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Horizons: traveling as a senior

From the tropical beaches of Hawaii to the warm, colorful vibes of Mexico. Who couldn’t envision enjoying a vacation? The options available to seniors are endless. As more and more people are reaching retirement age, the opportunities for seniors to get out and see the world are ever increasing. Covid-19 halted much travel but now that a vaccine is available, many are itching to explore new destinations or return to old ones. Or, perhaps you would like to visit family in a different state. Whatever sparks your interest in planning a trip, here are some considerations to inspire you along your exciting journey.

Planning. This stage of your vacation can be fun. Check out destinations that cater to seniors. The college kids crowd with loud music and drinking may not be the peaceful oceanside trip you envisioned. There are resources on the internet that can help guide you to select the perfect location. You can also check out travel packages that include transportation and lodging. Some resorts are all-inclusive with all meals included. Many resorts also have an activities center on site to coordinate interesting day trips including all transportation and food. Imagine a sunset dinner cruise or historic cultural event, all completely planned for you. You can also plan your stay with a special interest in mind such as golfing or bird watching. Safety is something you should take into consideration. Make sure to read some expert reviews on the area you are traveling to.

Make travel fun!

Join a travel club. If your home is in a senior living or retirement community, you may have access to travel groups to help inspire you. You don’t have to feel alone. Traveling in a group can make you feel more secure and give you some company. Members of these groups may have different levels of experience with travel and you can exchange ideas and information. There are many different types of trips a travel group may choose to plan. For example, if you live in Albuquerque, NM, you may enjoy outings to the city or day trips to Santa Fe. Or, a longer distance adventure perhaps even to a foreign country. Staying active with a group can be inspiring and bring much enjoyment especially. It also gives you the opportunity to make lifelong friends within your community and build memories together. Ask if your community offers a travel group.

Travel with family!

Another idea is to travel with an old friend or family member. Inviting a child or grandchild to accompany you can lead to memories neither of you will ever forget. Involve them in the planning process and map out the trip together. If you’re off to Mexico, you could arrange a fiesta planning session complete with chips, salsa and margaritas. Turn on some traditional music and start exploring together!

Senior discounts. Check into discounts for seniors as you plan your accommodations and activities. If you are into road trips, the National Parks system offers a lifetime senior park pass for those ages 62 or older. Ask for senior discount rates that may apply when booking your hotel, rental car or even an Amtrak ticket. There are also many ocean or river cruises that offer senior rates.

Health on the road

Covid-19. The recommendations from the CDC and state health departments are constantly changing. With the covid-19 vaccination now available to seniors, travel may soon be in reach. Continue to monitor CDC guidelines and take the extra precautions recommended such as wearing a mask or maintaining social distancing or anything else as the guidelines continue to change as needed. Make an appointment with your doctor prior to travel and discuss precautions you might need to take, as well as any additional medications or vaccines that may be recommended. Some countries may require covid testing upon entrance. This includes the United States. If this applies, make sure your destination has easy access to covid testing. Destination resorts may offer convenient on-site testing to ensure your return to the United States is effortless.

Health considerations. As you prepare for your trip, it’s a good idea to pack a copy of your medications list, medical history and allergies to medications in the case you may need to seek medical care abroad. Make sure you understand how your health insurance will apply to your upcoming trip and bring with you any required documentation such as your insurance card. You may have limitations in travel destinations if you have a health condition that may require immediate attention. If so, make sure the area you are traveling to has a hospital that can accommodate your health condition in the unfortunate event that you require medical care. Make sure to seek medical advice from your doctors prior to your travel plans.  If you have a disability, make sure you ask for the necessary accommodations for you or your family member. Airlines offer wheelchair assistance at the airport, for example, and can take you directly to the plane. Ask for a room that will accommodate your disability when you book the hotel or resort.

As you anticipate your upcoming trip, it can be fun to learn about the history and cultural significance of the region you will be visiting. For example, if Alaska is your destination, find a documentary of Alaska’s history and development. There are many travel channels and websites that can guide you through cultural considerations and local culinary favorites. Embrace the whole experience, relax with a cup of coffee and start dreaming! Take a few pictures to capture your trip so you can relive these moments when you return home.

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