Planning Your Travel Dreams
Retirement and the relaxed schedule that comes with it allows seniors to fulfill many lifelong travel dreams, be it around the world or in your own backyard. From health and safety precautions to booking transportation and hotels to choosing destinations, this article is a list of things to know before you go.
Health, Safety, and Other Pre-Travel Considerations
Planning is an essential first step of all travel, allowing you to determine the scope and quality of vacations based on multiple factors. The factor of health affects what kinds of trips you can take and how well they may turn out. Consider the following:
- Discuss your travel options with your doctor beforehand
- Pack medication and snacks on your person (in carry-on bags instead of luggage)
- Avoid alcohol during transportation
- Plan your activities day-by-day based on your health and fitness; balance physical activity and rest
To elaborate, you will want to refill your prescriptions, keep them in their containers during security screenings and pill organizers afterward, and keep a list of them and their dosages before any trip. This way, you can avoid running out of them at a time of need either by having enough at all times or by refilling them at your destination with the list. Bringing your own snacks often costs less and better accommodates dietary needs than airplane food, and will keep up your blood sugar during periods of physical activity. Meanwhile, alcohol should wait until arrival and settling because it can worsen nausea. Upon arrival, a combination of physical activity and rest can help you avoid complications from sedentary travel hours and exhaustion alike.
You can greatly improve the safety of a trip by taking other steps in the planning process. Consider the following:
- Travel with at least one family member or friend, or send them copies of your travel itinerary if you plan on traveling alone
- Ask a family member, friend, or hired house sitter to look after your residence during the trip
- Secure all valuable belongings (especially money, phones, and credit cards) on your person to avoid theft
- Choose your destinations with attention to their particular safety precautions
In general, friends and family can assist you in the transportation process, care for your pets and plants at home, and protect your belongings from criminals. Only trusted people should know about your trip because criminals often target seniors’ homes while they are away. Particular safety precautions of a destination may include crime rates in cities and accident risks in natural areas. City destinations require standard supplies such as clothes, toiletries, medication, and documents, while natural destinations additionally require some variety of outdoor gear.
Other necessary parts of travel planning involve attention to expenses and records. Consider the following:
- Pay for travel insurance
- Keep all of your travel documents printed and within reach
- Learn or ask if any reservations offer senior discounts
- Travel during the off-season for lower prices
Travel insurance usually costs between $100 and $200. It will ensure accidents such as falls or theft, which could otherwise cost a fortune. Travel documents include travel insurance, passports and identification, medical documents, and hotel reservations. These are all documents you may be expected to show to officials. You should also write down emergency contacts, travel itineraries, and transportation schedules for your own reference. Know that airlines, cruises, hotels, and other businesses in the travel industry may offer discounts to seniors, especially AARP members, and that retirement gives you more opportunities to travel in the cheaper off-season than most.
Transportation and Reservations
“The journey is more important than the destination”, people say. To some extent, this is true; the insight behind your transportation plans often determines whether a trip is enjoyable, and you will need to know your options before choosing a destination. Below are lists of things to consider about different means of transportation.
Flights and trains: these forms of transportation both cover long-distance travel in tight quarters, so they follow many of the same standards. Both allow you to request employees’ assistance with luggage, escort, hydration, and other needs. Both allow you to book aisle seats with more legroom and easier bathroom access. If you buy plane tickets through the airport instead of third-party sites, they can provide you a hotel room in the event of delay or cancellation.
Cruises: a cruise counts as both lodging and transportation all in one, allowing for comfortable travel to multiple faraway destinations. Because cruises are among the most expensive forms of travel, your choice of destination is everything; it could be the trip of a lifetime.
Touring groups: your local area probably has at least one senior touring group operating out of it. If you’re interested in travel at a relaxed pace with other seniors you may befriend, consider these tours in air-conditioned buses with meal stops.
Road trips: traveling long distances by car is a cherished family pastime, especially in America. As a senior, it is especially important to stay hydrated and take breaks at rest stops. You may find that the road was just as open as you always remembered.
After you have considered destinations and transportation, making hotel reservations comes next. Be sure to choose one within a cost-efficient distance of your daily activities and restaurants; third-party review sites such as TripAdvisor, Travelocity, and Travel + Leisure can help based on guests’ impressions.
Once you know your travel options, you can plan trips based on the advice above to locations of the kinds below.
International: The wonders of the world never cease, and knowing effective planning can allow you to see them. International travel requires flights or cruises, and often trains, buses, taxis, or rental cars upon arrival. Cultural or language barriers can make it especially important to bring a friend or consult a travel agent and represent your home country respectfully.
Cross-country: A road trip, flight, train, or tour can take you to that National Park or famous city you’ve always wanted to see in your home country. Perhaps you have loved ones to visit from afar. Whatever the reason, and whatever the distance, following the above tips can make excellent memories of these trips.
Local: Whether you cannot travel far due to financial or health-related reasons or you simply enjoy a getaway close to home, you can find adventure right outside your door. State, city, and county parks, museums, art installations, and local restaurants all await you as possible day trips.
Whichever kind of destination you choose, be educated, prepared, and as full of wanderlust as ever before.
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