HOLIDAYS for the older generation have long been associated with lazy lunches followed by an afternoon snooze in the sun.
Now it seems that men and women of a certain age are more likely to be found on a thrill- seeking vacation scaling mountains or clubbing in Ibiza, rather than playing bridge on the balcony.
A study, which looked at 1,200 holidaymakers over the age of 50, discovered that a growing number of people seek something challenging, with more than half choosing far-flung adventure-packed breaks such as hiking to the ancient city of Macchu Picchu in Peru or backpacking across America.
Another quarter are turning their backs on tour buses and opting to hang out at sunshine party destinations such as Ibiza or Las Vegas.
This emerging group of middle-aged thrill-seekers is driven by the phenomenon known as “holiday YOLO” – you only live once – and a fifth of those asked admitted they suffered from FOMO, or the fear of missing out, according to the research, which questioned a sample of British holidaymakers.
Having more free time and a larger disposable income as children have flown the nest are thought to be factors driving the over-50s to be more adventurous. Figures show that at this time of life, many couples have around £520 a month of disposable income to spend on a dream holiday, leisure activities and other luxuries.
Two-fifths said that having the spare cash prompted them to make the trips, as it was considerably more than they had in their 30s and 40s.
Being able to go wherever they want, whenever they want and for as long as they want has seen extended tours grow in popularity, with almost a third trying road trips and one in ten going backpacking.
Bob Atkinson, of TravelSupermarket, which commissioned the survey, said: “I love the fact that so many people are treating their advancing years as an opportunity to be spontaneous and adventurous with their holiday choices.
“And it’s clear that this is the one time in life when many have both the freedom to explore new destinations and experiences, along with the cash to fund it.
“So I believe it’s a great opportunity to rip up the rule book of family holidays, shake things up a bit and do something different.”
Sally Orr, from Walk the Walk – a breast cancer charity which organises events such as MoonWalk Scotland, as well as fundraising active holidays – said they had noticed an increase in the number of women and men looking to take part.
Ms Orr, 59, said: “We are seeing an increasing number of people wanting an adventure, looking for a challenge to push themselves further than they’ve gone before. There is also the health aspect. Say for someone who has signed up to walk to Macchu Picchu, they need to train. Being in your 50s or 60s isn’t considered being old anymore. Whereas once it was looked at as the blue-rinse brigade, people are looking and feeling younger.”
A spokesman for Age Scotland said: “Today’s older generations are refusing to conform to outdated stereotypes about what they should, and shouldn’t, be doing. Their interests are as diverse as any other age group, and for those who enjoy a decent income and good health, the opportunities have never been greater.”