Written by Nathan Grant
Whether you’ve lived a well-traveled life or not, once you are retired, you most likely have much more personal freedom, free time, and financial security to make your travel dreams come true. While many seniors enjoy traveling by cruise ship, which can have a variety of amenities and accommodations to make traveling for a senior safe and comfortable, more and more retirees are checking off their travel bucket lists by planning trips all around the globe, which studies show has many health and wellness benefits. With more agency being in the hands of the person planning a trip, here are some ways to ensure that as a traveling senior, you can have a safe trip as well as an enjoyable one.
Preparing for a Safe Trip
When planning your destination, only book through trusted agencies, local or online, and if booking your trip online, make sure to look at the URL of the websites you are using to make sure they are secure websites by checking for a lock symbol next to the web address, and a “https” instead of just “http” in the URL. It’s a good practice to check while on any website where you will be sharing personal or financial information, but especially so when you are planning to travel away from home. Scammers can try to offer great and often unrealistic deals and packages, so if something seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance it is.
Another preparatory step you can take is to make sure that you get travel insurance if you don’t already have it with your current insurance provider. There are homeowners policies that cover baggage loss, and some health insurance policies will cover medical emergencies overseas, but not all, so it’s important to look into what insurance provider options you have overseas, in the form of medical, trip cancellation insurance etc. Consider a travel credit card that can offer some of the same benefits as well.
Before you go, also be careful not to post on social media about being gone for an amount of time, or post pictures while you are still on the vacation itself, as you can open your home up to thieves who specifically target seniors and those traveling. If you have close family or friends who live nearby your home, have them check in while you are away just for that added assurance.
Lastly, when planning your trip, consider travel outside of peak times of the years in different seasons to avoid overly heavy crowds. Also, planning weekday trips, as opposed to weekends, can help with the amount of people you may have to deal with, and the good thing about traveling off-peak and during the week is there is often a lot of financial savings in doing so as well.
What to Pack and Navigating the Airport
Making sure you bring the right items to keep you safe and ensure a comfortable trip is important as well. For the airplane, bring a neck pillow and blanket for your seat, and make sure
not to pack or wear too much expensive jewelry as that can make you a target before and during your trip. Pack comfortable, weather-appropriate outfits and supportive shoes so you can fully enjoy your trip without being hampered by discomfort that you could have avoided on your own.
Ultimately, the most important thing you have to pack might be your medications. Before you leave, ask your physicians to provide a letter stating why your medications are necessary. Be sure that the name on your medication bottle matches the name on the letter and on your airline ticket. It’s a good idea to research overseas medical regulations as well so you don’t encounter a problem once you are away from home. According to the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), medications must be packed in their own carry-on bag and be clearly identified, which means bringing the original packaging with medical information can save you a lot of time and hassle. It is not suggested to pack medications in checked bags, as not to expose them to X-rays. Also, let the TSA agent know right away that you have necessary medications to make your boarding process smoother. Also, larger amounts of medications can always be shipped to your destination as well.
Each airline has its own policy for on-board and in-flight oxygen usage. Contact your airline ahead of time to find out its oxygen policies. Also, if you require a wheelchair or walker, find out ahead of time if the airport you are using has their own accessibility options for seniors, or possibly use an airline credit card that has similar benefits like lounge access, or priority boarding for those with a wheelchair or similar need.
A Safe and Secure Destination
Fraud and identity theft are unfortunately rampant and often targeted to seniors specifically. Be aware that there common scams when traveling such as fake taxi services, tour guides, and even imitation police that can be a danger when you are a tourist. Research taxi and ride-share services beforehand, or find out information at the airport itself as most airports and major travel hubs have taxi stands and information desks so you can be aware of legit services before you even step foot out of the airport. And you can always rent a car to get around so you are 100% in control of your itinerary.
There are a few other tips that can make your trip safe and stress free as a senior. Choosing a centralized hotel can be a saving grace, as while it is obviously important to find a hotel that is accommodating and affordable, choosing a hotel that can act as a sort of home base during your stops on your trip is great, allows you to recuperate and then you can consider not carrying certain medications that you don’t need on your person. Also, spreading out the stops on a trip, and not packing too much bucket list crossing in one day so you don’t overdo it is advised. It can be tiring for a spry young couple on their first trip having a busy itinerary, so pace your trip and stay safe and happy the whole time.
Also, there is no rule that you have to travel alone! Bringing the kids and grandkids along for a family trip will no doubt make you feel younger, create lasting memories with your family, and
make for a safer experience away from home, so buck the trend, check off that bucket list, and show that it is never too late to make those travel dreams come true.