With the popularity of "bucket lists" and a growing number of places catering to senior travelers, there are plenty of options for your next vacation. Our top tips for seniors travelling both domestically and abroad-without the accompaniment of their adult children!
Plan your trip carefully: don't take your trip of a lifetime to India during monsoon season, if you have crippling allergies steer clear of the Anza Borrego Desert during spring blooms, and be aware of state department (foreign) travel advisories. If you're waiting for that super low airfare while planning around your kids' and grandkids' birthdays, you may never have all the stars in alignment. With time and patience, you could possibly get the perfect trip arranged. However, the almost perfect trip is just as amazing, and the "that sounds interesting but I'm not too certain" trip may be the best yet!
You don't necessarily have to pay a lot of extra money for the peace of mind and practicality that travel insurance offers! Many credit cards and membership groups (AAA, AARP, USAA, etc.) offer travel insurance at no or low cost to their members. Find what works best for you and insure to ensure that you never miss out on your hard earned money or your vacation. This little bit of extra investigation on the appropriate insurance for your lifestyle will set you up for planning future vacations with ease!
Having somebody do the leg work is fantastic. Having your reservations, transport, and a loose itinerary sorted out is a luxury you deserve travelling in your golden years. Yes, it costs a bit more sometimes, but not always! Many times, especially if you're travelling solo, group travel will actually save you money!
Unless you are getting picked up by a friend or relative the best travel tip I can offer is always, always, always, get an airport transfer upon arrival. Many times, your group travel or prearranged vacation will offer this; many hotels also offer this invaluable service. If not, make certain to contact a reputable company ahead of time to arrange an arrival transfer. Many a vacation has started off sourly waiting in a taxi queue, haggling over a reasonable fare, and feeling taken advantage of just hours into the start of your trip. Yes, those people standing at the arrivals gate with the signs are indicative of a hassle-free start to your vacation!
If you've never been on a plane, a 16-hour flight to Australia is not a good starting point. If you enjoy a good walk try the shorter and well-travelled Grand Canyon Rim hikes instead of the treacherous hike to the bottom. Should you take a chance and skydive over New Zealand or just enjoy the beautiful view from a helicopter ride? A good rule of thumb is only participating in activities and adventures that you feel like you can simultaneously both complete and enjoy. Ask for help from your contact in the tourism related activity! Most people working within the tourism industry are extremely helpful and want you to be happy (and safe). Your satisfaction helps bolster their positive tourism exposure. A great recommendation and even a return trip helps keep the good places and helpful people in business. Be safe so that you can enjoy your vacation, and plenty of others in the future!
As with all businesses there are the good and the bad. Don't assume everybody is out to take advantage of you but be cautious in your interactions. As stated above, ask for help when needed! Positive interactions work out to everybody's benefit: vacationers are rewarded with a fantastic trip, good business get great reviews and build clientele, which helps bolster their bottom line and allows them to keep offering great tourism experiences. Don't be unreasonable in your expectations or requests, especially when travelling abroad. However, don't be afraid to lodge a complaint, along with suggesting a viable solution if a problem does arise. If you have a fantastic trip remember which vendors you used (airline, vacation group, hotels, etc.) so that you can continue to repeat your travel experiences on your next vacation, wherever your travels may take you!
Leah Felderman is a proud alumnus of University of Central Florida (BA) and San Diego State University (MA). She has worn many occupational hats including teaching, hospitality management, government contractor and non-profit organizer. She is an intrepid international traveler having visited over 60 countries before happily settling down into her new life chapter of domesticity as a mom and Coast Guard wife.