissioned by Thomas Cook. The study found that more than half of those over 50 plan to travel the world once they retire.

And while 44 per cent of them are jealous of the travelling younger people do now, almost as many – four in ten – are taking the opportunity in their autumn years to visit destinations they had never dreamt of going to when they themselves were young.

The study of 5,000 people, including almost 1,000 over-50s, found four in ten older holidaymakers are opting for an adventure-filled break, taking part in every excursion and activity they can squeeze into their trip.

And as they do so, the report found that the older generation are turning their backs on previous favourites such as the Canary Islands, mainland Spain and Portugal.

TOP TEN DESTINATIONS FOR OVER-50S

Australia

Canada

New Zealand

U.S.

Caribbean

Italy

Seychelles

Ireland

Florida

Maldives

Almost one in ten even admitted to booking a holiday to a particular destination in the hope of appearing younger or more adventurous than they really are.

A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: ‘Getting older no longer means relaxing and taking it easy as it seems the older generation is more adventurous than ever.

‘Parents and grandparents are now listening to experiences of their children or grandchildren after returning from their holidays and dream of doing the same thing.

'But rather than sitting back and soaking up the stories through their young relatives, over-50s are now booking similar trips themselves so they have their own adventurous tales to tell.

‘We’ve seen a rise in the number of over-50s booking trips to far-flung destinations once their children have left home and an increase in long-duration holidays, with some booking 21- and 42-night packages.

‘It seems that travelling the world is no longer reserved for school leavers or college students.’