Remember that senior travel bucket list that you started years before your retirement?
Perhaps you envisioned hiking the colorful Grand Canyon, sipping champagne while cruising down the majestic Rhine, or searching for black rhinos on an East African safari.
Finally, you can shift focus from your family obligations to yourself. You have plenty of free time for some self-indulgent travel and know that you’d truly enjoy the adventures.
Realistically though, you might have doubts about pulling off some of those dream vacations. As a senior, you’ve developed some… ahem… “limitations”.
Constraints such as budget, fitness and flexibility, dietary restrictions, travel security, or the absence of a senior travel companion may muddle your travel image now.
In this guide, you’ll find a variety of resources to help plan your senior travel, regardless of your limitations. We’ll also uncover some test-driven travel tips for seniors that’ll renovate your travel mindset and enable you to see what the world has to offer. On your terms!
How Senior Travel Enhances Your Health
Don’t you love the energy that bubbles out of a friend who just returned from a vacation?
Travelers typically have loads of pictures to share and enthusiastically tell stories of their adventures. Unique experiences like cooking and eating different foods, overcoming a particular challenge, or learning how others live are all part of the fun.
Aside from the sheer joy of travel, there are many physical and emotional benefits of getting away from home. Arguably, seniors should travel to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Travel naturally offers more chances for seniors to be active and mobile, with clear health benefits. Movement and scenery changes improve seniors’ psychological health by dodging boredom, depression, and stress.
Senior travelers gain knowledge and understanding of other individuals or cultures and enjoy strengthened relationships with their travel companions. They also enjoy a renewed sense of adventure and a boost of self-confidence.
How Senior Travel Blogs Can Kick Start Your Virtual Road Tour
Perhaps you’ve considered traveling, but have no idea where you’d like to visit. Or, maybe you have so many destination ideas that you can’t decide where to start!
Why don’t we kick-start this wanderlust of yours with some virtual inspiration?
Search online for travel blogs to discover some fun travel ideas. Senior travel blogs provide in-depth relatable advice and information that’s realistic for older vacationers. Explore posts about bloggers’ experiences to drum up some inspiration for your first trip.
- Poke around Donna Hull’s baby-boomer-focused vacation reviews on My Itchy Travel Feet. Information by travel theme (cruises, romantic getaways, active travel, road trips, etc.) or destination is easy to find on this well-organized site.
- Light-hearted posts by sisters Kay Dougherty and Anne Reilly on Blonde Brunette Travel offer some animated reading of their own travel experiences.
- Cruise through Clark Norton’s senior travel blog site to uncover practical tips and expert advice specifically for baby boomers (and thereabouts) from this prolific travel journalist.
- Senior blogs such as Boomeresque frequently review travel destinations and modes of transportation, offer travel tips, and recommend travel products specifically for senior travelers.
Senior Travel Companies Help You Choose Your Adventure
Once you start to develop a trip concept, you’ll still need some guidance on how to zero in on your plan for the best senior travel experience possible.
Organized tour companies offer some of the best vacations for seniors. Their expertise helps to relieve the burden of completely planning your vacation. They also provide the intangible bonus of safety and security of senior group travel, especially for inexperienced or solo travelers.
Become familiar with your options by reviewing group tour offerings specifically for seniors. Take note of costs, modes of travel, activities, accommodations, and itineraries.
Your research will introduce you to excursion possibilities for your trip. Even if you ultimately decide not to travel with an organized tour, create an activities wish list to share with a tour agency or to refer to for your own independent planning guide.
If you decide to tour with a group, make sure you review Retirement Living’s The Best Senior Tour Companies of 2022 for their top senior tour group recommendations prior to booking reservations.
Benefit from the Wisdom & Experience of Other Senior Travelers
Need more travel inspiration? Consider joining a senior travel club that suits your particular interests. Many local social travel clubs host guest speakers who present specific trip-related information to their members. These events are a great way to meet experienced travelers and learn about their firsthand experiences, providing insight and inspiration for future vacation ideas.
If you have specific travel needs, look to online groups that focus on preferences, such as modes of travel, shared interests, demographics (like women-only Adventures in Good Company), or physical requirements such as accessible travel.
