In Singapore, travelling is not only reserved for fit singletons with few responsibilities on their back. Despite having young children or retiree parents, the sandwiched generation aspires to travel at least once yearly.
When it comes to travelling with different generations, travel agencies can help to organise fuss-free tours where there's no need to choose where to go and what to eat at every juncture. While younger folks might find this torture in itself, for families, it means fewer decisions to agonise over and quarrel about.
Plus, you get to meet other families and your retiree parents can also meet fellow senior citizens.
Which tour agency should you go to if you're looking for a fuss-free family holiday?
|Tour agent/organiser||Specialty||Price range|
|CC/RC||Short trips to neighbouring countries||$|
|CTC Travel||Tours in unique parts of China||$$|
|SA Travel||Lots of European tours to choose from||$$|
|WTS Travel||Destinations to Southeast Asian countries||$$|
|ASA Holidays||Adventurous destinations like Siberia and Iran||$$|
|Dynasty Travel||Ease of booking on their website and mobile app||$$$|
|Chan Brothers||Tour groups hosted by celebrities, DIY Holiday Farm||$$$|
Of course, do keep in mind that package prices are not all there is to your holiday expenditure. You have to take into account entrance fees to optional attractions and shopping budgets.
CC/RC ORGANISED TOUR PACKAGES
The nearest CC/RC is a good place to start if one is looking for cheap and easy trips to neighbouring countries or nearby islands. Since the target audience is mainly senior citizens to begin with, it will be a good chance for people of that age group to mingle and make friends.
Furthermore, the prices are very affordable. A 2D1N Malacca or Batam guided trip is less than $200 per person, inclusive of return transport and 4-star accommodation.
A 3D2N Cameron Highland or Kuantan guided trip would cost a little more but Singaporean citizens and PRs enjoy a subsidised rate. These trips aren't always available and don't happen often so keep a look out for it and sign up quickly when it's rolled out!
The recent trips offered by CC/RC are durian tours at Johor Bahru. Costs are typically $65 for adults and $35 for children (half price compared to some tour agencies) and include return transport, a durian buffet lunch, a shopping trip and dinner. With durians reaching prices as high as $50+ for a box for Mao Shang Wang, the trip price is worth it even there was only the free flow durian portion!
CTC Travel has a stronger focus on trips in Asia, particularly unique tours to China destinations like Huangshan and Jiuzhaigou.
That said, there are trips venturing further to Finland or Turkey too. The prices are reasonable if you're happy to do without the fancy hotels although there is the option to top-up and upgrade to 5-star hotels.
CTC Travel allows you to customise your own trips if being herded into buses on a tight time frame is not your travel style. The more adventurous can get to explore the wild with CTC Travel's campervans or motorhomes trips.
If lazing around and gorging on good food is one's idea of a perfect holiday, there are 5 different cruises to choose from too.
CTC Travel also offers unique tours that are hosted by celebrities and radio DJs. It's really cheesy, but if you or your retired parents have a favourite celebrity, we can imagine what an experience it would be to have him/her as their tour guide.
Having read through the reviews on their Facebook page, it seems their tour leaders are dependable and knowledgeable. They go beyond their job scope to help out in the little things like carrying bags for the elderly, providing medication when someone is unwell and helping to serve meals so that everyone can get their food quickly. Based on that, it seems like young children and senior citizens will be well taken care of.
For families travelling with senior citizens who love the scenery and history of Europe, SA Tours offers a myriad of choices at very reasonable prices.
A 10-day Italy tour to 7 cities costs $1499 while an 11-day Western and Eastern Europe tour to 4 countries costs $1599. Reviews reveal that their tour guides offer great insights. SA Tours books their customers to Europe on Emirates flights and accommodation ranges from 4 to 5-star hotels depending on destination.
On top of the very reasonable prices, SA Tours often have promotions too.
WTS Travel offers a lot of destinations to Southeast Asian countries like Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, which sets them apart from the other agencies so far. Other destinations that are interesting include Maldives, Bhutan and Abu Dhabi.
With WTS Travel, one can choose between the "cost-saver" tours or "premium" tours. As the name explains, with cost-saver tours, you get a more affordable price in exchange for staying at 3, 4-star hotels and flying with an average airline. Family travellers who may prize comfort over cost can choose "premium" packages.
Similar to CTC Travel, you can also book your holiday on one of the 5 cruises with WTS Travel. WTS Travel has 15 outlets islandwide which makes it very convenient to consult with someone face to face.
Some unique destinations offered by ASA Travel are Nepal, Siberia, Caucasus and even Iran. These are pretty adventurous places even for young, single travellers.
Prices are quite competitive, comparable to the previous three mentioned and they offer quality airlines and accommodation types so families can travel in comfort.
ASA Travel also offers exclusive cruise tours like 16, 18 or 22-day Alaska cruise + Canadian Rockies. These are pretty pricey at $4,588 to $7,488 but the pictures sure look amazing. It could work as a dream retirement holiday.
Dynasty Travel has been around for almost 40 years and is well recognised as an award-winning agency. Their tour prices are on the high side, but you can go on your trip with a peace of mind knowing everything will be well taken care of.
It's great for families who need that added assurance by a company with good track record to ensure their comfort and enjoyment. To give an idea of how much it costs, an 11D8N Italy tour will be around $4,500 and an 11D9N New Zealand tour with farm stay will be around $5,288, before taxes.
Dynasty Travel is probably the most forward-looking in terms of embracing technology out of all the agencies. Their website and mobile app not only allows potential travellers to compare prices based on different departure dates and different airlines, it also allows them to book group tours and make payment online.
Although families may still prefer the traditional way of talking face-to-face with a staff at the travel agency, the online site can save you some time if you are familiar with Dynasty Travel and already know what you want.
Chan Brothers is another trusted name in Singapore like Dynasty Travel, having won several awards in the past years. In terms of comfort level, Chan Brothers probably offers one of the best. The agency typically flies their customers on Singapore Airlines, as long as the destination allows, and they arrange quality five-star hotels as accommodation.
They also offer the largest number of tours. Some exotic ones are like Israel, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Georgia, Armenia and Uzbekistan. Chan Brothers, similar to CTC Travel, have tours hosted by celebrities and radio DJs.
They offer a selection of celebrity tours so if one doesn't find their favourite DJ on CTC, one might find him/her on Chan Brothers instead. Another tour that's great for senior citizens is the D.I.Y Holiday farm where it's customisable and you can determine the travel type (very luxury, luxury, normal or budget) and the location.
If you can't decide, we suggest something like "a city with mountains". It sounds like it could be a great multi-generational holiday.
GOT SENIOR CITIZEN DISCOUNT?
At the time of writing, there weren't any specific senior citizen promotional tours going on at the agencies. However, there were Mother's Day and Father's Day special promotions for children to treat their parents on a holiday.
However, senior citizens can flash their identity card or passport to get a discount off entrance fees and local modes of transportation that are not included in the travel package.
DON'T FORGET TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT TRAVEL INSURANCE
It's important to be well insured for travels, especially for senior citizens who tend to have more vulnerable health conditions. Senior citizens falling ill right before the trip and not being able to get a refund or a postponement of trip is not uncommon. Worse, falling ill during the trip incurs high emergency medical costs.
Travel insurance is an optional item when booking tours with the agencies. Although they have tie-ups with insurance agencies and offer a more seamless experience of booking everything all at the same place, do some comparison research on MoneySmart to look for the best coverage and cost.
Note that buying travel insurance for senior citizens can be a tricky affair as many insurers reduce their coverage for travellers above 70 years old.
This article was first published in MoneySmart.