The travel experiences that people aged over 70 regret never doing

From seeing the Northern Lights to visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza, the travel experiences people aged over 70 regret not doing revealed

  • The list came from a survey of Brits – the Northern Lights got 39% of the vote
  • Sixty-two per cent say there is a place in the world they regret not visiting 
  • READ MORE: Inside mainland Britain’s most remote hotel, Garvault House

The travel experiences that people aged over 70 regret not having done when they were younger have been revealed – and it’s seeing the Northern Lights that’s number one.

Nearly two-fifths (39 per cent) of Britons over 70 say they regret missing out on watching the aurora borealis light up the sky.

The experience is followed in joint second place by visiting the Maldives, seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza, visiting Machu Picchu and seeing Niagara Falls – 19 per cent of older people regret not experiencing each of these travel highlights.

Visiting India’s Taj Mahal (3rd, 18 per cent) is also something that the over 70s are disappointed to have missed out on.

The ranking is based on a new survey by the adventure travel company Explore Worldwide, which found that the majority of people aged 70 or over harbour ‘travel regrets’.

The travel experiences that people aged over 70 regret not having done when they were younger have been revealed – and it’s seeing the Northern Lights that’s number one 

In conducting the study, the travel brand surveyed more than 500 Britons aged 70 or over, asking them about the travel experiences around the world that they wish they had experienced.

Other top-ranking experiences that over 70s wished they hadn’t missed out on are walking the Great Wall of China (4th, 17 per cent), seeing the ruins of Petra in Jordan (joint 5th, 13 per cent) and doing an African safari (joint 5th, 13 per cent).

Doing a road trip in California (6th, 11 per cent) is another activity that people say they wish they had experienced.

Outside of the top 10, further travel experiences that over 70s travellers regret missing out on is going to Japan to see the springtime cherry blossom, visiting the Italian Lakes, seeing the Norwegian fjords and driving Route 66.


1. Seeing the Northern Lights – 39 per cent

2= Visiting the Maldives – 19 per cent 

2= Seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza – 19 per cent

2= Visiting Machu Picchu – 19 per cent 

2= Seeing Niagara Falls – 19 per cent

3. Visiting the Taj Mahal – 18 per cent

4. Walking the Great Wall of China – 17 per cent

5= Seeing the Petra ruins in Jordan – 13 per cent

5= An African safari – 13 per cent

6. Driving a Californian road trip – 11 per cent

Source: Explore Worldwide



Nineteen per cent of the older generation regret not seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza

Failing to see Machu Picchu in Peru, pictured, is a major travel regret for over 70s 

Failing to visit New York and seeing a Broadway show is another regret, as is doing more long-distance train travel, such as journeying on The Ghan railway line in Australia.

In general, 62 per cent say there is somewhere in the world they regret never having visited, with Australia, New Zealand, the U.S, Japan, and Canada among the countries mentioned the most frequently. 

Elsewhere in the study, more than 500 Britons aged between 40 to 55 years old were surveyed to discover the travel experiences that they hope to achieve in the next decade or two.

It found that people in their mid-life harbour a strong desire to see more of the world in the years to come.

The most popular travel ‘hopes’ for mid-lifers mirror the regrets of the older generation – seeing the Northern Lights is No.1 (46 per cent) followed by a visit to the Maldives (2nd, 35 per cent).

After that it’s lying on a beach in the Mediterranean (3rd, 33 per cent); seeing Niagara Falls (4th, 30 per cent); going to Disneyland or Disney World (5th, 29 per cent); doing a Californian road trip (6th, 26 per cent); doing a European cruise (7th, 24 per cent); and partying in Las Vegas (8th, 23 per cent).

Nearly one-fifth of over 70s regret never holidaying in the Maldives (above) 

Not seeing Niagara Falls (above) is a major regret for 19 per cent of Britons aged over 70 

The rest of the list comprises doing an African safari (9th, 21 per cent); seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza (10th, 20 per cent); visiting the Taj Mahal, doing a gondola ride in Venice and walking the Great Wall of China (joint 11th, six per cent); and visiting Machu Picchu (12th, 15 per cent) and trekking the Inca Trail (13th, nine per cent).

A massive 85 per cent of mid-life people say they hope to visit a new country, with Italy, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S coming out as the most popular places that mid-lifers want to visit in the next ten to twenty years.

Commenting on the survey’s findings, 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, like the Northern Lights, Machu Picchu or the Maldives islands. These natural and historical wonders help to connect us to our planet and our past, something that becomes more important to us as we grow older.’ 

He continues: ‘We’ve just launched a new map (inspired by David Attenborough) which allows you to plot your travel history onto an interactive map, as well as plotting the 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 see the interactive map, visit


Seeing the Northern Lights

Explore Worldwide says: ‘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 seeing. 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.’

Visiting the Maldives

‘The epitome of tropical paradise islands, the over 70s who were surveyed regretted never having felt the white sand under their toes in the Maldives,’ says Explore Worldwide. It continues: ‘The nation boasts some 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.’

Seeing the Great Pyramids of Giza

Explore Worldwide says: ‘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.’ The travel company continues: ‘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.’

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,’ says Explore Worldwide. It continues: ‘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 which rewards adventurers with spectacular views and an insight into ancient culture.’

Seeing Niagara Falls

‘The three waterfalls which make up Niagara Falls are a stunning natural wonder of the Earth,’ says Explore Worldwide. The travel company notes: ‘Often deemed a romantic setting, couples often honeymoon to 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.’ Explore Worldwide adds: ‘The older generation regrets not having seen Niagara Falls first hand, whether from viewing platforms or a boat on the water or even a helicopter aerial tour.’

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