Ken and Cally Hardaker are 50-something empty nesters who love travelling. But when they're not on the road, they're at home in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia -- a fabulous place to live. The central message of their blog, Dodgy Knees, is that older travellers can travel independently, just as younger travellers do.
Ken and Cally were kind enough to answer a few of our questions below!
Cally: I was born in Japan where my family lived for 10 years, and we travelled regularly to Australia, Europe, and North America. So I guess I was born to it.
Ken: I was a little later starting. After finishing university in the early 80's, I spent three and a half years backpacking around the world. So, it's been a lifelong passion for both of us.
Ken & Cally: We like to organise all aspects of our own travel. The planning and research is half the fun. So we rarely take group trips except the occasional day trip.
Ken & Cally: We decided to give ourselves a 'gap year' in 2016 and spend a year travelling. It turned into 18 months and we travelled through the Caribbean, South, Central, and North America as well as a couple of months in Europe. In all, 54 countries on the one trip. We loved the fact that travel was our full time "job" for all that time.
Ken & Cally: Mongolia. And we're going next year. Can't wait.
Ken & Cally: Our maps program on our mobile phones. We use Maps.me. It uses the phone's GPS so you don't need an internet connection.
Ken & Cally: Do your preparation. If you want to visit places that have a reputation as being a bit edgy, the more you know beforehand the more likely it is that you'll not have any problems and you'll enjoy yourself. We always check the government travel advice on a country before visiting as well as read what other travellers are saying on forums such as Lonely Planet's Thorntree.
Ken & Cally: An obscure "eco-resort" in southern Gabon where we were the only guests.
Ken & Cally: That's a hard question. Rio, Sydney, Jerusalem are all up there. But our choice is Havana. The beauty is in the crumbling glory of the city and it's history, and it is very affordable.
Ken & Cally: We don't take cruises. The idea of taking a holiday with 4,000 other people doesn't appeal. We wanted to visit Alaska and "cruised" to a number of locations on the public system -- The Alaskan Maritime Highway. It was excellent. It allowed us to decide exactly when and where we went and was a lot cheaper than a cruise. Highly recommended.
Ken: I met a Slovenian couple in China in 1986. We've stayed in contact all these years. Last year we visited them in Slovenia and this Christmas they are coming to stay with us in Tasmania. I don't know that it has "changed our life" but it's been a great friendship which continues to this day.
Ken & Cally: When in countries that don't have English as a national language, tourists who just assume the locals will speak English. We always try to learn a few words of the local language, even if it's just greetings, thank you, yes and no (and how to order two beers -- that's essential).
Ken & Cally: Albania. We visited last year and loved it. It has an interesting history, great beaches and friendly people. Most young Albanians speak English so it was easy to travel about. It was also very cheap by European standards. We reckon that it will take off in the next few years.
Ken & Cally: That it's easier than you think to organise your own trips. You just need a computer, a smartphone and a few good apps and websites. And apart from being fun to do it yourself you'll save money.