With the cost of everything soaring, the last thing anyone needs when they’re backpacking around Europe is to be hit with hefty data roaming charges that can leave a big hole in your wallet. But many Brits are still unaware that they’re racking up huge mobile bills when abroad, leaving them outraged when they get back home and discover they’ve been unknowingly clocking up data charges as they travelled.

Since Britain left the European Union, most mobile networks stopped providing free roaming in EU countries, which allow their citizens to make calls and use mobile data at no additional cost while in member states. But Brits may not know that when they’re in an EU nation and using data for such things as maps and messaging that they’re incurring charges that could add up to large sums.

According to a survey commissioned by mobile network Lebara UK, some Brits are paying up to £1,000 in roaming charges while on holiday in the EU. As many as one-third of British people holidaying in places like France, Spain and Italy were paying such enormous bills that were mostly made up of roaming charges, the survey found.

Other destinations where Brits were holidaying when they were being charged for mobile data roaming included Germany, Greece and Croatia. Respondents to the survey, carried out by OnePoll in early August and involving 2,000 people, also visited the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal.

What’s All the Roaming About?

When you’re backpacking around Europe, in towns and cities you don’t know, the most essential tool is right there in your pocket — allowing you to easily find hotels, bars, restaurants and clubs, and snap all the sights as you go. Sharing picturesque images with pals on social media is another must-do while abroad, making them green with envy that you’re on your travels in exciting places while they’re stuck at home.

So it’s no surprise that almost half of survey respondents (44%) said they used mobile data for social media use in EU countries — posting pics to Instagram, TikTok and other online platforms to keep their followers updated. A total of 42% of those who took part in the poll said they used mobile data for maps, so they could quickly locate the places they wanted to be. Others (28%) streamed music on their mobile devices; 20% used mobile data for gaming; and 16% were looking for love while abroad — not in pubs and clubs but via dating apps.

Avoiding Big Roaming Charges in the EU

Before you head overseas on your next big trip, check with your mobile network provider to see if free roaming in the EU is included in your package, or if there are extra charges. Even if you have to pay more, small sums can quickly add up when you’re downloading, streaming, scrolling or searching on your phone.

For those unlucky enough to have no free EU roaming, they may want to consider getting a SIM-only deal before they head away. These are available in the UK from networks like Lebara and they don’t tie you into any contracts and provide the amount of EU data roaming you’re likely to need.

So when you get to your destination, swap out your usual SIM for your new one, giving you the freedom to roam like home. You can then enjoy your holiday without the worry of clocking up data charges as you travel and being landed with a massive bill when you get back that would certainly ruin the happy memories of those carefree European days.

Backpacking is for everyone. There’s no cut-off age. Even in your later senior years, you can enjoy incredible backpacking and hiking experiences with family members or groups of friends.

However, as you get older, you’ll undoubtedly start to notice that your body probably isn’t moving the way it once did. While that shouldn’t keep you from exploring the great outdoors, there are a few things you should keep in mind now that you may not have had to consider when you were younger.

Let’s take a look at some of the best backpacking tips for seniors so you can safely enjoy all of your backpacking experiences through your golden years.

1. Don’t Go Alone

While there’s something to be said for a solo hike, it can be risky for anyone. That risk becomes elevated as you get older. While planning and preparing are important, you can’t predict every little thing that might happen on the trail. You could lose some supplies, suffer an injury, or get lost somewhere.

While we’re living in a tech-forward world, digital devices don’t always work on the trail. Don’t rely on your smartphone to keep you “safe” on your own. Instead, plan your backpacking trips with other people.

2. Plan, Prepare, and Pack

Even if you can’t predict everything that will happen, it’s no excuse not to plan and prepare as much as possible. If you’re an avid backpacker, you probably have a mental checklist of everything you’ll need for the trail. However, it’s never a bad idea to double-check that you have everything you need and take into consideration any new items you should bring along just in case. Some of the basics include:

  • Hygiene products;
  • Appropriate clothing, extra items for changing weather, and proper shoes/boots;
  • Any prescription medications;
  • A first aid kit;
  • A communication device.

It’s also crucial to make sure you pack enough food and water. As we age, our energy levels tend to drop. Packing nutrient-dense snacks and water for backpacking will keep you satiated and hydrated throughout your hike and give you a boost of energy when you need it most. Integrating some extra vitamins and supplements into your daily routine even before the hike can also make a big difference for active senior hikers, so you don’t burn out on the trail.

3. Be Mindful of Your Body

No one likes to admit that they’re “feeling their age,” but it happens. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone when you’re planning a backpacking trip. Instead, choose to be mindful of your body. Ask yourself if you’re really up for a strenuous hike or camping trip.

