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Maybe you’ve worked your whole life to save up for the post-retirement dream vacation. Or perhaps the kids are treating you to a special trip! No matter how it comes together, the important thing is that you’re doing exactly what you want to do.
Live a little–or a lot–during your retirement and find your next adventure! Whether you need a little help with those travel plans or are simply curious about the vacation basics, Kim Holland, travel consultant with Martin Travel, shares a few great tips with us:
Why should I consider a Travel agent?
Retirees may want to consider booking through a travel agent. Their services offer loads of protection during your travels. If you happen to get stuck abroad, you can call your travel agent for help. Hard to do that when you’ve booked online yourself and aren’t sure what to do next! Agents are another line of security to ensure your safe return. Travelers also get the expertise and knowledge that comes with trusted professionals ready to help with your needs.
If you are interested in traveling, but are unsure of where you’d like to go, an agent can pinpoint great options that fit to your wants and budget. They’ll help narrow down timelines as well as what might work best with your mobility, if necessary.
What if I’m on a Budget?
There are still plenty of great ways to travel even if you don’t want or have thousands of dollars to spend. Cruises are a great option for seniors on a budget or who have mobility issues. Travelers can pay an inclusive fee and have all their meals and entertainment provided, along with fashion shows, breakout clubs with music and dancing, bingo, and many more activities.
Many bus companies can also schedule local day or weekend trips, which feels like a vacation but doesn’t cost as much as a big trip. Be sure to consider the quality of the tours, as many offer different calibers of travel (and watch out for any last minute add-ons, which will add on to your budget considerably).
What are Current Travel Trends for Retirees?
Three big destinations for retirees that Kim sees lately are Alaska, Hawaii and Europe. Alaska is popular for a number of reasons. For one, it’s in the United States, so it’s easier to travel within our borders. For another, it’s absolutely gorgeous.
“There’s something about that unknown and untouched that draws people in,” Holland says. “It’s hard to imagine it even being part of our country because it’s so different. They still have the barter system in place and people live out in the wild. There are more airplanes than cars in Alaska!”
Holland says many retirees are also doing hiking and biking trips, generally in Europe or Asia. Visitors will hike or bike between villages, stopping in certain places for nice meals, activities such as cooking classes, or to see the sights. This popular option is best for mobile seniors who want to explore and be hands-on with their surroundings.
What if I’m not that Mobile?
For retirees who might be in a wheelchair or simply unable to walk miles a day, there are still great travel options. Bus tours can be strenuous to mild, using up energy as you load and unload from the vehicles. Holland highly recommends riverboat cruising for those who want to visit a new place but want that comfort level of not having to pack and unpack everyday. You’ll still be able to get off the boat at your convenience to tour new areas along the route, but why not simply enjoy the scenery along the river?
Your meals are also taken care of, as well as the guided tours with a sense of security. Holland also suggests sticking to one or two places on your travels as opposed to several at one time.
What if I don’t want to Travel Alone?
Holland actually recommends all retirees (and single women, for that matter) travel in groups. While an escorted tour isn’t for everyone, it may be ideal for your post-retirement vacation. Group tours do plan your schedule, but will allow you free days with the option to fill in at your own discretion.
It provides not only a sense of security, but comfort in knowing your schedule is planned for you. Someone will handle your luggage, many of your meals are included and your guide can even help with things like dinner arrangements. In addition, retirees might meet some great new friends, experiencing camaraderie as you share your adventures!
How can I stay Safe During my Travels?
Here are some great tips to remember: first off, never carry all your money or credit cards with you. Put a majority of it in the safe; this way, if anything is lost or stolen, you still have cash to get you through the rest of your trip. Carry only one credit card on you, with your backup not on your person. The same goes for your passport, which can get particularly hairy in an unfamiliar country. Make a copy of your passport and keep the real one in your travel safe.
The second big piece of advice is to get travel insurance. While this can equate to about eight percent of your travel total, it’s an important piece that may save your life. Holland has more than a few stories of senior citizens who were injured while on a trip; for example, if you break a kneecap and wind up in the hospital, their insurance provides a nurse who will come out to you, work with your doctor, and fly back to your hospital to ensure you’ve made it home safe. Medicare won’t cover you in Europe, but your travel insurance money goes a long way should something happen on your trip.
When Should I Book my Trip?
Holland recommends booking earlier rather than later. Six to nine months in advance is ideal so you can get exactly what you want, when you want to go. An agent can also help with any questions on the right times of year to visit, the weather, and so on.