Traveling in the Golden Years can have its perks: More free time for adventuring, life experience to fall back on, and be an excellent way to inspire mind-body-spirit connection and vitality through new experiences. It inherently promotes being physically active, and socially engaged. And there are plenty of other reasons: Visit family far away, learn about your heritage, education, and immersive experiences, and for just a good ol’ fun adventure! Whatever gets the travel bug started, here are a few tips once the ball is rolling:
6 Senior Travel Tips
1. When searching out the right kind of travel experience as an older adult or for your senior loved one, consider mobility and health concerns, budget, and interests. Trusted travel resource Travel + Leisure has rounded up the 14 best senior-friendly travel groups that include adventurous options such as ElderTreks to Senior Cycling which offers bicycle tours for active adults over 50. There’s something for every taste on the list.
2. Always get travel health insurance! Travel can be expensive, and if there are non-refundable costs involved, should an unexpected health issue arise you don’t want to be caught unprepared. Always go directly to a health insurance broker, rather than booking through the cruise, group, etc.
Before jet setting anywhere, it’s also always important to check with your trusted healthcare professional to ensure you or your senior loved one that will be accompanying you is physically capable of the trip. The conversation can also cover adapting medications for different time zones, if vaccinations are necessary, and a doctor’s statement about knee or hip implants that could pose a problem with airport security alarms.
3. Make special requests by phone! Yes, booking online is quick and easy if your tech-adept, but making special requests such as wheelchair assistance or pre-boarding, it’s always better to speak with someone at the airline, travel group, hotel, or activity.
4. Consider an organized tour or cruise. Especially for seniors with mobility issues, cruises are a wonderful way to get the whole travel party together in one place with the least amount of fuss: Simply settle on board, and let the all-inclusive fun begin!
5. Plan to take it easy. Travel on its own is exciting, and the change in routine can be tiring on older adults. Go easy, and recognize that rest is part of the vacation. If you’re traveling with elderly parents or family members, remember: It’s okay to take some time for you, too!
6. Travel in off-peak seasons to avoid crowds and extreme summer or winter weather (depending on where you’re going), but remember to check the off-season hours of the tourist sites you plan to visit so you’re not missing out on what you wanted to see most!
Senior Air Travel Tips
If you’re traveling by air, that comes with its own whole sub-list of senior-friendly travel tips!
· Always check for a seniors’ discount! Some airlines such as United Airlines, Delta, and Southwest Airlines, offer reduced fares; the wait time on a call will be worth it as they’re not always advertised online.
· Invest in the proper gear: durable yet lightweight luggage, a suitcase marker for easy recognition, and a travel pillow and blanket for comfort.
· Check in advance online to avoid spending unnecessary time on your feet at the airport. Even though you’ll get an e-ticket this way, always print your boarding pass so you’re not struggling last minute at the airport if things aren’t loading on your phone.
· Never put important documents in checked baggage!
· Most airlines allow canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and electric scooters at no extra cost. Check with your specific airline well before your departure date as to their rules.
Staying home, but love to travel?
Armchair Travel is a lovely way for seniors and their family members to connect. There is a slew of virtual tours of museums, national parks, and zoos around the world put together by the city of Newmarket, Ontario—from the lighthouses of Canada to nationwide cultural festivals, the 25 Wonders of the World, and even virtual helicopter tours!—that can be experienced right from your living room. Home in Canada also offers lovely virtual gardens tours, while fouraroundtheworld.com offers a comprehensive list of virtual museum tours from around the globe.
Sharing memories of past trips through dedicated together time is a valuable way to indulge your senior loved one’s love of travel, without the hassle. Include photos and definitely get ready with plenty of stories!
Play tourist in your own town. Many of us have lived somewhere for ages and never been to the sites others visit our town to see! Getting out to local attractions or your city’s hidden gems can be just as rejuvenating as hopping a plane to far-off locales.
Wherever you travel, Bon Voyage!