Travel, Leisure & Fun for South Valley Adults

Is an International Group Tour Right for You?

So you finally have the time to see the world, but wonder if going on a tour is something you should actually do.

If you can afford it, the opportunities are there. Several local travel agencies offer tours. Even the Visalia Chamber of Commerce organizes several international tours each year.

For those who feel the time is right to see the Holy Land, Traveler Journeys offers tours that include Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Greece.

"Our tours cover the Exodus through Sinai, Moses leading the tribes to the Promised Land, the Bible stories in Israel, and Paul's journeys in Greece," said Debbie Winsett of Traveler Journeys. "The itineraries for each tour are the same each year, with only minor changes, but we may offer just an Israel tour in one month and all the countries at another time. Travelers can choose to go to just Israel or they can add another country or more to their tour depending on time and financial resources."

But are the tours right for seniors?

"It depends on the tour but many of our travelers are seniors as they seem to have time and financial resources to go on these trips," said Winsett. "We keep seniors in mind as we are planning so they can do all the activities – assuming they are active and can walk up to three miles per day.

"Typically, our tours have about 70% seniors and the others are pastors or middle-aged people who want to pursue this spiritual journey," she added. "We don't take children as we want the travelers to choose to be on this journey and we also don't want the kids to disrupt the schedule, or be unhappy visiting museums and sites that may not catch their attention. The combination of ages makes it wonderful as each age group has a lot to share with the others."

The oldest traveler on Traveler Journeys tours is Norris Jernigan, who became 98 in June and has been on every one of their tours.

"He is already registered for 2024 and we are planning a 100th birthday celebration for him in Israel in June 2025," said Winsett. "One 78-year-old gentleman hiked all the way to the top of Mt. Sinai with a group a couple years ago and he was so glad he made it to the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments."

An effort is made to accommodate the special needs of seniors on the tours, said Winsett.

"We keep a moderate pace and if someone can't join us for a day due to illness, we let them stay in the hotel or on the cool bus, along with arranging transportation to wherever we are if they are ready to rejoin the group," she said. "We encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance to cover any medical needs that arise on the trips and the medical services in these countries are very good."

Seniors "do some fun things they otherwise wouldn't likely do," said Winsett, "like ride a raft down the Jordan River, soak in a hot spring, float on the Dead Sea, or get to the top of a mountain for sunrise."

So should people who don't get around easily go on an international tour?

"We do not encourage those with mobility issues to go on the tours," said Winsett. "These countries do not have ADA like in the U.S., so the terrain may not be suitable for everyone. Buses do not have wheelchair lifts and some sites do not have paths to accommodate wheeled transport.

"We walk about three miles per day – throughout the day, not all at once," she added. "We start before 8 a.m. and we finish by 6 p.m. We assess each person before encouraging them to register for the trip as we want everyone to enjoy it fully, but also not compromise the enjoyment of others."

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