Female travelers seen as new driving force in tourism industry

With age no barrier, Chinese women are spreading their wings and spending big on journeys

By Yang Feiyue | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-22 07:38
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Li Muzi, a retired manager. [Photo provided to CHINA DAILY]

Baby boomers

Li Muzi is in her 60s, but is not content to play the traditional role of a grandmother and stay at home to take care of her grandson.

Li, from Tianjin, has traveled more than 100,000 kilometers with her husband around the world after she retired a decade ago from doing management work at a State-owned company.

The couple has taken self-driving tours abroad, including in the United States, Mexico, Thailand and Singapore, and visited ethnic areas and villages across the country including in Yunnan province, and the Xinjiang Uygur and Xizang autonomous regions.

"I have been mainly responsible for planning ahead and settling on a destination," said Li, who is currently on a road trip from Tianjin to Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Qinghai province.

She believes travel is about going beyond stereotypes and refusing to follow others' opinions. "One must see the world for themselves, and talk to interesting people in person," she said.

Over the years, Li's diverse travel experiences have helped her pick up new skills and develop hobbies such as tennis, photography, pickleball, driving and cycling.

She and her husband exercise for one to two hours every day to build their physical strength and prepare for long-distance trips.

The couple joined a tropical rainforest expedition a few years ago in Hainan province, with all their fellow travelers aged in their 20s and 30s. "We still managed to walk at the front of the group throughout the journey. The team leader couldn't believe that we were in our 60s," Li said with pride.

She believes she is at the "golden age" for travel as her parents have passed away and her children are grown up, leaving her with no major family obligations.

"So, why not enjoy the freedom of time and the spontaneity to travel wherever we want?" Li said.

Internet services have made it a lot easier for her to make travel plans, she said. She usually makes plans a month before her departure and recently has been leaning toward adventures off the beaten track.

"When you are tired of the complexities of social interactions in big cities, these places are like a breath of fresh air. You will see something new, or rather, something deeper — the traditions, culture, kindness and simplicity of the Chinese ethnic groups as well as landscapes undisturbed by crowds. These are the most touching aspects of our journeys," Li said.

"As we get older, travel naturally becomes about nourishing the eyes and the heart while getting away from the hustle and bustle," she added.

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