You’re never too old for an adventure—whether you’re relaxing on a cruise ship, taking the grandkids away or exploring the scenery closer to home, put your health first with these senior holiday tips
As you grow older, you may find yourself with a more extensive list of things to consider when planning a holiday. From prescription medication to quality travel insurance, these tips will keep your health in check and verify that travelling only gets better with age.
Manage Your Medication
Thousands of people travel with medication each day—the key is to be prepared. Before planning a trip away, have a check-up with your doctor—especially if you use prescription medicine. Request enough to cover your trip as well as a surplus supply in case of emergencies. Your doctor will also be able to answer any questions that you may have, advise you on how to manage your routine, and assist you with any medical notes or vaccinations that you might need.
Remember, different countries have different rules on what is considered a ‘controlled substance’, how much is allowed, and how it needs to be declared, so do your research. You should always keep a copy of your prescription on hand and carry any medication or equipment in its original, correctly labeled packaging. When you arrive you can transfer enough for your stay into a pill-box. Pack the majority in your main suitcase but have a supply in your carry-on bag, just in case the airline loses your luggage.
The presumption that retired people have large amounts of disposable income is often false. However, retirement does bring with it a flexibility to travel outside of the usual time constraints and book in the ‘shoulder seasons’ between high and low times, avoiding peaks.
Senior travellers can take advantage of low season prices and enjoy quieter trips with cooler weather—ideal for sightseeing. Keep in mind that certain retreats, such as ski holidays, will not operate on the typical seasonal schedule.
When looking to save money on your holiday, try scouring the Internet for deals, keeping an eye out for senior citizen discounts or concessions and calling up providers before you book. Often, if you don’t ask, the discount won’t be applied.
Consider booking your trip well in advance to save on travel prices and research any ticket schemes that may be available, such as the senior rail card if you’re catching the train.
If you have a health issue, disability or low mobility, you may need to do your own research to secure facilities that will make it easier for you to get around. For example, most cruise ships are very disability-friendly, but the London tube network will be less accommodating.
It’s important to plan your holiday itinerary in advance, checking locations for the likes of step-free access, lifts and ramps. If you are travelling in the UK, check that your accommodation complies with the National Accessible Scheme (NAS). Overseas, you could schedule a guided coach tour or plan your holiday with a specialised operator.
Solo or Guided?
Solo travelling is having its moment, and many older travellers are choosing to go abroad alone on group tours or cruises.
When travelling alone, make sure that a family member or friend is informed of your holiday itinerary and that you notify a staff member of your daily excursions. Check local customs online before jetting off and plan transport in advance.
Make sure to never flash your wallet or advertise that you are unaccompanied, as this may make you a target to pickpockets or thieves.
There are also benefits to a guided holiday, where the stress of booking hotels, transport and excursions is taken off you. An expert tour guide can introduce you to local landmarks, cultural highlights and experiences you might otherwise have missed, and the social element of guided group travel can be one of its most enjoyable aspects.
As you get older, you may notice that the cost of insurance cover increases. Some insurers do not cover those in the senior age bracket at all, so it’s important to shop around and compare prices to find the best package. The ‘best’ may not be the cheapest option however, particularly if you’re of a certain age.
Seniors need quality travel insurance that will cover any existing medical conditions and protect them from unforeseen circumstances. More expensive policies will often include added benefits not offered to younger travellers or those travelling with medical concerns.
Remember, certain activity-based trips may require a special form of cover; even reasonably safe ventures like safaris. When choosing insurance, read the fine print and check policies carefully before making a commitment. Know what you’re covered for and whether there are any maximum age limits enforced by the provider.
It is very important to declare all medical conditions that you may have. If you do not, the company has a right not to pay out in the event of a claim.
The ‘Grey Gapper’
A newly coined term, ‘Grey Gapper’, describes someone over the age of 55 who has decided to take a ‘gap year’. Think less of partying students, more about visiting those places that you may not have had the opportunity to when you were younger or had a full nest at home.
Many travellers in later life are ticking off their to-do lists. A survey by the Post Office revealed that 13 percent of ‘grey gappers’ had partaken in an extreme activity such as bungee jumping, water skiing or parasailing.
If you’re planning multiple trips over a 12-month period, a multi-trip insurance policy may be the best option for you. These policies can save you time and money and usually allow an unlimited amount of trips in a specific timeframe.
Your Travel Checklist
When holidaying as a senior, there will likely be some extra preparations that you’ll need to consider:
- Luggage: Make sure that you aren’t struggling with the weight of your suitcase and ask for help if needed
- Spares: Ask yourself if you need to pack an extra pair of reading glasses, or spare batteries for your hearing aid etc. in case they get lost or damaged when travelling
- Comfort: Pack a blanket and pillow if you’re travelling for an extended duration
- Car hire: As with insurance, rental companies will differ in how they treat people over a certain age
- Clothing: Pack appropriate outfits for the designated climate and research whether your accommodation has laundry facilities—you may be able to pack lighter if so
- Protection: Depending on your destination, you may need to carry mosquito repellent or protective sunscreen when on holiday
- Safety: Pack a medical kit with bandages, antiseptic, sterile syringes, electrolyte sachets and diarrhoea and constipation tablets
Why Consider Going Guided?
Guided travel help keep your mind, body, and spirit healthy through multiple ways:
- Mind – You’ll be able to rest your mental muscles and just take in the sights and sounds of new places, with your itinerary being planned for you, your hotels booked and your driving taken care of.
- Body – You’ll feel great without feeling over-exerted when you walk through incredible cities or exotic locales, and then rest and rejuvenate at your accommodation with built-in free time.
- Spirit – Shaking hands with new friends in distant places, seeing stunning landscapes you’ve never seen before, trying a delicious new dish—all of these experiences feed the spirit.
Visit collette.com/deardoctor or call 0800 060 8093 for more information.
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