How do you feel? Do you tire out quickly? Do you deal with aches and pains each day? If so, you might want to hold off on your trip until you’re able to build some stamina and train for it.

Even if you’re already on a backpacking adventure, check in with yourself frequently. Listen to your body when it tells you to take a break or slow down. While it can be tempting to push yourself to your own physical limits, that will only put you at a greater risk of injuring yourself.

4. Research Locations

It’s a good rule of thumb to do your research on any location you plan on hiking. This is not only a backpacking tip for senior hikers, but for all adventure seekers. Whether it’s a local spot or somewhere across the country, make sure you’re fully aware of things like:

  • Terrain;
  • Trail length;
  • Common obstacles;
  • Local wildlife;
  • Weather forecasts.

Continuing to do your research, especially when it comes to weather conditions, is crucial right up to the day of your hike. Knowing as much information as possible about your hiking location will make it easier to pack properly, and mentally and physically prepare yourself for what’s ahead.

5. Talk to Your Doctor

Dealing with pre-existing conditions on hikes is something older individuals must think about. Some of the most common health concerns for seniors include:

  • Respiratory diseases;
  • Balance issues;
  • Cognitive decline;
  • Heart disease.

If you have any underlying health conditions, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before heading out on a backpacking trip. They’ll let you know if it’s safe to do, and can help you prepare by refilling your medications and offering suggestions on how to stay healthy.

Even minor conditions shouldn’t be ignored. For example, you should treat dry eye before gearing up. Dry eyes can cause a sensitivity to light and make your eyes feel like they’re burning. That’s the last thing you want when you’re spending all day outside. Taking care of these small-scale issues before you go will keep you comfortable, safe, and healthy on your hike.

Backpacking Tips for Seniors – Our Takeaway

As you age, your needs change. No matter how many times you’ve been backpacking in your life, don’t ignore those needs. Your main priority should always be to keep yourself safe and healthy, so you can continue to enjoy backpacking for many years. Keep these backpacking tips for seniors in mind as you plan and prepare for your next trip, and you’ll feel better about it every step of the way.

People go backpacking for any number of reasons. The genre really got off the ground in the late 1960s when hippies headed east in search of spiritual enlightenment, and by the 1980s, taking a year off to explore Australia or Latin America became almost a rite of passage.

Recent years have seen the rise of more niche backpacking trips, including long-distance hiking, visiting historic sites such as battlefields and especially sports. Every year, for example, thousands of English cricket fans follow their team to exotic destinations such as the West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, combining their sporting passion with exploring distant lands on the cheap.

The same goes for hardcore horse racing fans. The Sport of Kings boasts a long history not just in the US and the UK but around the world, and fans are willing to travel long distances to see the best races while at the same time poking around the towns and cities which play host to them.

We’ve picked three examples of great travel locations which boast classic horse racing along with plenty of other things to do and see to keep backpackers occupied during their short stay there.

Lexington

Lexington Kentucky, a famous destination for horse racing fans

Let’s start close to home and Lexington, Kentucky. Imagine combining history and horses in one short trip! They have been distilling bourbon, a type of corn whisky which takes its name from a French royal family, in the region for almost 150 years now, and Lexington sits at the very heart with a large number of distilleries to visit. The Buffalo Trace Distillery on the Kentucky River is one of the oldest in the land and even stayed open during prohibition. As for history, take time to visit Mary Todd Lincoln House, one-time home to the wife of Abraham Lincoln, before a peaceful stroll around the peaceful Lexington Cemetry, home to three lakes, 179 species of birds and more than 200 types of trees as well as being the final resting place of many a famous Kentuckian.

Then there are the horses! Whether it’s horse farms, museums, studs or the world-famous Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, in nearby Louisville, the equine world runs through the Kentucky DNA. Closer to Lexington itself is Keeneland which frequently plays host to the Breeder’s Cup, one of the biggest events on the US racing calendar. This year, Medina Spirit will be hoping to improve on second place in 2021, and put the disappointment of Ketucky Derby disqualification in the

Melbourne

Melbourne's Central Station

Melbourne’s Central Station

As mentioned earlier, there is a long tradition of backpacking in Australia. The vast distances involved, the natural beauty and the relative ease of getting around continue to entice travelers from around the world looking for an adventurous or sporting break. As the capital of the state of Victoria, Melbourne’s cosmopolitan population has left its mark on the city’s dining options, with Greek, Italian, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants proving to be very popular. Then there are its natural attractions, including the spectacular Great Ocean Road with its beaches and bays as well as the Twelve Apostles, stunning rock formations jutting up from the ocean.

