BENGALURU: At 64 years, Lakshmi Venkatachalam has earned a cool new tag. The retired IAS officer is now a travel junkie. In the past three years, she has vacationed with her friends and covered five destinations including Myanmar, Japan and Gujarat.

“My full-time job never allowed me travel. Now I have the luxury of time which increased my propensity to travel. It’s a good occasion to bond with friends,” says Venkatachalam. Ask her which is the next destination on her wish list and she says, “There are a thousand locations on my mind. So much to see.”

Senior citizens today are breaking the stereotypes. They are not stationed at home with grand-children or watching television. They are celebrating their second innings with independent and extensive travelling.

Take the case of Bharati Jain (61) who recently returned from a month-long holiday in Australia and New Zealand. She was accompanied by her husband and brotherin-law. Ever since her husband retired and their daughters got married, they have made it an annual ritual to go on a holiday.

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“We meet new people and experience new cultures. Most of the overseas destinations are elderly-friendly with convenient bus ramps and walking paths. At my age, I am responsibility-free. Travel now is liberating,” says Jain, also an accounts professional at a real estate company.

Holiday-makers are rejoicing at this new-found segment. They have begun to curate silver packages. Car on disposal, a seasoned guide, dinner inclusions and relaxed itinerary are the tweaks made.

Vikram Ahuja of communitybased travel company Byond Travel, says, “According to a report by travel behaviour experts Frost & Sullivan commissioned by travel software provider Amadeus, the number of seniors travelling from India will jump from 1.3 million in 2014 to 7.3 million in 2020. A lot more children work overseas which has made seniors comfortable with the mindset to travel.”

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Seema Jaising of Che Experiences & Travels says, “Senior citizens have fear of missing out too. They want to visit culturally-rich destinations like Gujarat, Israel, Jordan and Morocco. For instance, a ceremonial Shabbat dinner in Israel is a must.”

Travel booking app Travkart has witnessed a 15% growth in the number of seniors travelling from India with 23% contribution from Bengaluru. It notes that senior citizens prefer travelling in a group for security and company.

According to cofounder Manheer Singh Sethi, Bengaluru stands strong in this scheme of things. “Bengalureans wish to spend considerable amount of time and money in travelling post-retirement now.”



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