There are many perks to being a senior citizen. You probably have all the time in the world to travel to all the places you couldn’t when you were working full time. But just like when you were younger, it’s still equally important to plan ahead once you set your sights on a destination.
Traveling as an older person comes with a different set of risks, which you need to consider prior to departure. Even if you’re healthy, it’s still important to plan ahead and create a safety checklist.
Below are some of the top tips for seniors who have been bitten by the travel bug.
Have Financial Security
While most senior citizens either have retirement funds or receive Social Security each month, it might not be enough to cover the cost of travel. When you factor in the rising costs of airfare and all the extras at hotels, it can add up pretty quickly. That’s why you need to have financial security before you travel.
Dipping into your monthly budget probably isn’t the best idea, so if you really want to see the world but don’t want to come up short at the end of the month, you could take out a personal loan. You can use it to pay for all of your travel expenses, such as plane and train tickets, accommodations, and travel insurance. That way, you can budget the funds accordingly and start paying it back once you return.
Start Planning Early
Some of the best vacations for seniors are also popular destinations so you will want to plan early. You scoop up the lowest prices on all kinds of travel without advanced planning. While you can still find some really great last-minute deals, booking planes, trains and hotels reservations early is usually the way to go.
Try to book all of your travel must-haves at least one month, if not more, in advance. This way, you’ll still have time to comparison shop and cancel without penalty if you find a better deal.
Bring a Travel Buddy
No matter what age you are, it’s always better to travel with someone else. While Gen Z made solo travel the “in” thing, older demographics might prefer to have someone come along for the ride. Aside from the safety factor, traveling alone when you’re older might not be what you hoped it would be. You might get lonely and want someone to share the experience with.
Additionally, if you do suffer from underlying medical issues, it’s always better to travel with a friend who can get you help if something happens. That’s not to say you can’t travel solo, but in general, going with a group of friends or even a best friend is just more fun.
Once you buy your tickets and book your hotel, it's time to pack. You should pack your suitcases as early as possible to avoid forgetting anything. If you take medication, make sure you have at least one refill with you. If you're traveling for an extended period of time, you might want to ask your doctor for a few extra refills. The worst thing you can do is to assume that you'll be able to get a new prescription when you're away from home. While this might be the case if you travel domestically, overseas locations might not have a comparable equivalent.
One of the best packing tips is to prioritize your important documents. You should make several copies of important documents, which includes your birth certificate, ID, passport, health and vaccination cards and emergency contact information. You also should save your travel itinerary and digital copies of all plane, train, and hotel reservations in your phone or email. If you lose your wallet or purse, you'll be protected.
Finally, always pack any medication, documents, and at least one or two changes of clothes in your carry on. The last thing you want is to have an airline lose your luggage and not have what you need on hand.
Let Someone Know Where You're Going
Always tell family and friends about your travel plans. Share your itinerary with those closest to you, even if it's only with your physician. Ask them to check in on you if they don't hear from you and to alert the proper authorities if they feel something isn't right.
Don't Let Your Age Stop You
Being older doesn't mean you're too old to enjoy life. People are living longer than ever before, so unless you have suffered a medical condition that prevents you from traveling, use this time to do all the things you couldn't when you had a full-time job.
For more retirement planning tips, visit our resource page on SeniorStrong.org today.
William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.