Don’t shy away from travel during your retirement years; this is your time to hit the road, take a plane, board a boat and finally see all the places you’ve wanted to see but never had the time.
The following travel tips are geared specifically towards senior travelers, and they will help make your next trip as enjoyable, effortless and memorable as possible.
Take Timing Seriously
Oftentimes, finding a great deal depends on timing, and that largely depends upon schedule flexibility. When you only have one week of vacation time from work, you are stuck with the flight prices available on your select days. During your retirement years, however, you have far more leeway to travel on unpopular days—simply flying home on a weekday and the not weekend can save you a bundle.
Furthermore, make sure you aren’t sticking with the traditionally popular travel weeks out of habit from your working years. You now have the flexibility to seek out last-minute deals and explore popular destinations during the shoulder season—the weeks bordering the busy season.
Reevaluate What You Bring
Everyone knows the importance of packing light, but few people are able to achieve it. Packing light is especially important for senior travelers, however, so make a commitment to become a packing pro for your next trip.
Ensuring that your bags aren’t too heavy and bulky is obviously beneficial to avoid straining or injuring yourself, but its benefits go far beyond that. During your retirement years, you have more time to travel, meaning you can visit multiple destinations over a leisurely trip schedule, but it won’t seem as leisurely if you have to lug a heavy bag between destinations repeatedly.
Celebrity travel guide Rick Steves is famous for insisting that travelers on his company’s tours stick with just one carry-on bag, with no checked bag at all. His company has taken tens of thousands of people on tours through Europe over the years, and that experience has made packing light his top tip.
“Too much luggage marks you as a typical tourist,” states Steves on his website. “Serendipity suffers. Changing locations becomes a major operation. Con artists figure you’re helpless. Porters are a problem only to those who need them. With only one bag, you’re mobile and in control. Take this advice seriously.”
Reevaluate How You Bring It
Packing light isn’t just about what goes inside your bags; the bags themselves matter too. If you haven’t replaced your luggage in decades, you may be surprised how far the technology has developed—even in the past few years.
Travel & Leisure’s 2017 list of recommended lightweight luggage features carry-on luggage that starts at just 4 lbs., 4oz., and the checked baggage starts at just 6 lbs. How you combine your luggage is also a consideration. If you plan on bringing more than one bag, make sure that they stack together easily or roll well together.
You can view the whole list of the best lightweight luggage on Travel & Leisure’s website.
Never Check Important Items
You never know what will happen to your bags once they are out of your sight, so never put important items into your checked bags. Medications are first and foremost on that list, along with valuables and any important paperwork you will need on your trip.
Don’t overlook the documentation you may need upon landing. Just because it is easy to pull up your hotel’s address and your confirmation number online at home doesn’t mean that you will be able to do so easily once you land—particularly if you are traveling internationally. Plus, having printouts of this information lets you hand it over to your taxi driver or whoever needs to view it, which you can’t do if you just have it on your phone or tablet.
Inform Credit Card Companies and Banks
One of the easiest ways to avoid travel hassle is to make sure you have travel alerts placed on your credit and debit cards. Many companies put freezes on accounts if they detect unusual spending, and travel often appears to be just that—unusual.
Plan to communicate
Checking in when abroad is easier and less expensive when you plan ahead. Many cell service providers offer low-cost international plans made just for people on vacation. If you don’t plan ahead and need to use your phone in an emergency, the fees for just a few minutes of talking could vastly exceed the cost of one of these prepaid plans.
NerdWallet created a list of the options for most major carriers, which you can view at https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/utilities/best-international-cell-phone-plans/
Independent living means having more time to travel. Take advantage of this fact by booking a getaway soon. And if you keep these tips for senior travelers in mind, you’ll see how rewarding some strategic packing and planning can be.