Travel

The stars of 'travel guides' open up about travelling after 50

Kevin Moloney and Janetta Stones, of Travel Guides on Channel 9, have become famous for discovering the world's hidden gems and sharing their unforgettable escapades with us all.

In this exclusive interview, we step into their world as they generously share their most coveted travel hacks, reveal invaluable tips for travellers after 50, and grant us a glimpse into their awe-inspiring adventures.

1. How and when did you develop your passion for     travel? 

We both had careers in the travel and airline industry, in fact, that’s where we met back in the eighties (no one under 50 really would remember TAA). When you work for an airline, it’s natural for the travel bug to bite hard and it leaves an itch that can never be scratched. We’d already had more stamps in our passport than a diplomat before we met and together, our wanderlust has never abated.

2. What advice would you give to our readers to get the most out of our traveling in this new stage of life?

It’s interesting to note that with Travel Guides, we never know where we’re going until we get to the airport. We could end up in Amsterdam or Adelaide! It’s a procedure that goes against our later-in-life travel philosophy of putting as much planning into a trip as possible but Travel Guides is not normal travel. We believe the more planning and research we can do, the better. A friend once gave us a particular piece of advice that’s perfect for older travellers. He said: “Don’t try to do everything in one day. Plan out to see something, do something or experience something then take it easy for the rest of the day.You’re not in your twenties anymore and your energy levels can be tested.  It’s good advice and we stick to it now.

3. What has been the most rewarding aspect of travelling after 50?

Without wanting to sound privileged or entitled, older travellers usually have a few more disposable dollars to splash on a holiday. We’ve all done our budget travel, staying in ordinary accommodation and accessing cheap airline deals when we were younger and not as comfortable. Older people also have the available time to stretch a holiday which can allow flexibility to access specials and last minute deals. Now is the time to utilise all the hacks and tips we’ve picked up over the years and put them to good use.

4. What are some underrated destinations that you think should be on everyone’s bucket list?

Well, we never use the term ‘bucket list”. We don’t consider travel as something that requires a list to be ticked off. There’s no point in just visiting a country for the sake of fulfilling lists. We have favourite destinations and ones that we still want to visit. We love the big ticket cities of London, Paris and New York but we also get just as much thrill from secondary destinations that we either discover or are recommended. We give Croatia a big tick. We’ve been there a couple of times and the beauty of the countryside is only eclipsed by the magnificent ports along the Dalmatian Coast. A 7 night cruise from Split is a perfect escape. Travel Guides took us to Finland last year and we ventured up to the Arctic Circle. Sensational.

5. In your opinion, what are some of the most important considerations for over 50 travellers when it comes to planning trips, ensuring comfort, and maintaining health and well-being while on the road?

This is where talking to other like-minded travellers and researching is invaluable. We love cruising and have been on nearly 40 of them. We know what we like – in two words, small ships! Sometimes, if the cruise line is right, we’ve selected a cruise not based on the destinations or itinerary but purely on the shipboard experience. We understand that cruising is not for everybody but we highly recommend it for over 50s travellers. There is a personal security associated with traveling on ships – the risks for older travellers are minimised and as seniors represent the largest part of the cruising market, the cruise lines make it their mission to provide as many appropriate facilities and comforts. But again, do your research. Our hot tip as far as cruising goes is to plan a European holiday around something like a river cruise, bookending it with land experiences.

We’d also recommend using a travel agent. They have much more expert knowledge than us and also have access to deals and travel products that are not released to the general market via normal channels. Agents also provide that level of comfort and security we all need.

6. What have been some eye-opening or transformative encounters with local communities during your travels that you think our readers would appreciate hearing about?

There have been so many times on Travel Guides where we’ve been able to connect with the local customs and spirit. We find markets to be the best pace to experience ground level hospitality. Cappadocia in Turkey for one where we carried on a conversation with a couple of traders - we spoke no Turkish and they spoke not a word of English but somehow, we communicated. There was also a very welcoming experience in Vanuatu, drinking kava with the village chief and being spontaneously entertained by a mass of smiling kids with their unbridled joy for life. We try to avoid what is labeled “cultural shows”. The theatre quality to most of them lacks authenticity and passion.

7. What are your top tips for getting the most out of your money while traveling?

Unashamedly act your age and never forget to take advantage of seniors discounts – you’ve earned it and there are so many deals around the world where you can snag a deal or discount just for being whatever age you are. Who would have thought that there are half price ferry rides around Lake Como for seniors. You just have to ask. And if you really want to blow your entire travel budget in one fell swoop, just buy a coffee at one of the restaurants in Venice’s St Mark’s Square. Always go around the corner of tourist hotspots and look for a restaurant that doesn’t have a menu in English. It will be better, more authentic and invariably cheaper.   

Resist the urgency to buy souvenirs. What looks great on the shelf of a shop in Cape Town may end up looking better on a table in your next garage sale. Replace souvenirs with memorable experiences.Also, just remember that when you’re traveling in developing countries, don’t be too mean with bargaining. What we spend on a holiday could be a lifetime’s income for the person you’re trying to get a ‘good deal’ from. Karma exists in the travel world.

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