Washington, DC - Summer vacations are the norm for full-fledged families with work and school schedules, but retirees prefer the leisurely, less costly pace of off-season escapes, says Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens. Thus, he says, the start of the peak travel season for senior citizens begins after Labor Day.
“While the rest of the world goes back to school and back to work, the most popular vacation destinations are not so crowded and in many cases less expensive. These are ideal conditions for seniors,” Weber explains.
There are a lot of reasons travel is at the top of the lists for retirees. Those who can afford it want to see the world and fly or sail off to exotic destinations now that they have the time. Even those on limited budgets can satisfy their wanderlust by taking road trips.
And, Professor of Sociology and Gerontology at the University of Kansas, Dr. David J. Ekerdt, says that travel is good for seniors. He tells Forbes Magazine “it is something to anticipate, something that populates your future with a project or event. It’s an affirmation of good health - that you can actually get in a car and go two states away." Some say travel can even help you live longer and healthier.
But, whatever the benefits of travel for older Americans, there are a few tips that can help ensure your journey is enjoyable, worry free and safe.
AMAC, says Weber, recommends early planning. “For one thing, you need to take note of physical limitations you may have and, if you are traveling with a wife or husband, what concerns they may have. So, begin by planning a getaway that will not be so physically demanding if you are not up to it. It might be a good idea to check with your doctors to discuss your medical needs during your trip.”
Once you’ve picked a destination that’s right for you, here are a few tips:
- Pack a sufficient supply of the medications you take in your carry-on luggage so that they will be easily accessible when you need them. And, make a list of the meds, just in case you run out or lose them.
- According to the official site for Medicare “In general, health care you get while traveling outside the U.S. isn't covered. Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands are considered part of the U.S. So check with your insurance provider to make sure you can receive insured medical attention at your destination if and when you might need it. If your insurance does not cover you, purchase supplemental coverage that will be available at your destination or destinations
- Make sure you pack comfortable walking shoes and, if you are headed into a sunny clime, get yourself headwear that will protect you.
- Provide a family member and/or a trusted neighbor with an itinerary, complete with the names and locations of the hotels at which you’ll be staying.
- If you are flying to your destination and have any dietary restrictions, contact your airline to ensure they can provide meals that meet those restrictions.
- Check that your passports are in order if you are traveling abroad and if you don’t have a current passport, apply for it giving yourself time for it to be processed.
- Take a spare pair of glasses—particularly prescription glasses, just in case of breakage or loss.
- If you have a long flight to your destination, be sure to periodically walk the aisles during your flight lest you fall prey to Deep Vein Thrombosis.
- Use a money belt or safety pouch to carry your valuables, including your passport, travelers’ checks and cash. Leave expensive jewelry at home.
- Make copies of all the documents you carry, including your passport, airline tickets, etc. Leave one set with a family member or a trusted friend; hold on to a second set—just in case you misplace an original.