It seems that more seniors today are traveling than ever before. There are a number of reasons for this trend. The increased medical and health technologies are now enabling people to live longer, healthier, and more active lives. Not to mention that many seniors also seem to have a better sense of adventure than in the past, or are simply looking to tick things off their bucket list.
Time & Money to Spend:
During retirement, many seniors find themselves with a lot of time on their hands. Plus, after years of working and saving, they often have excess spendable income. In fact, another interesting trend is that the number of seniors living in poverty has dramatically declined over the last 20 years, from about 40 percent down to less than 10 percent today.
Another factor enabling more senior travel is the large number of places offering senior discounts. Many hotels, car rental agencies, travel companies, and even sights such as museums and parks, will give older travelers a nice price break, making things even more affordable.
Seniors also tend to like making their travel more comfortable. This means buying items like inflatable pillows, travel slippers, document pouches, etc… Plus, the majority of seniors will take several vacations each year, rather than working folks, who tend to bunch everything up into a single two week trip. Some seniors even decide to purchase a vacation home in an area they enjoy spending time.
Where Do Seniors Travel?
The travel choices made by seniors can vary dramatically. Guided tours are very popular, especially if there is an educational element to the trip. Many seniors are very interested in learning something when traveling, recognizing the value of keeping their mind active and engaged.
Of course, the most popular travel destination for seniors, almost across all age and demographic areas, is visiting grandchildren. With more than 80 percent of seniors today having grandchildren this only makes sense. According to an AARP survey, 68 percent of grandparents see their grandchildren every one to two weeks.
While they are with the grand kids, seniors enjoy a full range of activities. They have dinner (either in or out) watch TV, read together, do chores, play games of all types (board games, physical activity), and go to sporting events, parks and movies.
As we get older, we tend to remember and think about things we want to do and see. As a retired senior, this is clearly the best time for really starting to make a dent in our bucket list of things to do. This is a big part of why the list of senior destinations is so large and varied. You will find older travelers going everywhere from traditional boat cruises and bus tours to more unique travel experiences like mystery destinations and even murder mystery tours. Some even vacation with their grandchildren.
Senior Travel Tips:
Of course, specific travel tips will depend on the destination and even the type of travel intended. However, you should always try and visit during off-peak times, unless you don’t mind fighting hot (or cold) weather and crowds. If visiting Europe, for example, the best times to go are April through mid-June and September to October.
Consider having travel insurance, especially if going out of the country. Medicare is not valid out of the US, except under very special and restrictive conditions. You may want to look at a variety of plans before choosing, especially if there are pre-existing medical conditions.
When packing, try to go light. Take fewer clothing items and try to do laundry more often. Also, fit everything in a roll-on case rather than trying to haul a big bag. Also, bring an extra pair of eyeglasses, a magnifying glass for reading small maps, and even a small notebook to jot down important info (like your hotel room number or metro stop information).
If you use prescription medication, bring a full supply with you, ideally leaving them in their original containers. Trying to find medications in a foreign country can be difficult, so make sure you also know the generic names of all your prescriptions including the names of any equivalent medications just in case.
Older travelers might find that city buses and taxis are more comfortable and easier to use than subways. Metros tend to involve a lot of walking and climbing of stairs, so judge accordingly how you want to get around in your new location.
Seniors are a growing segment of the travel and tourist market. This means that as more and more seniors engage in travel, there will be more options. Being able to afford these luxuries, both in time and money, can make the elder years much more pleasant and exciting. Keep the above travel tips in mind and you should be able to get even more enjoyment from senior travel wherever you may roam.