Online hospitality co-ops save lodging costs for members of online travel groups such as Boondockers Welcome for campers and RVers and The Affordable Travel Club. Stay as a guest in another member’s house or location in exchange for hosting other members at your home.
Search the web and Facebook to find and join free or low-cost travel groups that suit your needs and interests, but be wary of any offer that sounds too good to be true.
How Do Single Seniors Travel? Buddy System Options!
For senior travelers, the old adage “safety in numbers” most certainly applies. The idea of single senior travel can feel especially vulnerable and overwhelming, especially for inexperienced tourists.
The security and companionship inherent with traveling with a friend or group can help seniors traveling alone. Single seniors who opt to travel this way often feel more at ease, take advantage of unique group experiences, and ultimately enjoy their vacation more.
To find a senior travel companion, consider asking a friend or a former colleague if they’d be interested in taking a trip with you. Or, investigate the list of senior cruise and special interest tour options mentioned in Senior Planet’s Seniors Traveling Solo: Some Great Solutions.
Road Scholar is an educational travel tour group for adults who enjoy the same interests or hobbies. Their organized special interest tours often offer optional private lodging at no extra cost for single travelers.
If a travel companion or group is not your thing and you’d rather go it alone, consider AARP’s helpful single senior travel tips in 7 Practical Safety Travel Tips for Traveling Alone and 6 Tips for Women Traveling Solo.
21 Senior Travel Tips to Pack Into Your Itinerary
Let’s take a look at some additional travel tips, especially for senior travelers.
Your health and well-being are imperative to an enjoyable and uninterrupted vacation. Discuss your travel plans with your physician to see if there are any concerns about pre-existing physical conditions. Be sure to share your itinerary, mode of transportation, and length of time you’ll be traveling.
- Depending on your travel destination, you may require vaccinations. Check with your physician that the vaccinations are safe for you.
- Plan to wear compression stockings, drink plenty of fluids and move around every hour or so on long flights to avoid potentially serious blot clots. Senior air travelers are more prone to DVT than younger travelers.
- Share your travel itinerary and contact information with family members and friends. Conversely, be sure to carry contact information for your support group back home should you need medical or other assistance.
For a smooth, stress-free vacation, it’s important for seniors to satisfy their physical and personal care needs and comply with local and travel regulations while away from home.
- If you’re one of the estimated 80% of seniors who take prescription medications, order and pack an ample supply of your prescribed meds for the length of your trip. Allow sufficient time before your trip to request refills from your doctor or pharmacist.
- Individual state laws may require proper labeling of prescription medications, so it’s best to play it safe and carry your medications in their original containers. Order pharmacy refills with a special request to fill them in smaller space-saving bottles.
- For air or rail travel, pack medications in your carry-on bag to assure you have ready access. Check TSA regulations and procedures regarding any medically required liquids.
- Carry photocopies of your eyeglass and medical prescriptions. Alternatively, store scanned documents on Google drive so you can access them on your phone.
Most special needs such as mobility or supplemental oxygen can be overcome with some advance research and travel arrangements.
- For those with special mobility or medical needs, the Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality’s Travel Tips and Access Information page has a wealth of helpful information and shared experiences related to accessible travel.
- Special needs group Special Needs At Sea is an organization that provides wheelchairs, scooters, and other specialty item rentals for cruise line guests.
- Become familiar with your travel provider’s regulations and requirements regarding the use of portable supplemental oxygen units during travel. Requirements vary among airline providers, rail providers, and cruise lines so gather information relative to your needs before booking.
- FAA-approved portable oxygen units can be rented from most oxygen supply companies.
Air & Water travel
If air travel or a cruise is on your itinerary, here are some additional tips that will make your travel more comfortable:
- To minimize the risk for sea sickness, select cabins in the middle of a cruise ship on the lowest deck.
- Lost luggage has a better chance of getting returned to you faster if a copy of your itinerary and contact information is inside.
- Read seat reviews and maps on SeatGuru (by TripAdvisor) for help selecting more comfortable seats on your flight’s aircraft.
- Consider booking your travel during the time of day that you have the most energy. Typically, mid-morning or early afternoon flights suit senior travelers’ energy levels.
- If possible, book direct flights to minimize the risk of a missed connection.
