Lee Atkinson
Photo by Bill McKinnon

They say that love and marriage go well together, but retirees and travel may be an even happier mix! Right now we know that many of our members will have guidebooks, atlases and apps at hand, planning their 2024 adventures both here and on foreign shores. So here’s a bumper travel special which includes tips from the savviest travellers we know.

We’ve spoken to Belinda Jackson, Travel Writer of the Year, Laura Waters, an experienced walker, Philip Engelberts, luxury travel expert, Lee Atkinson, road tripper and author, and Brett Mitchell who heads up Intrepid Travel.

We asked each of them five questions and gave them just five minutes to reply! Their collective wisdom is sure to inspire.

And if you are into deals, discounts and getting the absolute best value for your dollar, we’ve included some handy tips to help you do this as well.

Don’t just sit there – it’s time to start planning your next trip now!

Belinda Jackson
Travel writer, podcaster, adventurer

Belinda Jackson was awarded the prestigious Australian Society of Travel Writers top gong, the Travel Writer of the Year, in November 2023.

What was your favourite adventure last year?

It’s a toss-up between visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace, at Stratford-upon-Avon, and a sunrise swim in the pool at Banyan Tree AlUla, Saudi Arabia.  

Where will you travel in 2024?

Walking in Bhutan and the deserts of Oman are my big trips in the planning, I’m also hiking from Falls Creek to Hotham in north-eastern Victoria, which I’m super excited about.

Favourite affordable Australian getaway?

As a Melburnian, my holiday heart lives on the Mornington Peninsula, an hour from the city – you’ll find me on the beaches there, whatever the weather.

Favourite article you wrote last year?

My story about solo travel in Saudi Arabia, as I could share the voices of Saudi women in mainstream Australian media, voices we don’t often get to hear. 

Which adventure you are anticipating most in 2024?

A return to Oman, to wander through its crumbling mudbrick villages and heritage-listed fortresses.  

Belinda co-hosts The World Awaits weekly travel podcast: https://theworldawaits.au and more of her stories are collected here.

Laura Waters
Walker extraordinaire

Writer, author and speaker Laura Waters is based in Melbourne, but you’ll find her happily hiking in many other parts of the world.

What got you walking?

As a child, the tradition of Sunday family bushwalks gave me an appreciation for the great outdoors.

What makes you want to do more?

Nature is my happy place. There’s fresh air, beautiful scenery plus my mind slows down. It’s an active meditation.

Favourite walk in New Zealand?

The North Island’s Tongariro Crossing rates up there – a day-hike across surreal volcanic desert with lakes and mountains.

Favourite Australian walk?

The Breadknife and Grand High Tops walk in Warrumbungle NP (outback NSW) for its incredible volcanic spires, blades and bluffs.

How to prepare before you set out?

Choose a walk that suits your fitness and ability, carry water, snacks and appropriate clothing, and tell someone where you’re going.

Which walk you are anticipating most in 2024?

I’m heading to Gros Morne National Park in Canada and can’t wait to see its sheer mountains, fjord lakes and wildlife.

Laura’s book, Ultimate Walks and Hikes, Australia can be purchased through her website, 

Philip Engelberts
Luxury travel expert

As founder and principal of PEPR Agency, no one knows luxury travel and cruising better than Philip.

What was your favourite adventure last year?

I was privileged to sail with a dozen likeminded international guests on the fabulous Aqua Blu (a bit like your rich uncle’s superyacht) from Flores via Komodo to Bali – epic diving and snorkelling!

Any hints for cruise lovers

There REALLY is a ship and a cruise experience for literally everyone, ask your friends or your travel agent about what might work for you!

Favourite affordable Australian getaway?

A friends-away weekend in a cute cottage cycling the Riesling Trail in South Australia’s iconic Clare Valley.

Favourite indulgence in Asia 

Late night drinks and nibbles at Mandarin Oriental’s iconic Bamboo Bar, celebrating its 60th birthday with live jazz.

Which adventure you are anticipating most in 2024?

A long-awaited adventure with dear friends in Bhutan, experiencing the world’s happiest nation.

