Is this the world’s oldest backpacker?

10th May 2012
Written by: Andrew Tipp

Is this the world's oldest backpacker?

Age is no barrier for elderly gapper

At gapyear.com we always say that no one is too old to take a gap year, and now someone has gone and proved it.

Keith Wright, 95, is about to take off on his eighth trip to Europe, where he plans to backpack, stay in hostels, and join other nomads on a hop-on hop-off independent rail journey across the continent.

The no-frills traveller and World War II veteran from Burleigh Heads, Queensland, Australia, has been flying solo around the world since 2002 and has ticked off most countries in Western and Eastern Europe during the past decade.

Keith, who is as sharp as a tack, travels in economy class on a round the world ticket and chooses to check-in to hostels, where he sleeps in a single room where possible, but occasionally shares a dormitory with 18 to 30-somethings.

His first solo trip was at the age of 85, a few years after his wife Barbara passed away, and was a four-day bus loop through Turkey.

Keith, who has no plans to stop travelling anytime soon, recalls his experiences:

I have had itchy feet all my life and had always wanted to go to Gallipoli on Anzac Day, so I decided to sell our house and put the extra money towards a holiday. My belief is that if you are fit and able to travel independently, it is the best way to see as much as of the world as you want.

These days, the spritely pensioner lives on a shoestring all year to save enough money to get abroad and has created a personal travel budget.

On May 28 he heads back to Madrid, San Sebastian, Paris, Munich and Vienna for a two-month short gap, with a special side trip to London to see his favourite Aussie horse, Black Caviar, race at Royal Ascot.

Keith's enthusiasm for travel may be attributed to his days working for Ansett Airways and Pioneer Coach Travel, where he held roles in payroll and operations.

Even at his ripe age, Keith loves to have a beer with fellow travellers and is not afraid to navigate the less beaten paths alone, by foot, road or rail.

I have seen things that most tourists haven't seen, because I walk the back streets and take trains or buses to nearby towns for the day. Most people I meet are surprised when I tell them my age and amazed that I have come all the way from Australia.

He added: "Wherever I go, I wear my Australia cap, so it gets me a lot of attention from the locals."

Paul Bondsfield, a spokesperson for Round the World Experts, said: "We put together plenty of complex round the world airfares for the over 50s; people who have retired and decided to travel the world.

"Keith is the oldest we've come across and we're delighted he has chosen to stop in the UK as part of his journey."

Are you inspired by Keith's story? Do you still want to be backpacking at 95?

If you're 95 and planning your own round the world trip then head to our planning section. And if you're under 95 you should head there anyway…

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