How to Safely Travel After Retirement

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.

Baby Boomer Travel Trends

Guest Post by Samantha Scott

Last year, AARP reported in their annual travel research survey that “practically all Baby Boomers (99%) anticipate traveling for leisure in 2016, with approximately 4 or 5 trips in the works.” 45% reported that they would take a combination of domestic and international trips, while 5% planned to focus on international only.

In a 2013 article by Stephanie Rosenbloom, the New York Times reported that the travel industry is now focusing on attracting that demographic which is between the ages of 49 and 67.

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Baby boomers are the generation born between 1945 and 1964, and account for approximately 26% of the total population. They were raised by a post war 1950’s mentality, which they rebelled against with a vengeance in the 1960’s and 70’s. This period saw a disillusionment with their parents’ desire for a picket fence stability.

Baby boomers sought out and embraced a more complicated world, delving into the nuances of other cultures and inspiring a voracious interest in world travel. Some even took it a step further. Multiple “go off the beaten track” tour companies, were founded in the 1970s and 1980s, fueled by this spirit of exploration and curiosity about other cultures.

Now that many Baby Boomers are reaching or in retirement, they’re heading out to travel again. And they have the time and money to do it their way.

So what kind of trips do baby boomers take? Why do they travel and what are the trends? Here are our findings on the most popular trends in baby boomer travel:

Life Long Learners

If the fifties ushered in the emergence of the “American teenager,” the mid to late sixties was the introduction of the “college aged” adult. Counter culture, civil rights, and feminist movements all contributed to a more educated populace who, today, continue to broaden their horizons.

Educational tours are on the rise and one of the most popular tour types among fifty plus travelers.

Road Scholar (previously Elderhostel) is an excellent example. Founded in 1975, and designed specifically for older travelers, Road Scholar provides learning tours all over the world. One of their main draws is the emphasis on tours led by experts in their field. You might be learning about Egypt from an archaeologist or visiting Shakespeare’s house with an Oxford professor. Booking a tour is akin to booking a class for the semester, only without the burden of homework!

Stephen Ambrose Tours is another popular learning tour option, especially for veterans. Tours are led by military historians, and often veterans are there to provide their unique perspective. The focus is on WWII, though Civil War themed tours and Lewis and Clark expeditions are also offered.

Learning tours aren’t always about book learning. Cultural tours are a great way to combine a love of travel with a love of learning. You might learn a new craft or skill, participate in a local cooking class, watch a traditional dance, or get to try on traditional dress. These tours are often accompanied by local guides who provide their own unique perspective on their home and culture.

For more information visit Stride Travel’s Cultural Tours page.

Multi-Generational Travel

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One of the most popular trips for boomers today is the rather broad-termed “multi-generational travel.” This style of travel has grown in popularity over the years, and tour companies have answered, offering trips grandparents, parents, and kids can enjoy together.

In fact, often times, it’s the baby boomers (grandparents) who originally come up with the idea of a multi-generational trip, and foot the bill! These tours are very special experiences, and a great way for grandparents to connect with their younger family members.

More and more tour companies are offering kid and adult friendly tours, catering to the needs of each. Younger travelers have activities to keep them entertained and elderly travelers are taken care of as well. Some fantastic tour companies to look into are Thomson Family Adventures, Travelove, and Intrepid. You can find out more about these companies, read reviews, and compare various attributes on Stride.

The “Bucket List”

While the “Bucket List” idea isn’t exactly new, its popularity is growing.

The best thing about a bucket list is that it is personalized and all about meeting a goal; about making a dream happen. It doesn’t matter if it’s finally hiking to Machu Picchu, or finally booking a luxury wine tasting tour in France or maybe finally finding the species that has eluded you for years on a birding tour

As we’ve seen, boomers show no signs of slowing down when it comes to ticking their dreams off the list.

**A longer version of this article was originally posted on Stride Travel.

Helpful Hints for Happy Travels in Retirement

If you are like many retirees to be, travel will be an important part of the retirement you imagine. The new found freedom to do what you want is nicely channeled into wandering the world where you experience new sites, sounds and cultures in places you have to this point only read about or seen on the Travel Channel.  You can strike out on your own to be as adventurous as you want or play it safe as part of an organized tour. It is all up to you and the options are limitless.

Whatever your choice, it is essential that your travels are a positive experience.  As we get a bit further along in years, certain comforts and considerations can make or break a trip. In new locales where you can find yourself dealing with different languages, unfamiliar customs and strange laws, there is always the possibility that something might go wrong.

We recently spent a week in Paris while attending a wedding. The trip was a big success and we are already trying to figure out how soon we can return. As I think back on what it was that made the trip so enjoyable, I am able to identify a handful of factors that combined in our favor, tips that I hope to replicate in future travels.

It’s all about location – my wife and I are big walkers and always look for a home base that is centrally located to provide easy access to local attractions and neighborhoods. The big hotels with their nice amenities come at a cost as they tend to be located in busy touristy areas – not our cup of tea. On this trip for the first time we tried the new AirBNB service we had been hearing so much about. We went to the website and entered parameters for the area we wanted to stay and the dates we would be in Paris. After some research we came upon a lovely flat in the middle of the Marais with a small kitchen, bedroom, and living room overlooking the street four floors below. The location could not have been better. During our week there, we walked far and wide visiting our Top 5 Important Site list without once having to use the Metro. We carried an umbrella as the weather was as usual unpredictable but were lucky to keep it closed most of the time. Best of all along the way we discovered those hidden farmers markets and little known restaurants and off-the-beaten-path boutiques that are the real charm and beauty of Paris. And after an average of five hours walking each day, we had no problem sleeping when night came.

Top 5 List with sufficient time to enjoy – when visiting a new place it is common practice to want to see the major attractions. We are no different and had our Top 5 List ready before the airplane wheels touched down. But we have learned over the years that to really enjoy the experience, it is important to balance adventure with down time. If the whole trip is spent in a constant state of go-go-go as you try to see everything there is to see, by the end of the day you may find yourself tired and cranky rather than reminiscing over fond memories of the day. We typically focus on one or two major attractions in a given day, leaving plenty of time to meander the neighborhoods and chill with a glass of espresso or wine along the way. We keep up a brisk pace while “on the hunt” but also pause to catch our breath and take in everything around us as well. Now that we have done Paris, we have begun looking into flights to Perth for our next possible adventure.

Technology is your friend – before our departure, we did our research. We Googled maps for the apartment location as well as attractions in the immediate vicinity. We uploaded the AirBnB app to our phone to maintain contact with the landlords should we need them for anything during our stay. We sent copies of our passports to our email account in case we might lose them along the way. We even picked up a Google Nexus tablet to provide maps of the area while we explored. The bottom line is there is technology of all kinds that can make your trip safer and smoother. Why not take advantage of it?

Know your neighbors – our first time in Paris we found ourselves challenged finding a good restaurant for dinner (hard to believe I know). It’s not that there were no good restaurants but we did not know which they were. We tried a few that looked good along our wanderings but were pretty much let down. This time we asked people familiar with the area for recommendations. We got the list of nearby top restaurants from the owners of the apartment. We picked the brain of wedding attendees as to what and where we should go during our visit. We even asked locals on the street for their insight. We learned a few of the sites we had planned to visit were basically a waste of time so we skipped them. And this time, the dining experience was excellent. The best way to find out where you should go is from the natives who live there every day.

Traveling in retirement can be a wonderful adventure if you take time to prepare a bit before departure. Then once you arrive, you can focus on exploring and experiencing the local sites and culture that drew you to this spot from the beginning. Happy trails!