But Melbourne is also sports-daft! It hosts the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Australian Open in tennis and its own local games; Australian Rules Football often attracts attendances in excess of 60,000, while the official website Visit Victoria lists many other orthodox and less orthodox activities. But everything comes to a halt on one day in November when the Melbourne Cup hits Flemington. With many of the Covid-19 restrictions now behind us, race organizers can be looking forward to crowds of 80-90,000 returning for the biggest horse racing event in the Southern Hemisphere. And those crowds will be witnessing the favorite in the Ladbrokes horse racing odds, Loft, attempting to secure the $4.4 million prize. Whilst his stable will be expecting the win, the Melbourne Cup often serves up a shock, especially in 2009 when Shocking won, and it is this uncertainty which makes the race so special.

Ascot

Check out some horse racing near historic Windsor Castle

Check out some horse racing near historic Windsor Castle

Ascot, a small, nondescript town just outside of London, sits in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, and it is that regal link which explains its worldwide fame. A short drive up the road sits the impressive Windsor Castle, nigh on 1,000 years of British history lies behind its thick walls and the expansive Windsor Great Park, originally laid out as a private hunting ground for the folks in the castle but now a delightful place for a walk. On the opposite bank of the River Thames is the elite Eton College, where future politicians and inheritors of royal seats receive their expensive education.

Ascot comes alive every June for the Royal Meeting, one of the highlights of the British social calendar. Britain’s pomp and ceremony vie for attention with the racing as each day of the meet starts with the Royal Procession when the Royal Family arrive and take their place in the exclusive Royal Enclosure. But away from the pageantry and the dressing up, the meet offers up some of the finest races in the world, including the prestigious Gold Cup and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and the most budget-friendly place to watch these races is in the Windsor Enclosure, which provides a more informal environment. After witnessing the British all dressed up, head back to Windsor and enjoy a meal on the Thames as the sunsets on another exciting day out.


Backpacking started off as a cheap form of travel where interacting with local communities was just as important as visiting a museum. Themed trips such as those mentioned above continue that fine tradition.

 

The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights is one of nature’s greatest miracles. An extraordinary phenomenon, it lights up the night sky with a vibrant, electric light show of vivid greens, purples, and blues. It is an unforgettable experience, and one that should be experienced at least once by anyone who loves to travel, even if it means forgoing a beach vacation just once.

For families with kids, the Northern Lights is a great experience. It is a truly remarkable, unique thing to see, conjuring up the magic, drama, and power of nature, and cannot fail to amaze even the most jaded and tetchy of younger ones.

That said, planning a Northern Lights family trip does come with its fair share of challenges. The Aurora Borealis appears at night, and is best seen when there is no moon. This tends to mean staying up late, and waiting patiently with nothing much else to do until the Lights put in an appearance. Plus, as it is (almost) always found in the cold, frozen north of the planet, your little ones will have to put up with icy temperatures while they wait. This can lead to boredom and the odd tantrum, even from the most patient of kids.

The key to planning an amazing family trip to see the Northern Lights therefore requires a little planning, and one of the most important things to do is pick the right place to look for them. So to get you started, here are four of the best places to watch the Northern Lights as a family.

Alaska

Cruising to Alaska is a great way to see the Northern Lights with kids. For starters, an Alaska cruise is an incredibly family-friendly experience, with loads of entertainment and activity to keep them busy on board, and loads of amazing wildlife and dramatic landscapes to see ashore. Plus, Alaska’s vast wilderness is one of the best places in the world to view the Aurora Borealis…and what’s not to love about seeing nature’s greatest light show from the comfort of a cruise ship?

Tromso, Norway

Aurora Borealis in Tromso, Norway

Aurora Borealis in Tromso, Norway

When it comes to seeing the Northern Lights as a family trip, Tromso is an absolutely classic destination. Known as the capital of the Arctic, Tromso is a charming city, and its position on the Gulf Stream means that it tends to be a little warmer than other viewing destinations, which will keep the kids happy. Most importantly, Tromso is right at the center of the aurora oval, the area where the lights can be seen, so you have the best possible chance of seeing this extraordinary phenomenon in all its glory.

