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Senior Travel: The Benefits and Essential Tips for Your Next Trip

Healthy Living | July 28, 2023

Two senior travelers walking on the beach together.

Remaining active throughout retirement is a great way for seniors to keep their mind sharp and body healthy. One great way to stay active is to take vacations and trips to new and exciting places. Whether you’re looking to take a domestic road-trip to visit iconic American landmarks or planning to travel across the Atlantic on a European getaway – travel can be an excellent way to stimulate your mind, connect with different cultures, and make countless new memories with your loved ones.

Planning itineraries and navigating new cities can seem challenging at first, so we put together some travel advice that will help experienced adventurers and greenhorns alike. Let’s take a look at the benefits of traveling during your retirement and some best practices to get you to your destination happy, healthy, and ready for adventure.

Senior Travel Has its Perks

Retirement is a great time for seniors to finally visit the places they’ve been thinking about. For many seniors, this is the moment they’ve worked for – the time of their lives where they have the finances and free time to travel. Several studies have pointed toward travel being beneficial to seniors’ health, with some finding:

Exploring new environments and meeting new people can help older adults stay both physically active and socially engaged. Seniors who take the time to plan trips and navigate new places keep their mind and body active, building good habits that will encourage a healthy retirement. Whether seniors are looking to experience more of the world, spend time with loved ones, or just take a break from the everyday routine, travel can be a great tool for a long and happy life.

Tips for the Senior Traveler

Planning a trip can often feel overwhelming even for the most experienced traveler. Seniors can face even more struggles as they need to keep certain medical conditions and other disabilities in mind when planning. To help you get started planning your next vacation, take a look at these senior travel tips.

Prepare Important Travel Documents

As you start planning for your trip, it’s important to be aware of what travel documents you might need. Before you hit the road, check to see if you will need these travel documents:

  • Unexpired Passport
  • Driver’s License
  • Medicare Card
  • Itinerary
  • Travel Insurance Information

You should also consider making copies of these documents so that you can pack an extra set with you and leave copies with family members or friends at home. This way, if you lose your ID or it’s stolen, it will be easier to get replacements.

Avoid Overpacking 

Regardless of whether you are headed to your destination by car or plane, your goal should be to pack everything you might need in a rolling suitcase and a medium-sized backpack or carry-on bag. By comfortably fitting everything you need into those two bags, you won’t have to worry about hauling around heavy, burdensome bags throughout your trip. This is even more important if you are traveling overseas and must travel between destinations without your vehicle.

Pre-Travel Wellness Check

Prior to any big trip, seniors should plan on getting a medical check-up with their primary care doctor. This is a great chance to talk about health concerns and any possible issues that might arise throughout your journey. Additionally, this is a good time to update any prescription medication that you will need on your vacation because, depending on where you are traveling, you might be unable to get a refill. This is also a great time to ensure your accessibility devices are travel ready.

Consider Travel Insurance 

While finalizing your travel plans, you should consider purchasing travel insurance. While seniors traditionally pay more for travel insurance, they tend to be the most likely to use it. To determine if you could benefit from travel insurance, you should find out if your medical insurance covers the area you are traveling. Depending on the type of travel insurance you purchase, it can also cover other medical emergencies, lost luggage, and cancellations.

Find Accommodations that Meet Your Needs

Depending on where you are staying, you may need to book a hotel or other accommodation. Hotels vary widely in their amenities and layouts, especially if you are traveling abroad, so think about your needs before you book. Look into the accessibility of the hotel you’re considering to learn important details such as:

  • Location
  • Elevator access
  • Proximity to transportation
  • Ramp access

While most hotels can accommodate a guest’s mobility, some places don’t meet modern accessibility standards. This could include fall hazards on stairs or uneven floors, or accessibility issues at the entrance to the hotel and to the rooms. Before booking a hotel, call ahead to make sure the hotel has elevators, and ask if the elevator is wheelchair accessible if you need it. If not, ask if they can accommodate a first-floor request.

Stay Healthy Along the Journey 

Long flights or car rides can often disturb your body’s regular schedule. From being seated for a long period of time to a lack of accessible drinking water, seniors can face health risks if they don’t take proper precautions. One of those serious risks for senior travelers is deep vein thrombosis brought on by lack of movement. It’s critical on long flights or drives to take frequent breaks to stand, stretch, and use the restroom every few hours.

Additionally, seniors should keep dehydration in mind when they are driving or flying at high altitudes. Make sure you bring a water bottle with you to stay hydrated. Don’t forget about eating either. Try to have a few snacks like fruit or nuts in plastic zippered bags to keep yourself nourished.

Take Advantage of Senior Discounts

Most travel destinations offer some form of discount for seniors, even if they aren’t widely advertised. From restaurants to airlines, you should always ask about what discounts are being offered, even if you don’t see posted information about one. Certain discounts are available for all seniors, while some might only be available to those who are members of AARP or AAA.

Try to Avoid Pickpockets and Theft 

Both domestically and internationally, seniors are often targets for theft and fraud. Whether you’re traveling alone or with a group, you should take precautions to protect yourself both inside and outside of your hotel room.

Many hotels have a safe inside the room that you can use to store your passport, jewelry, or excess cash. While not foolproof, you should consider keeping anything you consider valuable inside the safe as certain insurance policies require items to be properly stored to be insured.

Consider also investing in pick-pocket proof travel clothes and accessories. This could include zippered or hidden pockets and cross body bags for safely storing wallets and phones. Additional scams might involve credit card skimmers, ATM hawks, and more. Best practices involve staying aware of your surroundings and being cautious when making transactions or withdrawing cash.

Travel at Your Speed 

Many adventurous seniors have a bucket list trip that they’ve been planning for years. But before planning gets started, it’s critical to look at a trip realistically to see if your planned destination is doable for your health and mobility. When deciding on a place to visit, you should consider the following:

  • Area safety
  • Accessibility
  • Access to healthcare
  • Transportation

There are several ways to get around these issues if your dream destination doesn’t tick all the boxes. This could involve senior tour groups, all-inclusive resorts in the region, and extended stays to travel at a reasonable pace. While not every location will be easy to navigate, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your trip in a way that works for you.

Your Next Adventure Starts Here

Staying active is important for adults as they age to encourage a healthy lifestyle and reduce the risk of senior depression. From road trips to the Grand Canyon to group trips to the Vatican, traveling as a senior is essential to a long and prosperous life.

Looking for a senior housing option that meets your personal lifestyle and needs? Find out which senior living options are in your area or give us a call at 844-465-6063 to talk to one of our friendly staff members today.


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