As vibrant senior citizens, Wayne and Verna Snell have traveled through or visited 14 states to spend time with their loved ones. The Snells’ permanent residence is Walnut Park Retirement Community, a division of Holiday Retirement in Visalia, CA.
As residents of Walnut Park, the Snells are encouraged to stay as long as two weeks with free overnight accommodations, meals and senior living amenities at any of Holiday’s 313 retirement communities in North America, including Hawaii and Canada.
“Seniors can be engaged and active,” said Kai Hsiao, Holiday Senior Vice President for Corporate Operations. “Seniors have entered a new chapter in life. Many have worked and did not have time to travel. Through Holiday’s Travel Program, our residents can visit new places with no cost for board or three meals a day.”
Holiday residents are fortunate to call one phone number to have their overnight accommodations and meals arranged. Most senior citizens are not as lucky. They worry about managing their health, safety, food and mobility requirements while traveling. Packing seems daunting and the thought of travel is tiring.
Ten Tips for Successful Senior Travel
To dispel these concerns and encourage seniors to travel, here are 10 easy tips for a safe, stress-free journey:
Decide Travel Goals
For seniors, it is not practical to hop in the car or plane and go. Impulse travel may lead to problems, such as forgotten medications and travel documents. Think ahead, several months if possible. Make a plan and write it down. Will you travel alone, with a significant other or group? Where do you want to visit? When? What is your budget? Do you have health restrictions or special food or mobility requirements? Think through every aspect of your trip.
Investigate Travel Options
Many travel options and senior citizen discounts are available. Research AAA, AARP, travel clubs, senior hostel programs, religious affiliations and Internet opportunities. Determine if travel by car, recreation vehicle, airplane, train, cruise ship, sailboat or bus meets your health requirements, travel goals and budget.
Determine Travel Essentials
Make a written list of every item you think you need. Put the list away. Another day, re-visit the list. Decide what you need to purchase, what you can leave home and what items you question. Investigate the climate of your destination. Check your luggage for broken zippers or damage. Learn which travel documents, such as passports, are required.
Secure At-Home Needs
Have a contact person keep a copy of your travel agenda, travel documents and medical requirements. Plan for family member, pet and plant needs. Decide how to secure your residence. Do you need to install an alarm system or lighting programmed on a timer? What is your plan for mail, newspapers and package delivery?
Prepare For Travel Expenses
Starting with your travel budget, decide how you will pay for your trip. Will most of your expenses be prepaid? Do you plan to use cash, credit cards, bank checks or American Express checks? If your travel is international, what is the currency of your destination? Research exchange rates. Determine if you want to purchase foreign currency while in the United States. Are credit cards and checks accepted at travel destinations?
Purchase Medicines, Safety And Health Supplies
Make a list of all medicines. Keep this list in your wallet. In case of emergency, the list is readily available. Place medications in clear plastic bags and bring them in hand-carry luggage. Do not ship medicines with luggage, as they may be lost. Be sure to include a First Aid Kit.
Consider Travel Insurance
Review your personal health care coverage. Does your policy provide coverage at your destination or along the way? If not, travel insurance is available. Policies vary, offering financial reimbursement for cancelled plane flights, lost baggage, illness, accidents and emergencies.
Whatever your mode of transportation, baggage can be cumbersome. Whether you are in perfect health or have back or other physical problems, you will be glad you left non-essential items behind. Be familiar with the climate of your destination, your planned activities and your comfort needs, such as sunscreen, sunglasses and hats. Decide what technology equipment to bring. Remember chargers, batteries and film.
Several weeks prior to departure, revisit your travel plan. Check off each item. Continue with your checklist until departure day. Make certain last-minute details are covered, such as a ride to the airport. Ask a contact person near your residence to be available for assistance while you are traveling.
Relax And Enjoy Trip
By following tips 1–9, senior citizens can continue to enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures—travel.
Written by Joan London, a freelance journalist and senior citizen from Baltimore who loves to travel.