People over seventy reveal their travel regrets

Posted on 9 May 2023 By Tsoku Maela

According to a new survey from adventure travel company Explore Worldwide, the majority of people aged 70 or over harbour “travel regrets”, with 62% saying there is somewhere in the world they regret never having visited.

Picture: Supplied

The countries mentioned frequently in the over 70s’ travel regrets include Australia, New Zealand, the US, Japan and Canada. But when looking at specific travel experiences, one in three people over 70 say they regret never having seen the Northern Lights, making it the travel experience most people regret never doing.

Other experiences older travellers regret never having experienced include seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza, visiting Machu Picchu or missing out on an African safari.

Travel regrets of the over 70s

Travel Experience

% of Over 70s Who Regret Never Doing This

Seeing the Northern Lights


Visiting the Maldives


Seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza


Visiting Machu Picchu


Seeing Niagara Falls


Visiting the Taj Mahal


Walking the Great Wall of China


Seeing the Petra ruins in Jordan


An African safari


Driving a Californian road trip


Five destinations the older generation regrets not having experienced the most

1. Seeing the Northern Lights

Charged with cultural and scientific significance, as well as being breathtakingly pretty and only appearing in certain locations, it’s very easy to see why the allure of the magical Northern Lights takes the top spot as the travel experience most people regret never having seen. The beautiful light displays need the right conditions to be admired, which is what makes them all the more captivating. They occur in regions close to Earth’s magnetic poles, such as Iceland, Norway, Alaska and Canada.

2. Visiting the Maldives

The epitome of tropical paradise islands, the over-70s who were surveyed regretted never having felt white sand between their toes in the Maldives. The nation boasts unique natural attractions, what with it sitting on top of a vast underwater mountain range, as well as its coral reef, rich green lagoons and beautiful and abundant marine wildlife.

3. Seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza

One of the most iconic and famous monuments on the planet, the Pyramids at Giza are a showcase of incredible ancient engineering, set against a striking desert backdrop. Whether it’s for their historical significance as tombs for bygone pharaohs, their mystical allure as treasure troves filled with ancient bounty and curses, or simply to marvel at the incredible feat of manual construction – many people regret never having gone to see the Pyramids at Giza.

4. Visiting Machu Picchu

Built in the 15th century, Machu Picchu is one of the few surviving examples of Inca architecture, made all the more special due to its lofty location on a Peruvian mountain ridge overlooking the Urubamba River. the original stone terraces, walls and buildings were created without the use of iron tools or mortar, making it another amazing human feat of construction. Thanks to the hike needed to view the site, it’s a popular travel experience that rewards adventurers with spectacular views and an insight into ancient culture.

5. Seeing Niagara Falls

The three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls are one of Earth’s stunning natural wonders. As it’s deemed a romantic setting, couples often honeymoon in this special location, but it’s a hugely popular travel experience for anyone who wants to marvel at the sheer power of mother nature – with millions of gallons of water cascading over the falls every minute. The older generation regrets not having seen Niagara Falls first hand, whether from viewing platforms or a boat or even a helicopter aerial tour.

Other experiences the over 70s said they regretted not having done include:

  • ‘Seeing Japan in the Spring – to see the cherry blossoms’
  • ‘I would have loved to visit the Italian Lakes.’
  • ‘More long-distance train travel, like The Ghan.’
  • ‘Seeing the fjords in Norway.’
  • ‘Visiting New York and seeing a Broadway show.’
  • ‘Driving Route 66.’

However, the same survey reveals that people in their mid-life (aged 40-55) expressed a strong desire to see more of the world in the next decade or two. The most popular travel “hope” for mid-lifers is seeing the Northern Lights, followed by a visit to the Maldives. A massive 85% of mid-life people say they hope to visit a new country, with Italy, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the US coming out as the most popular places that mid-lifers want to visit in the next 10 to 20 years.

Travel Experience

% of 40-55 Year Olds Who Hope to Do This

Seeing the Northern Lights


Visiting the Maldives


Lying on a beach in the Mediterranean


Seeing Niagara Falls


Going to Disney Land/Disney World


A Californian road trip


Doing a European cruise


Partying in Las Vegas


An African safari


Great Pyramids of Giza


Taj Mahal


Gondola Ride in Venice


Walking the Great Wall of China


Visiting Machu Picchu


Trekking the Inca Trail


Michael Edwards, Managing Director at Explore says, ‘By sharing the travel hopes and regrets of different generations, we hope to inspire people to book that special adventure they’ve been dreaming about
. The biggest travel regrets include never seeing natural and historical wonders, such as the Northern Lights, Machu Picchu or the Maldives islands. These natural and historical wonders help connect us to our planet and our past, something that becomes more important to us as we grow older.  

‘We’ve just launched a new map (inspired by Sir David Attenborough), which allows you to plot your travel history onto an interactive map, and places you still want to explore. With our research showing that so many people aged over 70 regret not having visited more of the world, we hope our new map encourages travellers to keep on discovering new things.’

For the full survey findings and to play with the travel hopes map, visit:

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