- Save big on parking at major airports by booking ahead on Parkon.com. Most scenarios require taking a shuttle from/to an offsite lot.
- Smaller regional jets may require boarding passengers to climb a flight of stairs. Special boarding accommodations are possible but can be avoided on alternate aircraft.
- Did you know that airlines are required to provide free wheelchair service for any traveler that requests it? TripSavvy’s How to Request a Wheelchair or Cart at an Airport advises arranging at least 48 hours in advance for wheelchair assistance.
- If you are a senior traveling alone, assure that you’ll be able to lift your own carry-on luggage into the overhead of the plane.
- Airline passengers who are 75+ years old may leave their shoes and jackets on during TSA screening. To save additional time during screening, apply for a 5-year PreCheck pass for $85.
- If you have airline provider options, research to see if an alternate airline offers senior discounts prior to booking. Weigh potential savings versus the convenience that another airline may provide.
Travel Perks: Why It Pays to Be a Senior
As a senior, you have plenty of it. At least more free time than most other travelers.
Your flexible schedule has its advantages when booking travel. You’re available to take your vacation during off-peak or off-season travel times, which can:
- Save you money, and
- Reduce the number of other tourists at your location. This translates into smaller crowds and less stress.
As an unseasoned senior traveler, you may have some sticker shock when you peruse airline or cruise line fares and may be reluctant to dip into your savings.
You worked hard and saved for this time of your life. Allow yourself to enjoy this time and follow through with what you’d like to experience in life. Don’t allow perceived high travel expenses to steer you away from enjoying a vacation opportunity.
Senior Travel Discounts + Savvy Scheduling = Big Savings!
Senior discounts and savvy scheduling can reduce your travel costs significantly. It’s no secret that the airlines bump up the fares around the high-demand holiday travel days.
Other travel and hospitality providers like hotels, resorts, and cruise lines apply the same supply-and-demand economics to their pricing structures.
Take advantage of off-peak travel opportunities and schedule your trip accordingly. You’ll realize some big savings and enjoy a quieter crowd.
Obvious trade-offs need to be considered, though. If you book an off-peak vacation to Washington, D. C. in January, don’t expect to enjoy the iconic sights and smells of cherry trees in bloom!
However, if the Grand Canyon is on your wish list, you’ll enjoy cooler temperatures during a wintertime off-peak visit. You’ll more easily navigate the South Rim when there are fewer tourists around, and enjoy reduced park lodging rates.
As a senior, you can realize many age-related travel discounts or perks without sacrificing quality. AARP members (50+ years), for instance, are eligible for 45 Senior Travel Discounts on unique travel and accommodations.
You’ll find savings on dining out costs on The Senior List’s 2022 Senior Discounts On Restaurants. Some discounts vary by location, so confirm with your server that your senior discount will be honored. (Ordering water instead of other beverages saves in the long run too!)
Wherever your ventures take you, be sure to inquire about age-related discounts. It doesn’t cost anything to ask, but could rack up some impressive savings over time!
Build Your Limitations into a Successful Senior Travel Plan
Limitations such as cost or physical conditions are realities. But they needn’t block relatively healthy seniors from pursuing and fulfilling their lifelong travel dreams.
Seniors just like you are on the move! With some flexibility and careful planning, they’re experiencing fulfilling senior travel that meets their personal requirements.
You owe it to yourself to join them and convert some of your own travel bucket list dreams into realities!
The first step is to list your “limitations”. Note any other concerns you have about travel for yourself or your senior travel companions. Set aside any preconceived travel objections to creatively envision how you could take a short trip.
Next, delve into senior travel blogs, senior travel groups, and even tours for seniors traveling alone noted in this guide. Consider destinations or experiences that may be slightly different from vacation ideas you’ve had in the past.
Remember, flexibility is the key to success senior travel. Your personal travel requirements may warrant special arrangements, but there are accommodation solutions for most scenarios.
Reach out to specialized travel agencies, senior travel clubs, and groups to help manage special needs and uncertainties. Collectively, they have the experience and knowledge to help you plan and meet your senior travel requirements.
Before long, your travel plans will become reality. You’ll be enjoying the first of many adventures in your retirement!
Your “Someday” has arrived! Bon voyage!