Travel is a rite of passage for retirees who have outgrown the trappings of work or childrearing and have built up a nest egg to take on those travel experiences they’ve been craving. According to a report from Merrill Lynch, 95 percent of retirees would rather spend their money on experiences, than buy new things. Luckily, modern conveniences have made planning and travel to even the most exotic places more accessible and easier to manage for retirees seeking new travel adventures. But all those travel dreams can come with some unique challenges for retirees.
“Traveling in your 60s and beyond isn’t the same as traveling in your 20s,” said Beth Godlin, president, Aon Affinity Travel Practice. “Retirees savoring travel in their golden years may have different considerations and priorities for accommodations, food and destinations to factor into their plans. And while travel is full of joy and adventure, life’s hiccups can occur at any time. Managing them while traveling can be especially challenging.”
1. Give yourself plenty of time for connections – A slight delay from weather or repairs can leave you scrambling to your next gate to make your connection. Build in plenty of buffer time between flights, and familiarize yourself with your connecting airport to help you navigate more quickly. If you’re traveling internationally, understand where you will be clearing customs to ensure you have time for the process.
2. Understand everyone’s priorities – If your idea of the perfect vacation is hitting every major site, but your travel partner prefers a more relaxed pace and plenty of downtime, be sure to work out your concessions as you plan your trip instead of waiting until you’re at your destination.
3. Be realistic about what you can do during your trip – Travel is a physical experience – even if you aren’t going on a mountain hike. Simply walking up and down subway and station stairs, dragging luggage across terminals or climbing steep stairs to your charming hotel room can feel like a workout. Consider all aspects of your trip to make sure you plan an itinerary that fits your physical expectations and limitations, too.
4. Jet lag can be taxing at any age – You may have never made any accommodations for jet lag on either end of your trips in your younger days, but you may find your tolerance will change with age. Anticipate your need to adjust to a new time zone and recover on the way back, with scheduling that gives you room to rest.
5. Learn where you want to spend and where it’s safe to save – Whether you’ve saved enough to splurge or if you’re working on traveling with a very fixed budget, there are always spending decisions to be made. Find out what success looks like for your trip, and plan accordingly. Your travel partner may be happy to forego any souvenir shopping as long as he or she knows your lodgings offer room service, for example.
6. Longer the trip, bigger the baggage – When school schedules or work duties aren’t beckoning us back home, it opens up room for lengthier trips. Bigger trips often present greater preparation and can include upfront financial investment and risk. Given the complexity and price tag, explore trip protection to cover penalties and other non-refundable expenses you may lose if forced to cancel your plans.
7. Be ready for the unexpected – Be it a delayed flight, a lost passport or an untimely illness, travel can present challenges to test anyone’s patience. Travel insurance and protection benefits can help protect your financial investment, your belongings and your health during your adventures. But note, if you cancel your trip or need medical help, you may be required to see a licensed physician and provide documentation to claim your benefits, so review your policy before you depart.