What does the UK want to do on their retirement holiday?

Travel trends for the over-55s

7 minutes

You’ve decided to spend big on a dream holiday after your retirement, but how do you go about it and where should you go? We look at the statistics around over-55s travel and talk to travel experts and financial experts about being prepared and funding it with your pension.

  • Over-55s are going on more solo holidays
  • Staycations remain popular among this age group
  • Retirees are using their extra time to take longer trips abroad

Where will your retirement take you?

For many people, retirement means the chance to realise their dream. According to a recent study by Stannah, almost a third of retirees (31%) have achieved a lifelong ambition since retiring [1].

Travelling the world is high on the list for these dreamers, with 14% of those who achieved their goal saying globetrotting was their main ambition [2].

You can read about one retiree who used their retirement fund to go on a once in a lifetime trip in our article about surprising pension investments and retirement activities.

In this article, we explore why retirement could be the best time to take a big trip abroad, with stats on where retirees like to travel to and interviews with a few holidaymakers asking why they chose their destination.

Over-55s are going solo

Those nearing or over retirement age are also enjoying the chance to travel on their own terms. The Association of British Travel Agents’ (ABTA) Holiday Habits Report data 2018 revealed that over-55s are the age group most likely to go on a solo holiday [3].

‘The last few years have seen a noticeable increase in older travellers going on holiday by themselves, with the majority of 55-64 year olds saying they value the opportunity to do what they want,’ observed an ABTA spokesperson. ‘Those over the age of 75 are the most likely of any age group to travel by themselves as one in five of them have taken a solo trip this year. Travel companies are responding to this growing demand by offering a diverse range of options for people booking by themselves.’

However, in many cases solo travel is actually a bit of a misrepresentation, as holiday makers are often meeting likeminded new friends.

‘Many solo travellers join groups, such as escorted tours for people travelling on their own, sometimes to really far-flung places like Uzbekistan,’ explains Debbie Marshall, managing director of Silver Travel Advisor. ‘Solo holiday companies also book whole properties, so that travellers can all stay in one place.’

A large reason for this growing trend is that travel companies have improved, as has the access people have to their travel products online.

‘Solo travellers are booking with secure tour operators that offer security and extra services, like a pick up from home,’ adds Debbie. ‘But what’s almost more important is that solo travellers are so much braver now. There are peer groups of people who encourage each other to do more, to be more adventurous.’

However, travel companies could still improve. An industry report by Silver Travel Advisor discovered that 58% of people aged 50+ felt that travel companies weren’t making adequate provision for single people.

Over-65s are enjoying the UK

In a recent survey, 43% of UK residents aged 65+ said that they wanted to spend more time in the UK – the highest percentage of any age group.

Affordability is less of a factor in the decision for people aged 55 and over than it is for almost all other age groups (except 18-24 year-olds). Instead, explains Debbie, it’s more a case of security.

‘Mature travellers are concerned about currency exchange rates and extra paperwork, such as a new visa, and there’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment, so many are adopting a ‘wait and see’ policy,’ says Debbie. ‘As such, we expect to see more holidays in the UK next year.’

Mature tourists are taking longer trips

Tourists aged 65 and over are more likely to go on longer trips and tours than other age group, according to European Commission statistics. Whereas 15-64 year-olds, on average, take trips that are 5.8 nights long, tourists aged 65+ are staying for 6.6 nights, on average.

‘It makes sense to take your time and explore a place rather than rush around, to relax and absorb the atmosphere; retired folk have fewer limitations on their time,’ observes Clive Stacey, Managing Director of travel specialist Discover the World. ‘Also, when you combine a number of destinations together the cost of travel becomes expediently less, especially when travelling long-haul.

‘We find that many retirees have a list of places they want to visit and should a special offer come up, even at short notice, they are often prepared to travel,’ he adds.

Retirement is a great time to take a long holiday abroad, and many people approaching retirement plan a trip to look forward to after they leave work. You could even take out a lump sum tax free to fund your trip, just make sure you balance what you take out with what you need to maintain a steady income for the rest of your retirement. Read our article on taking out your lump sum for more information.

Many people approaching and at retirement are taking advantage of their extra time to go on longer solo trips to far-flung places. Over-55 solo travellers have become braver, and holiday makers are encouraging each other to go on adventures. However, the current climate of uncertainty is making some consider a trip closer to home.


[1] Stannah Stairlifts 2018, Life Begins at… Retirement,