Lee Atkinson
Road tripper 

Lee Atkinson is the number one expert on road trips in Australia and abroad, and author of numerous Hardie Grant guides to hitting the road.

Photo credit Bill McKinnon

Photo by Bill McKinnon

What do you love most about a road trip? 

It’s all about freedom and control in equal measure: go where you want, when you want, for as long as you want, without worrying about cancelled flights or lost luggage.

Favourite Aussie road trip? 

A lap of Tassie, packs in a lot of everything – fabulous food, scenery, art, history and wilderness – in one two-week trip.

Favourite international one? 

A lap of Iceland: epic scenery on a grand scale with waterfalls, volcanos, glaciers, mountains, hot pools and beaches.

How to prepare before you set out? 

Give your car a service, pack good maps and a sense of adventure.

Which driving adventure you are anticipating most in 2024? 

Exploring back roads in Australia, like the ‘Road to Nowhere’ on the west coast of Tasmania.

Ultimate Coastal Road Trips Australia, Hardie Grant Explore

Brett Mitchell 
Brett Mitchell is Intrepid Travel’s Managing Director Australia and New Zealand. Intrepid’s group tours offer many options to travel with like-minded adventurers.

Which was the most popular short trip (8-10 days) this past year?

The most popular short trip among passengers between the ages of 60 and 75 was our  Vietnam Express Southbound, coming in first, followed by our Cambodian Traveller, South Morocco Discovery, Premium Egypt, and Vietnam Express Northbound.

The most exciting new Intrepid destination for 2024

Intrepid has trips to a range of exciting destinations for travellers in 2024. A few examples are:

  • Premium Paris, Loire Valley & Normandy: Discover romance, lavish architecture, vast gardens and cultural history of France on this nine-day Premium adventure. On this trip, travellers can wander through historic chateaus, indulge in wine tasting on a boat on the Loire River and enjoy a luxurious stay in La Borde en Sologne Chateau and Spa – a castle surrounded by woodlands. 
  • Classic Canadian Rockies: Breathe in views of Lake Louise, Moraine, and Peyto Lake, and cruise along Maligne Lake. On this trip, travellers will walk along Athabasca Glacier, get a bird’s-eye view of Banff from the top of Sulphur Mountain, travel up and down the Icefields Parkway, and see all the natural highlights the Rockies offer. 
  • Premium South Korea:  Explore the culture and cuisine of South Korea from unique perspectives with a local leader who has all the insights. On this trip, travellers will wander through Gyeongbukgung Palace before heading to a local home for a private food lecture, enjoy a bibimbap in Jeonju and learn about the town’s rich art culture.

Any trips for singles that you particularly love?

We have seen an increase in the popularity of our Vietnam Express Southbound, Cambodian Traveller and South Morocco Discovery destinations amongst singles. There’s an optional singles supplement for travellers who want a room for themselves, making this an affordable option for those travelling solo.

Day tours or domestic short tours for Retirement Essentials members to try?

Intrepid offers a variety of both day tours and short domestic tours. Popular short domestic trips include our four-day Best of Uluru & Kings Canyon, six-day Highlights of Tasmania and five-day Best of South Australia

But wait, there’s more

Travelling frequently in retirement can really chew through your savings. We all love an adventure, but affordable adventures are even better. Here’s some ways of saving dollars when you go.

Deals and discounts

There are so many deals and discounts for mature travellers that it would be a Herculean task to try to cover them all. They change as well, of course. But there are some trusty standbys for Aussie travellers, and here we list some helpful offers for older travellers.

Concession cards

Those who have a Pension Concession Card or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card will confirm that these cards can save you thousands. The main savings, of course, are for non-travel necessities such as medical bills, pharmaceutical needs and energy bills. Savings on these essentials can contribute to more trips away! But these cards do also offer discounts on trains and other forms of transport across Australia.

Seniors Cards

Seniors cards are issued by the states and territories and offer very helpful discounts on all forms of public transport. All cards also have a state or territory-based discount directory through which many major travel companies offer savings for senior travellers.

National Seniors Association (NSA)

The NSA has a comprehensive offering of discounts on both domestic and international travel for members.

Where are you heading this year? 

Will you use your concession or seniors card? Do you have any useful money-saving tips you’re happy to share?