Travel is one of the most popular senior activities.
Senior citizen travel is a favorite, both before and after retirement. But success is all in the details. No matter what the economy, deals can be found for a senior travel discount or senior travel packages.
“Senior,” by the way, now refers to anyone over age 50. But for the most enjoyable experience, travel does take really good planning. Especially as we “ripen” in years. Start by asking yourself a few pointed questions.
I have traveled and/or lived all over the world, from Kuwait in the Middle East, to South America, to Europe for extensive visits several times, to Mexico, to Canada, and all around the U.S. Over the years I’ve collected many ideas to make traveling much, much easier.
And since I’m a really organized person by nature, it’s fun and natural to me. So I’d like to share a little of what I’ve learned, especially since I now sort of fit into the category of “senior citizen travel” – well, at least at the “young” end of senior citizen! (Also be sure to see our page about When Senior Women Travel Alone, with particular insights to consider).
Senior Citizen Travel Ideas
What is Your Goal?
Part of the fun of senior citizen travel is to pinpoint why you are taking a given trip. Remember the old bumper sticker, “I’d rather be fishing”? Do you have favorite senior activity ideas? What would you rather be doing? The questions below will help you narrow it down.
- Are you finally able to go overseas and explore another country and culture?
- Are you visiting family (near or far)?
- Are you sharing this experience with another loved one, perhaps a grandchild? For a special occasion?
- Will your trip require special immunizations? What are the costs?
- Do you want to participate in just senior travel tours?
- Are you doing solo senior citizen travel and want to meet others of like interest?
- Do you want to fly, or travel by train, coach (bus), or car? This is a big part of your budget.
- Will you be staying in a hotel, B&B. cabin, with a host family, with family or friends, swapping homes, in an Elderhostel, an RV, or even camping in a tent?
- Will you be staying for a few days or a couple months, and plan to cook some meals? If so, renting a cottage, hotel or apartment by the month may be more practical.
- Do you have disabilities, special needs, or medications to consider?
- Do you want to take an “adventure” type trip? (Be sure you’re in good shape. And brave. Yet cautious.)
- Is this a special-interest trip based on a theme or hobby, like cooking, fishing, photography, history or art? Check out Road Scholar (a.k.a. Elder Hostel) for specialized learning as you travel. Some of my family members have done this and rave!
Planning Senior citizen travel will depends on your answers to the above questions. Ready to get more detailed? Remember, a successful, enjoyable trip is all in your level of planning.
Where Do You Want to Go?
Senior citizen travel should involve what you want — you deserve it! Where do you want to go is the first question to ask yourself; particularly if you have limited funds or time. Where do you really want to go? (Not where other people think you should go, or have gone themselves).
Make a Wish List of your top 5 choices, and don’t let yourself mentally edit it!
Even if you think there are blocks to your trip,
…Like finances, a companion, health, or someone’s opinion, once you make the choice, you will be amazed at what opportunities open up. But first you’ve got to decide.
Want some fun travel-related senior activities ideas? Check out the travel section of your library or book store. Many libraries also have a selection of free travel movies. Plus, there are many excellent travel programs on TV to give you ideas and details. Have a local travel agency send you brochures, especially those about elderly travel.
if a senior travel discount or senior travel packages are available, for all facets of your trip, whether transportation, accommodations, or restaurants.
If you haven’t joined AARP — The American Association of Retired Persons — you may want to re-consider. I recently got a 30% reduction on a hotel by asking if they discount for AARP memberships. It’s affordable, and you’ll qualify for many great travel discounts.
Check out all sources of travel discounts for your trip of choice, though. So-called senior discounts or those through a group like AARP are not necessarily the lowest. You may get other discounts through your credit card provider, auto insurance company, coupons, or roadside assistance plan.
Who Will Plan the Trip?
This depends on your answers to the above questions and your destination. For me, senior citizen travel may best be planned by a travel agent, especially one who specializes in the type of trip or destination. And especially if it’s overseas, a cruise, or a longer trip.
A travel agent will be able to provide information to questions you may not even know to ask, especially if you are dealing with particular elderly issues such as health or disabilities.
Do make a list of questions regarding …
accommodations, transportation, transfers, restaurants, tips and gratuities, itineraries, day trips, travel insurance, health or medical concerns, accessibility.
Some details of elderly travel can be complex with considerations you are not familiar with. An agent can also readily advise you about a senior travel discount.
Or do you feel confident in planning senior citizen travel yourself? If you are familiar with searching the Internet and libraries, you may find that planning is half the fun. It will certainly be an education itself.
Lists are almost a necessity for good senior citizen travel planning. And I’m a real list person. In fact, I make two lists:
– An overall To-Do List, and
– A packing List.
You can keep them handy on a table or counter. As soon as you start planning your trip, start filling in both lists. Just jot down random notes as you think of them. Small details will occur to you that will make your trip so much easier – but you may forget them if you don’t write it down right away. You can re-organize them later on your lists.
Ask yourself or your travel agent these questions…
- How much time will you be spending in the plane or train or coach go to and return from your destination.
- Make sure you ask about a senior travel discount.
- Ask about budget air travel and time frames needed to purchase tickets.
- How do you get from the airport or train station to your destination, and how long does it take?
- How reputable is the coach or bus system.
- If you are touring, how much time per day will you be spending in tour buses?
- How much walking will be done.
- Are there local subways or taxis available – and the prices.
- What are car rental prices.
- If you’re going overseas, what about an international driving permit (IDP)?.
- Many trips are scored according to difficulty of terrain and walking. Ask.
- Do you plan to bicycle or motorcycle once there? Check out options and issues.
Comfortable senior citizen travel is dependent on comfortable accommodations.
- Check hotels and B&B’s carefully and use only those recommended by AARP, a reputable travel book or TV program, your travel club membership, etc.
- Depending on what area you are visiting, the phrase mid-priced hotel, for instance, can mean drastically different things.
- Will you be rooming on a cruise ship? Location, location, location. If you pick mid-ship, you will feel less motion. A balcony also enhances your experience by a long shot and is worth the extra fee.
- If you are visiting another country, consider a stay in a monastery, convent, castle, rustic lodge or nomad tent. These can be surprisingly comfortable.
Again, always inquire about a senior travel discount. Do not go into planning blind or on a whim. Get referrals from friends, relatives, online recommendations, or travel agencies. Transportation and accommodations can make or break your trip.
Be sure to also read:
Finding A Hobby — Travel is one of the top pastimes for seniors. But besides that, there are loads of other ideas to consider too. See what might appeal to you.
Work After Retirement: Creative Options — Ever think about a little more pocket money? Here are creative ways to do it, for just about any age.
Also check out:
HomeExchange50plus – The Home Exchange 50plus web site is specifically for the older traveler. Swap your home with other like minded seniors for holidays in your own country or worldwide. Home & Hospitality Exchange lets you vacation and save money at the same time. Stay free – travel more.