Silver Horizon: Travel At Any Age

Travel co-operative Silver Horizon Travel proves that you’re never too old to discover the world

Photos: Shutterstock, Silver Horizon Travel Co-operative Ltd

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For avid traveller Marie Lim, scaling mountains and trekking through rolling hills in full bloom is a regular occurrence.

It would thus come as a surprise to know that Mdm Lim is a healthy 71 years old.

“I’m very adventurous by nature,” explains Mdm Lim, who has a 31-year-old daughter. “I want to experience new things, because I know that if I don’t do it now, I won’t ever get to do it in the future.”

It’s not every day you hear about an elderly person who frequently travels, especially to engage in intensive activities like hiking and trekking. But for Mdm Lim, such adventures are made stress-free with the help of Silver Horizon Travel (SHT), a co-operative (co-op) by senior citizens that organises age-friendly tours for fellow senior citizens.

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Seize the day

A retiree who used to teach English in primary school, Mdm Lim shares that she gave the relaxed retired life a try, but felt herself fidgeting with restlessness. She recalls, “When I retired, I didn’t do anything for one year. One day, I realised that I wanted to say something and it was at the tip of my tongue, but I couldn’t find the words.

“Nowadays, dementia will come easily. So you have to be active… You must stimulate your mind.”

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Mdm Lim trekked along the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Lijiang, China.

Her favourite memories abroad include climbing up mountains to take in the dramatic views; walking through the beautiful peony parks of Luoyang, China; as well as seeing the tulip season blooming in the Netherlands. She recently returned from a SHT trip to Russia.

To the families who are reluctant to let their elderly parents travel, Mdm Lim advises that unless there is a handicap or health problem that prevents the person from travelling, seniors should take the opportunity to see the world.

She encourages, “I take medication and quite a number of us use walking sticks, but that doesn’t mean we’re not able… Sometimes I meet people in their 80s and they’re stronger than me! It’s high time we enjoy our lives.”

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A group of senior travellers on a Silver Horizon Travel tour to Dali, China.

Travel far, travel well

The difference in travelling for seniors comes in the travel itinerary; typical tours are usually packed and can be harder for older travellers to keep up with.

This is where SHT comes in. A co-op formed in 2012, SHT comprises seniors who design long- and short-haul tours catered for the elderly. These range from one-day trips to Malaysia to long tours to European countries like France, Switzerland and Russia.

In fact, one of the most senior members of the group is now 90 years old, reveals Miss Helen Lim, Chairperson of SHT. She explains that in order to ensure its members enjoy their trip, the co-op is mindful of including safe sites, healthier food options and longer sight-seeing times.

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Miss Helen Lim, Chairperson of Silver Horizon Travel.

It also organises charity tours, which bring along beneficiaries who have never owned a passport or have not travelled in a long period of time.

Miss Lim shares, “We had a 59-year-old bachelor whose only trip to Malaysia was when he was a child on his mother’s passport. [We] helped him process his brand-new passport… His expression of appreciation was the [highlight] of that trip.”

On advice to fellow seniors, Miss Lim says, “It is important not only to keep physically active, but also to embrace smart ageing [through] conversations with newfound friends on tours.

“We need not be too dependent on our kids to bring us along on trips all the time… Post-tour gatherings enable seniors to get to know each other better and help minimise social isolation in our ageing society.”

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Why and how should the public support co-ops?

– Co-ops and their social missions address society’s changing needs

– They can provide ground-up solutions, preventing heavy reliance on the government

– The public can show their support by signing up as members. For example, retirees who enjoy travelling can join the Silver Horizon Travel Co-operative

What is Silver Horizon Travel?

“Silver Horizon [offers] tours that are more age-friendly, designed by seniors… We are now in our fifth year with many long haul as well as short tours, and even one-day trips to Malaysia. The longest trip was to France and Switzerland.”

– Helen Lim, Chairperson of Silver Horizon Travel

This is the second of a three-part series on Singapore’s co-operative movement brought to you by the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF).

Find out more information about Silver Horizon Travel at silverhorizontravel.com.

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