Travel can become a “Fountain of Youth” for retirees: How to do it right

Many newly retired people look forward to traveling. When their working lives end, their travel bookings begin. With all the excitement surrounding planning a trip, it’s easy to forget what could go wrong. Even the most careful people make mistakes that derail their journey and cause lasting hardship. With the large number of retirees traveling, it is inevitable that some of them will regret their decision. According to AARP, Americans in their 60s spend the most on travel.

They plan to pay an average of $7,300 for a trip in 2023. Before booking your trip, do a sober analysis of how much you’ll have to pay and whether you feel comfortable making this commitment months in advance. “Understand payment terms and conditions,” says Matt Faucher, senior director of Road Scholar, a Boston-based nonprofit that offers educational travel programs. Many travel-related purchases are non-refundable, so know how much money you may or may not get back if your plans change. If the thought of losing your deposit stings, consider buying travel insurance. It’s a reliably profitable product line for insurers, but don’t let that stop you.

Standard trip cancellation insurance policies vary in scope and only cover you under certain circumstances. Expect to pay roughly 10% of the nonrefundable cost of your trip to secure coverage, although prices fluctuate based on many factors. Read: Traveling with grandchildren to see the world and ‘dream big’ You can pay even more for a “cancel for any reason” add-on to your policy. This allows you to change your mind at the last minute, perhaps because you fear the spread of the latest Covid variant.

These “cancel for any reason” policies will not give you a full refund. Instead of a partial refund, they may issue a credit so you can use some or all of the money for a future trip with the same travel company. The post-pandemic travel craze could spell trouble for quarrelsome retirees. If you have a health condition or physical limitations, use caution. “Understand your own physical capabilities as well as your expectations and physical needs for your trip,” says Faucher. “Some people underestimate their abilities and think they can do it. And then when they arrive, it’s too much. » As long as you’re fit enough to climb rough stairs, carry heavy bags and squeeze into planes and buses, it’s a good start.

The benefits of entering new worlds can grant enchantments that help offset the difficulties of entering those worlds. “To me, travel is like a fountain of youth,” said Rick Steves, 68, a travel writer and TV host. “And you become less afraid.” Author of popular guidebooks to Europe, Steves urges retirees to overcome fears, such as exchanging money and communicating in places where English is not the primary language. “These are outdated concerns,” he said.

The more pressing concern is tripping over your trip, he warns. Cobblestone streets will be problematic if you are not steady on your feet. Sidewalks can be dangerous. “Be careful when you walk,” Steves said. “Stop and look around you. Don’t look around while walking. With the rise of electric bicycles and cars in some parts of the world, you can easily walk down the street without hearing a car coming towards you. Slow down and pay attention before trying to pass. Steves highlights two threats that can ruin your trip and are fairly easy for retirees to avoid: heat and crowds. Check the weather reports for the places you plan to visit and think about how the temperature and humidity might affect you. “I like to hunker down when it’s colder,” he said. You’re less likely to face crowds in the off-season, and you can save money on flights and hotels.

“It can be a rude awakening if it’s hot and crowded,” Steves said. “And air conditioning may not be the norm” where you’re going. Before going abroad, check your passport’s expiration date. Some countries require your passport to be valid for six months after the date of your travel. “We have heard about delays by the [U.S.] State Department in renewing passports,” Faucher said. Even if you live near a national passport center, don’t expect door-to-door service to speed up your renewal process. You may have to make an appointment several weeks in advance.