Remember when people used to tell you to travel when you were young? That you wouldn't be able to fully enjoy it after retirement?
All that has changed.
Today, the travel world is filled with opportunities for seniors. And we’re not just talking about bus trips to casinos, though those can be fun, too. These days, travel-hungry seniors can plan almost any sort of trip; adventure trips, luxury trips, foreign trips, cycling trips, gourmet-dining trips, faith-based trips – no matter what sort of trip tickles your fancy, you can be sure that there will be a travel provider offering it.
The only limitation to travel is your imagination.
But that doesn’t mean that any trip will be perfect for you.
There are differences traveling during your retirement years, of course. But most of them are just common sense considerations. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to search out a travel advisor that specializes in travel for older people.
- a travel agency
- a group travel organizer
- the activities coordinator at a retirement community
- a friend who is an experienced traveler
One of our good friends just took his first trip to Europe at the age of 67. An inexperienced flyer, he was riddled with anxiety about how to navigate modern security in airports, how he would get by with no French in Paris, how he could learn about senior discounts at cultural sites, which were of particular interest to him.
Most would say that he was a perfect candidate for a tour group, but he isn’t big on the restrictions that come with traveling in a group.
So he went alone.
What sounded like a disaster in the making turned out to be a fabulous experience. The secret? He had a cousin living in Paris. Paul – the cousin – is a French native, but studied in the U.S., so he is fluent in English. More importantly, Paul was generous, willing to play host and tour guide during the whole three-week trip.
Most of us aren’t quite that lucky. Fortunately, there are hundreds of reputable resourced that can help you start planning your own trip.
Investigate online resources.
As you may already know, Rick Steves is the foremost travel writer in the U.S. today. He has a very helpful TV show on PBS. But his web site is a font of very specific advice for travelers who may feel a little insecure about traveling.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you might check out the Road Scholar web site. This organization specializes in trips that are more than just fun. They have an element of education to them, as well. At the moment, they are highlighting a pair of especially fascinating trips. One follows the route of the Lewis & Clark expedition across the northern U.S. The other leads you through the birding hot spots of Costa Rica. Name your continent or your activity and this highly respected group is sure to have something on offer.
Senior Women’s Travel is, as the name suggests, an agency that organizes trips for older women. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or searching for more intellectual pursuits, SWT is very likely to have something to suit your needs. Theater tours, culinary tours, walking tours of Paris. They even have a tour that takes you into the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter Festival.
There is no shortage of groups that can help you plan the perfect tour.
The Smithsonian Institution organizes them. Many church organizations do, too. If sports is a great love, it is entirely likely that your favorite college or professional sports team has outings put together just for fans.
But no matter how respected the group you may be dealing with is, make sure to ask plenty of questions.
- Will you need a visa in addition to your passport?
- Are credit cards routinely accepted or are you going to need ready access to cash?
- How about health conditions? Are you going to a place where you can turn on the tap and drink the water?
- If you’re traveling overseas, will you have an interpreter with you at all times?
- How many meals are included? How often will you have to fend for yourself?
- How about transportation from airports to hotels? Again, are you on your own or will there be people there to help you?
Despite what the skeptics say, traveling when you’re a little older can be a remarkable experience. Unlike when you were a kid, you now have the intellect and experience to understand the history of the things you see.
Traveling the world after retirement can be an achievable dream when it’s backed up by plenty of smart planning.