At AirTreks we believe travel is possible for everyone. While we don’t think anyone should wait for retirement to give around the world and long-term travel a go, we don’t believe in age limits, either. You’re never too old, or too young to see the world.
We think that Rick Steves said it best in his piece on “Savvy Seniors” when he proclaimed “Travel is a fountain of youth.”
Because if anything will keep you young, it’s venturing out into the world on a regular basis. Besides, there’s so much about travel that comes easier with age. Scheduling, in particular, comes to mind. Forget cramming everything you can into two-week vacation slots that have to be taken at a certain time of year to coordinate with work and family obligations.
Retired and semi-retired seniors have the flexibility to choose not only where they go, but when and for how long. They can book a big multi-stop trip that lasts weeks, months, or even years, and coordinate plans to meet their families (and grandchildren) on a stopover somewhere warm (Bali, maybe?) for the holidays.
Of course, it’s only natural to have some initial misgivings about packing up and flying out. We get it. So we reached out to a few senior travel bloggers we know to get an insider perspective from older adults that travel regularly. Here’s what they had to say.
Traveling (As a Senior) is Flexible
All of the seniors we interviewed agree: traveling after your kids are grown, and you’re retired (or semi-retired) makes trip planning so much easier.
“We’re both retired, so time is no longer a factor when we plan a trip. We can travel farther, immerse ourselves into a new country, learn about the history and culture and visit the places we want to see while absorbing new experiences at our own pace. No more trying to cram everything into an annual two-week vacation and exhausting ourselves!” – Anita Oliver and Richard Nash of No Particular Place To Go
“Traveling as a senior means freedom. Now children are out of the nest, travel’s focused on what we’d like to do and see. There’s more money in the budget as well as time to travel. Seniors that are already retired (or working flexible jobs), have the option to extend travel into weeks, even months. Or they can sell everything and travel the world indefinitely. It’s all about freedom of choice.” – Donna and Alan L. Hull of My Itchy Travel Feet
Safety Doesn’t Live at Home (Or Anywhere, Really)
Whatever concerns you may have about traveling to other countries, the consensus among seniors who travel is simple: the world is a wonderful place, and danger doesn’t lurk in any one destination.
“We can’t live our lives worrying about, in most cases, unfounded fears.” – Arnie Jacobsen of Arnie and Jo Are On The Go
“ I think the perception of safety has a lot more to do with familiarity versus reality and a lot of U.S. residents perceive the world outside the U.S.A. to be much more dangerous than it is.” – Anita Oliver and Richard Nash of No Particular Place To Go
“Bad things can happen anywhere – in my town or across the world. But travel is one of the most empowering adventures on earth. If you’re afraid now there’s every chance travel will cure you of that fear – and of many others.” – Leyla Giray Alyanak of Women-on-the-Road
You Can Manage Your Medical Issues
Maintaining your health on the go can seem complicated for seniors, especially if you have a chronic health condition, but with some preparation and the right travel and health insurance, managing medical issues on the road doesn’t have to break the bank. Some even prefer treatment abroad, where the out-of-pocket expense can be substantially lower.
“We’re very fit and we have no special needs, but my wife has asthma, so she’s aware of triggers and prepared with appropriate measures to ease her reactions. We also purchase supplemental medical coverage to cover us on our trips” – Arnie Jacobsen of Arnie and Jo Are On the Go
“Before leaving on a trip, it’s important to check what health insurance will and will not cover. Medicare doesn’t cover health costs out of the U.S., but some supplemental policies do cover international travel. I also recommend a yearly membership in a medical evacuation program. Most travel insurance policies will take you to the nearest hospital. But members of medical evacuation programs are transported to the hospital of their choice, no matter the location. Depending on the emergency, this can save thousands of dollars.” – Donna and Alan Hull of My Itchy Travel Feet
“We decided to make travel our priority and work around health issues. Finding doctors when we’ve needed them during our travels has never been an issue and we’ve been pleased with the high level of care we’ve received when we’ve needed it. Our experience in many different countries has shown us that paying out of pocket is the most practical way to go. Dental care, for example, is usually cheaper than in the U.S.” – Anita Oliver and Richard Nash of No Particular Place To Go
“I feel that I am actually healthier when I travel because I usually get in more exercise walking here and there and just moving around, much more than when I am home, but I always take my medicines with me.” – Carole Terwilliger Meyers of Berkeley and Beyond
First Steps to Start Traveling as a Senior
So what’s the takeaway for would-be senior travelers? Getting started is the hardest part. From starting small with shorter guided or group trips, to heading to a foreign country where they speak English for a first trip, older travelers agree: the most important part is gaining confidence and the momentum to keep going.
“Like Nike says, just do it. Time is running out, for goodness sake!” –
Carole Terwilliger Meyers of Travels with Carole
“Take small steps out of your comfort zone at the beginning or take small group tours and let someone else guide you through places that you’re unsure of. It’s important to keep in mind that life still goes on just like if you’d stayed home – THINGS WILL GO WRONG and there will be some frustrating moments. Keep a sense of humor and imagine the story you can tell your friends later.” – Anita Oliver and Richard Nash of No Particular Place to Go
“For seniors who might be afraid to travel, my advice is to go with a group or book a cruise – river, ocean or adventure. After one or two group experiences, you’ll have the confidence to venture out on your own.” – Donna and Alan Hull of My Itchy Travel Feet
“Get up off the couch! You’re missing so much! If you’re interested in Europe, we often suggest visiting the UK first, so that at least the language issue is eased. Then branch out after that.” – Arnie Jacobsen of Arnie and Jo Are On The Go
Do you have experience traveling as a senior? Share your tips in the comments!