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Never Too Old to Travel – Top Ten Considerations

When are you too old to travel? Never. Age has nothing to do with your ability to travel the world. Health does. Those are two separate issues that should never be confused.

I see a couple of travel trends, relating to age, that have blossomed in the past ten years. The first is that people in their twenties and early thirties are traveling the world and seeing as many sights as possible before settling down. The second trend is for older people, who have little to no travel experience, begin to travel later in their lives. Instead of taking one “trip of a life time” vacation upon retiring, people are traveling more often and venturing further afield following retirement.

I like the idea of people traveling as soon as possible as I believe it opens the mind and heart to different cultures and experiences. Even traveling within the same country will expand horizons and understanding of regional variances. However, for the purpose of this particular blog, I am going to focus on the older traveler.

Sometimes it is impossible for people to travel when they are younger as they have growing families, a lack of disposable income and other assorted issues that interfere with their ability to explore the world. More and more people are traveling later in life and enjoying a new found freedom to wander the globe because as stated, there is no age limit or prohibition on traveling when you are older.

In this day and age, there are trips to suit everyone from the athletic adventurer to the timid traveler who has never ventured outside their home area. Packages that ensure comfort and safety are available for the asking. Trips that test your physical limits and have you brave your fears are just a phone call or computer click away. Tours that look after every detail for you, contrast with those that boast open travel plans to ensure you enjoy flexibility in your holiday activities. No matter what your travel experience and comfort level, there is a trip for you.

If you are a person who has little to no experience in travel, then you might want to start with a trip that is basically an all-inclusive package. Something like a cruise, or a tour that is a combination flight/land bundle where everything is included. Your flights, ground transportation, hotels, meals etc. are all part of the deal. This will afford you the comfort of having everything arranged and being with a group.

If you are self-assured and confident in your ability to research and book your own travel, then simply take your finances, interests and physical abilities into consideration when booking. Compare your options such as a bus excursion versus walking tour of the Cotopaxi Volcano region in Ecuador. A river cruise along the Rhine versus a cycling tour in Amsterdam. Are you thinking hostel or five star accommodation? Bus, rental car, horseback riding? All options are available to you.

When planning to travel when you are older, here are some considerations:

  1. Your previous travel experience.

  2. Your comfort level with new situations.

  3. Your ability to deal with problems that might arise.

  4. The type of trip you want to take.

  5. Your intended destination.

  6. Your flexibility when dealing with language issues.

  7. Your ability to handle different foods or dining schedules.

  8. Whether you adjust well to new sleeping conditions or time changes.

  9. The level of activity you can tolerate in your daily schedule.

  10. The type of insurance will you need (insurance rates can be higher for older travelers).

Each of the ten points will be covered in detail in subsequent blogs but for now, I will touch upon some basic guidelines.

  1. If you have little or no travel experience, start simple. Plan a trip to a destination you really want to visit and consult a travel specialist who can provide advice or help you with the planning.

  2. If you are not comfortable with new situations, make sure your trip will not take you outside your comfort zone. It is all very well to encourage people to expand their horizons but if you know up front that you do not enjoy, or react well to new situations, then plan accordingly. A trip within your own country or a similar country versus travel to a country with massive cultural, religious, governmental and linguistic differences. Don’t plan a trip where you will be overwhelmed.

  3. St*t happens when you travel. You are delayed, medical emergencies arise, inclement weather, luggage gets lost or stolen etc. Think about your ability to deal with problems that might arise and that you will need to tackle. If you are uncomfortable addressing trip complications on your own, then opt for a trip under the umbrella of a group tour with a guide.

  4. Know your interests and expectations. Do you want an exotic trip to a far off destination versus a fall colours bus trip to look at the changing autumn leaves? A cruise or a bus tour? A road trip in your own vehicle as opposed to train travel? You decide on the type of trip you want to take. If you don’t want to fly, don’t take a trip that involves a long flight. Group or independent travel are also types of trips.

  5. Your intended destination is different from the type of trip you want to take. For example, having decided that you want to take a cruise, you then have to decide where you want to cruise. That fall colours bus tour could be to certain provinces in Canada, various northern US states or certain countries in Europe. Once you make a selection, you should learn as much as you can about your destination. Educate yourself.

  6. Traveling to a country where you do not speak the local language is easily “doable”. However, you have to be prepared in advance and approach communication with a sense of humour. If you feel uncomfortable going to a place where your primary language is not spoken, then you might wish to rethink your destination choice.

  7. If your body does not adjust well to change or to a different diet, you need to make that a consideration when planning your trip. You do not want to be dealing with stomach or digestive upset when on a trip. Have people accused you of being a selective eater? Ensure you will be able to get food that will accommodate your limited palate.

  8. Some people, myself included, can sleep anywhere, any time. But there are people who have difficulty adjusting to different sleeping locations. If you travel, you cannot change the fact that you will be sleeping in different rooms & beds, but you can mitigate potential problems by carefully choosing your room/cabin locations. If you need silence to sleep well, book a room away from high traffic areas (elevators, ice machines, facing the busy street etc.). Check out the location of that B & B or hostel. We once booked what we thought was a super deal in Prague only to find ourselves staying over a bar and having to listen to drunken revelers into the wee hours of the morning. Ask if you can have the type of pillow/bedding you like (feather versus foam, cotton sheets, wool blankets, soft versus hard mattresses etc.). Are you scoffing at the possibility of requesting a softer mattress? A rock hard mattress was easily resolved in China by a simple request for change at the front desk.

  9. I can’t stress enough, the importance of knowing your physical limitations. If your physical capabilities are limited, don’t expect a trip will change that. Don’t think you will suddenly be able to hike steep hills when you have difficulty with stairs at home. If you are subject to motion sickness, then that cruise you are considering might need some advance preparations such as carefully selecting the time of year you are traveling to a specific location (such as avoiding the Caribbean during hurricane season). Taking care with regard to the positioning of your cabin on the ship and consulting with your doctor for possible medications to assist you, will help you enjoy your cruise and address, in advance, possible physical challenges you might face.

  10. Consider your insurance options. If you have some pre-existing health issues, ensure you know if you are covered by your insurance and what your coverage entails. Make sure that any health concerns or limitations are discussed with your doctor so that if something does happen, you can demonstrate that your doctor was consulted and approved the travel. Do you have trip delay or cancellation insurance (specifically the type that covers the inability of your travel companion to accompany you etc.)? I believe in travel insurance for all travelers but specifically for older travelers where the possibility of a trip cancellation, or change, is greater.

Obviously this list does not include money or health, both of which are always major issues. But if you consider these points in advance of your trip, you will select a vacation that will suit you and lead to successful, enjoyable travel.

Have a great trip!

If you have any comments or travel tips, please leave them on this blog or contact me at:

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