Want to make your golden years your going years? You’re in good company. According to Aging in Place, 80% of Baby Boomers put travel at the top of their bucket list, and people 75 and older are now a common sight in airports, RV camps and cruise ships. Age is just a number, after all, so don’t let it keep you from wandering the world! By adopting a few smart travel habits, you can easily become a savvy—and safe—world traveler. Here are a few tips to help make your next trip as safe and stress-free as possible:
- Do your homework.
Smart travelers rarely wing it without reservations or well-thought-out plans. Whether you’re looking forward to a road trip by car or RV, a getaway flight, a relaxing cruise, or a bus or train trip, it pays to do your research. The variety and amount of travel information available online can stagger the mind. Many websites consolidate automobile routes, airfares, hotels and car rentals into one resource where you can easily compare and choose the best fit for your budget and time frame. Travel agents also serve the same purpose, but they do all the needed research for you. Either way, the old adage of “plan ahead” pays off big when it comes to travel.
- Take care of the home front.
Before you leave, arrange to have your mail held or picked up by a neighbor or friend. Put your newspaper subscriptions on a vacation hold. Notify someone you trust about your travel plans so they can check for any unusual activity or visitors to your home.
- Keep it simple.
No matter how you plan your travel, try to keep it simple. Traveling can be stressful. Make sure your accommodations and your schedule give you a hassle-free experience. Choose a hotel, for instance, that is central to your planned activities. Many hotels offer concierge services that can book activities for you, so take advantage of this easy option. Many also offer special considerations for seniors, like senior-tailored tours or guides, so be sure to ask. Finally, don’t overlook building in relaxation time in between activities to give yourself time to accomplish what travel is intended to do — refresh, recharge and rekindle the thrill of discovery.
- Pack wisely.
Most tourist destinations don’t require formal clothing, even for dinners out. That means you can leave the pearls behind. Consider packing one nice outfit and leave more room in the suitcase for casual clothes and comfortable walking shoes. Be sure to pack any valuables, especially medicines, in your two allowed carryon bags. Airlines now limit checked bags to 50 pounds or less, so it’s a good idea to purchase a portable scale to weigh bags before heading to the airport. Many hotels and private rental homes provide washer and dryers, which can allow you to further limit the amount of clothes you pack, so be sure to ask. The less luggage you have to haul around, the better. Too much luggage can distract you from paying close attention to your surroundings.
- Check on special services.
Need a bit of help making your flight connections? Interested in a particular tourist site, but not sure if you can keep pace with a younger group? Ask if there are any senior-tailored tours available. You may also find it desirable to travel with a seniors-only group. Many travel agencies now list tours created especially for seniors, both foreign and domestic. With these groups, you can be assured you’ll travel at a comfortable pace.
- Buy travel insurance.
Unexpected illnesses and accidents can not only cut your travel short, they can also make the cost of the trip skyrocket. Insurance, including Medicare, will not pay for treatment outside of the U.S. Even at home, your insurance may not cover expenses incurred from out-of-network providers. Many travel agents and websites provide the opportunity to purchase travel insurance when you book. It’s well worth considering.
With the large number of seniors planning or engaging in travel today, you’ll be in good company. Moreover, you’ll doubtless have many friends (plus new ones you’ll meet on your travels) to share tips on making travel plans, saving money on travel, and the best destinations. So get out there! The world awaits your next trip!