One of the perks of getting older is having more time to devote to recreation and traveling.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are roughly 52 million people who are age 65 or older in the United States. With a $1.6 trillion total net worth, seniors spend more on groceries, pharmaceutical items and travel and leisure than any other demographic. The international travel agency Virtuoso says the average retiree spends nearly $12,000 a year on travel.
Age does not have to restrict one’s ability to travel, and with age comes experience and more opportunities to enjoy travel. Before taking off for parts unknown, men and women over 50 can take steps to ensure their excursions are as safe as they are memorable.
1. Consider risk. The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 taught the world that situations can change rapidly. Before booking any travel, weigh the risks and the benefits of a trip. Determine if Covid-19 is spreading where you live or at your destination. Older adults have a higher risk for severe illness caused by the virus.
Seniors were among the first groups of people to be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. The travel resource Go Backpacking says vaccination is now one of the primary requirements for entering destinations around the globe. If you have not been vaccinated, now may be the time to discuss the vaccine with a doctor.
2. Travel during off-peak hours: mid-afternoon and early evening tend to be busy travel times. No matter how you’re traveling, avoiding crowds can reduce infection rates. If possible, travel in the early morning or late at night when fewer people will be out.
3. Avoid destinations with high infection rates. The World Health Organization offers daily counts of cases on their Coronavirus Dashboard. Visit Covid19.who.int to learn more.
4. Pack accordingly. Along with the usual travel gear, bring along hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, masks, and disinfecting sprays. Wipe down common touch points in hotel rooms, like doorknobs and remote controls.
5. Dine outside. Many people have safely returned to indoor dining. But if you want extra protection, ask to be seated outdoors at restaurants. Try to limit time spent in other public places if they are crowded. That includes bars, clubs or even museums.
6. Use senior-friendly services. Seek out travel services that offer the best perks for older adults. Many travel providers no longer offer senior discounts, but they may offer other benefits, such as early boarding or assistance with traveling from gates to baggage areas.
7. Get travel insurance. According to Liz Dahl, cofounder of Boomer Travel Patrol, a website featuring expert advice geared toward the Baby Boomer demographic, travel insurance can be essential for older travelers. Older travelers may be more at risk of falling or getting sick and some may need extra medication if travel is interrupted or delayed. Travel insurance can provide extra coverage for a relatively low price if something goes wrong.
8. Don’t advertise your absence. It may be tempting to upload photos of your beachside vacation to social media as you are immersed in paradise. Unfortunately, seniors tend to be targets for thieves because they are seen as vulnerable. Don’t make the job easier by advertising you are away from home. In addition, have a neighbor periodically pick up your mail and set lights on timers to give the impression you are home even when you’re not.
9. Share your itinerary. Keep loved ones apprised of your general travel itinerary, especially if you are traveling solo, recommends AARP. Keep a mobile phone on you at all times.
10. Pack copies of important documents. In the event paperwork is lost while traveling, request copies of prescriptions and/or statements of medical conditions from each physician and medical treatment center so you have a second set. Keep copies of your passport, driver’s license, insurance cards, travel tickets, and other documents as well.
Seniors have the ability to travel much more than other age groups. Make the experience enjoyable by focusing on safety.