Age is just a number, and life doesn't stop at 70. In fact, it's the perfect time to embrace adventure and explore the world like never before. Traveling in your senior years can be an incredibly rewarding experience, filled with new discoveries, cherished memories, and a profound sense of freedom. Let’s explore the joys and challenges of traveling when you're over 70 and provide tips to make your adventures as fulfilling and enjoyable as possible.
Embrace Your Wisdom:
One of the significant advantages of traveling in your senior years is the wisdom and life experience you carry with you. Your accumulated knowledge can help you navigate unfamiliar destinations, connect with locals, and truly appreciate the cultural and historical significance of the places you visit. Wisdom can also help you stay safe when unexpected things arise, be sure to listen to your inner voice! Family members should always have some idea of where you are and a way to contact you. Embrace your wisdom, and let it enrich your travel experiences.
Careful planning is key to a successful trip at any age, but it becomes even more important as we get older. Start by consulting with your healthcare provider to ensure you're physically fit for the journey and discuss any vaccinations or medications you may need. Choose destinations that align with your interests and physical abilities and create a flexible itinerary to accommodate your pace. The traveling public is out in force this year so there can be a lot of no-vacancy signs lit up. After 70 it’s not much fun to sleep in a car or the airport so make sure you have accommodations planned.
Traveling with a friend or family member can enhance your experience, offering companionship and shared memories. Having a travel buddy can also provide a safety net in case of any unexpected health issues or emergencies. Be sure to discuss in advance how you will handle expenses to prevent hard feelings. Even the best of travel companions sometimes do not want to do or see the same things. Having a “no hard feelings” plan in place can smooth the water when this arises. We have an “everyone is invited” rule. Companions talk about what they plan to do and anyone is welcome to join them. This is a great way to gain insight from someone else on the adventures that are available to them. It also leaves room for everyone to do their own thing without judgment or hard feelings—like the feeling of not being invited. Here is a link to a great story about two Eighty-one-year-olds, Sandy Hazelip and Ellie Hamby, inspired by Jules Verne's novel, "Around the World in 80 Days," are on a mission to see all seven continents, nine Wonders of the World and visit 18 countries in just over two and a half months. I personally loved the fact they don’t travel first class and if someone asks to join them they take a look to see if they have manicured nails–if they do they know they won’t fit in. These ladies are having a great time and they definitely have learned how–to not sweat the small stuff–when it comes to travel and life.
Pack Light and Smart:
Avoid overpacking by selecting versatile, comfortable clothing and essential items. Make sure to pack any prescription medications and essential health documents including your medical insurance card. Consider investing in lightweight luggage with wheels to ease the burden of carrying your belongings. You may want to take photos with your smartphone of essential information in case something is lost or want to lighten the load.
Be sure you know what you are purchasing with travel insurance, especially if you are traveling in a group. If you are like the 3 musketeers and if one person can’t go--then no one wants to go--you will need to question the insurance company closely about cancellation policies. While we were preparing to leave on a trip with friends one of our companions could not go due to health reasons. Unfortunately, they booked separately from us and we were staying in different cabins. Both the insurer and cruise line would not allow us to cancel our trip despite having travel insurance. It's nice to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers health emergencies, trip cancellations, and baggage loss. Just be sure the insurance you purchase meets your expectations.
Slow Down and Savor:
While some travelers rush to tick off as many sights as possible, seniors can afford a more leisurely approach. Savor each moment, immerse yourself in local culture, and take time to appreciate the beauty around you. Slower travel can lead to deeper and more meaningful connections with the places you visit. Be sure not to bite off more than you can chew. If you are taking a walking tour one day you may want to take a bus tour the next day.
When selecting accommodations and activities, pay attention to accessibility options. Many destinations now offer senior-friendly amenities, such as accessible transportation, hotels with ramps and elevators, and guided tours designed for those with mobility challenges. Americans traveling abroad may find more challenges when it comes to walking, wheelchairs or walkers depending on the destination you choose. If you have difficulties with mobility using a skilled travel agent with experience helping seniors is a sound decision.
Exploring local cuisine is an integral part of any journey. Be open to trying new dishes and savoring flavors you've never experienced before. One of my friends enjoys taking local cooking classes and eating meals provided by her fellow travelers—under the watchful eye of the local chef! These vacations generally have time for exploring and leisure. Just remember to be mindful of dietary restrictions and any potential food allergies.
Bring along a smartphone or a tablet with data or Wi-Fi access to stay connected with loved ones and access useful travel apps. This can also be a lifeline in case you need to contact emergency services. When traveling abroad be sure to talk to your phone carrier about data and voice plans--this can save you a lot of money. If you have a severe medical condition or take medication, you may want to invest in a medical alert device. It can be as simple as a wrist bracelet indicating you have a condition, or more comprehensive like a QR code that a medical professional can scan for possible lifesaving medical and contact information.
Cherish the Moments:
Remember, the joy of traveling lies not only in the destinations but also in the journey itself. Cherish the moments, embrace the unexpected, and relish every experience. Traveling over 70 can be a time of self-discovery, renewed vitality, and a celebration of a life well-lived. Go out there, explore, and let the world continue to amaze you!