Rovaniemi, Lapland

Possibly the best Northern Lights family trip location, Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland would be worth a visit even if the Aurora Borealis didn’t exist! Set deep in the Arctic Circle, the town has a great claim to be called ‘the home of Santa Claus’, and you can visit Saint Nick’s workshop at the Santa Claus Village. Outside of town, the Arctic Snow Hotel offers astonishing glass igloos where you can stay and watch the Lights from inside, with a 360 view. You can also take a snowmobile adventure from the Aurora Emotion viewing station, which is guaranteed to thrill older kids.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Northern Lights in Iceland, perfect for a family adventure

Northern Lights in Iceland, perfect for a family trip

Exciting Viking history, ice caves, bubbling thermal caves, AND the Northern Lights? What’s not to love? Reykjavik offers a slightly different Aurora experience, giving you the chance to stay in a city (with all the associated comforts and things for kids to do during the day), while also viewing one of nature’s most beautiful experiences!

Backpacking is a great way to stay active without getting bored — every trail provides something new and exciting. However, it’s easy to burn thousands of calories each day when you’re on the trail, especially if you’re taking on rough terrain.

Needless to say, most backpackers recognize the importance of staying properly fueled. However, if you are backpacking with dietary restrictions, that might seem easier said than done. Things like food allergies or sensitivities can make it hard to get the calories you need to keep going on a long hike.

Thankfully, it’s not impossible to get the right nutrients and fuel your body in healthy, effective, and efficient ways. Learning how to do so can make each experience more fulfilling and enriching, so you can focus on your surroundings instead of your grumbling stomach. Let’s take a look at how you can maintain your strength and energy on long backpacking hikes, even if you have to deal with dietary restrictions.

Plan the Perfect Trip

Packing snacks for the trail can be easy enough, even if you go with the same “stand by” snacks every time. However, unless you’re camping after a hike, the most important way to keep yourself properly fueled is by eating a healthy meal before you hit the trail and after you’re done.

So, it’s a good rule of thumb to choose backpacking locations that are surrounded by places that fit your dietary needs. For example, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’ll be easier for you to find healthy, filling options in trails close to cities that cater to plant-based diets. Some of the best areas in the country for plant-based tourists include:

  • Portland, Oregon
  • Austin, Texas
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Chicago, Illinois

Backpacking should be fun and exciting. It’s all about exploration and discovery. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the perks of “city life” while you’re on your trip. While backpacking, search for local restaurants that cater to your dietary needs, and you’ll have an easier time fueling up and recharging.

Understand Backpacking Food Basics

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or you’re hitting the trail for the first time, you probably understand how important it is to have enough food with you. However, far too many backpackers make the mistake of not packing enough nutrient-dense items. There are some essential rules to follow when it comes to backpacking food basics, including:

  • Choosing shelf-stable ingredients;
  • Packing plenty of lightweight food, including freeze-dried and dehydrated items;
  • Packing calorie-dense items;
  • Understanding cooking times.

The more you understand how to pack your food efficiently, the easier it will be to pack snacks and meals that meet your caloric needs and take your dietary restrictions into account while backpacking.

Yes, we suggested meals. Sometimes, when you have restrictions that require certain ingredients to be eliminated, small snacks won’t cut it. Thankfully, there are plenty of pre-packaged and even stoveless meals you can take with you on the trail. Nowadays, you can find vegan options and gluten-free options, as well as pre-made meals that will offer warnings and disclaimers about any ingredients that may cause allergic reactions.

It can take a bit of time, research, and even some trial and error to find pre-packaged meals and snacks that meet your needs and taste great. Don’t be afraid to try different brands and options, and you’ll eventually find what works best for you.

Create Your Own Snack Hacks

While there are plenty of pre-packaged snacks and meals on the market, sometimes the easiest way to meet your dietary needs is to make your own. You know your restrictions better than anyone. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to ingredients.

Plus, when you’re in charge of preparing your own snacks and meals, you can choose flavors you love, and you won’t get bored on the trail. Having something delicious and nutritious to look forward to can keep you motivated and energized long before you dig in.

It can take a bit of creativity to prepare meals and snacks, depending on your dietary restrictions. For example, many people take nuts or trail mix with them while backpacking. Nuts are a great source of protein and can provide a quick energy boost. However, if you have a nut allergy, those pre-packaged mixes aren’t an option.

Thankfully, you can create your own with things like seeds, dried fruits, and different spices. Not only will making your own snacks allow you to leave out ingredients you can’t have, but you’ll also be in control of sugar content, fat, and flavor.

You don’t have to be a pro in the kitchen to create snacks and meals that meet your restrictions and taste great. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods and flavors. It can end up saving you money and keeping you properly fed and fueled on your trip.

There’s no reason dietary restrictions should get in the way of your backpacking goals. Keep these tips in mind to stay safe, healthy, and energized on the trail.