Travel conjures idealistic images of exotic destinations, mouth-watering food, and awe-inspiring sights to see. Many older adults dive right into traveling upon retirement. However, as they age, there are some additional things to take into consideration for health and safety. Rather than discontinuing travel altogether, there are some precautions to take to ensure the experience remains enjoyable, safe, and fun.
As COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift as more of the world becomes vaccinated, we will be putting the pandemic in the rear-view mirror. Travel is sure to pick back up at lightning speed as people that have been cooped up for the past year are unleashed to explore the world again.
Senior Travel Trends
In the past decade, seniors have become more adventurous than ever; expanding horizons, flocking to airports, harbors, and train stations to begin new adventures. In fact, according to AARP, the Baby Boomer generation will soon dominate the travel market.
- 99% of all seniors are planning for some sort of travel in the future
- 45% of seniors plan for both domestic and international trips
- The most popular international destinations for seniors are Europe and the Caribbean. Domestically, Florida and New York rank the highest.
These statistics shine a spotlight on the massive presence of seniors willing and ready to travel the world. However, many aren’t seasoned travelers which can result in costly (and sometimes dangerous) mistakes being made.
Improper documentation, lack of insurance, medical complications, and poor planning are all factors that could cause mayhem on any adventure.
Planning For Success
A carefully-prepared plan is the best defense against mishaps that could lead to unnecessary stress. A plan is key to getting the most enjoyment from the trip as possible.
Get covered with travel insurance. Lost luggage, last-minute cancellations, or surprise medical expenses (especially in a foreign country) can and do happen. The best defense against these situations is having a good travel insurance policy in place before booking your trip.
Travel insurance mitigates the risk of:
- Cancellations — you’ll be fully reimbursed for non-refundable tickets.
- Interruptions — you have access to additional funds to cover emergency situations such as illness that prevents travel on the planned dates.
- Emergency expenses — emergency evacuations or medical attention at your destination are all covered.
- Lost luggage — if you show up to your destination to find that your luggage (with all your essentials) was lost, travel insurance provides you with funds to replace what was lost immediately.
Expect to pay between 4%-8% the cost of the total trip to be covered by travel insurance.
Don’t trust your current medical coverage. Most policies, especially those on Medicare coverage, don’t extend beyond the U.S. Check with your provider before you go. If you are traveling internationally without an international policy, travel insurance becomes even more important.
Get your documents in order. Be sure that your passport is current as no document is more essential to travel. A common mistake with passports is reading the expiration date incorrectly. For example, if you plan to travel in September and your passport expires in November, you may run into issues.
Some countries require that passports be valid for 3-12 months after arrival, regardless of the planned length of stay.
It’s important to verify the rules for the destination you plan to visit and check their requirements against your current passport. Some of the most popular destinations’ requirements:
- France — your passport must be valid for 6 months past the date of entry and an additional 3 months at departure.
- Germany — your passport must be valid for a minimum of 3 months at departure and contain at least 2 blank pages.
- St. Eustatius — your passport must be valid for a minimum of 3 months beyond the intended stay.
- Italy — your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months at departure.
If you’re unsure how to check the validity of your current passport, reach out to a local travel consultant. They will be able to provide expert guidance on what is required for your destination.
Know prescription limitations. Many seniors are on prescription medications that they need to take daily to maintain their health or control certain health conditions. However, many countries strictly regulate medications at border crossings.
Seniors traveling with prescriptions:
- Are only allowed to carry quantities for personal use up to one month.
- Must present a letter of proof from their physicians that verifies their need for the medication.
Some destinations may be more strict than these policies, so it’s important to check the regulations in your destination if you plan to bring prescription medication on your trip. One way to check is to contact the U.S. embassies to verify drug laws before you book your adventure.
Choose Destinations With Safety In Mind
Adventurous seniors might have a bucket list of countries they want to visit and haphazardly plan trips to these locations without giving a thought for safety.
It’s important to check your destination against the list of countries not recommended for travel by the US government and the Foreign Office, because of increased medical concerns, high crime rates, or active terrorism.
Before planning your trip, reach out to a U.S. embassy representative in that country to verify the current safety situation.
You may also want to consider booking a trip with a group. The group’s guide will provide safety recommendations and even shoulder some of the planning so you don’t have to.
When a trip is well-thought-out and thoroughly-planned, it can be the adventure of a lifetime. Take the above precautions to ensure you have a worry-free trip and make unforgettable memories.