Summary: Traveling in your golden years can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. As a retiree, it’s important to take steps to make traveling as stress-free as possible. In this article, we’ll highlight some tips to make traveling in retirement as carefree as possible. Estimated Read Time: 9 min
Table of Contents:
- Be Aware of How Travel Destinations Are Changing
- Stay Apprised of Travel Advisories
- Consult With Your Doctor
- Consider Options for Improving Your Physical Comfort During Travel
- Become a Strategic Sleeper
- Consider Activities That Will Promote Health
- Be Wary of Travel Scams
- Consider Booking a Guide
- Sign Up With the STEP Program
- Ensure That Your Home Is Secure
- Set Up Opportunities To Receive Passive Income
- Avoid Large Debts That Could Hinder Travel
Retirement is the perfect opportunity to take time to travel. Traveling can have many positive effects on your health including improvements to your mental and physical wellbeing. Experiencing new cultures and visiting scenic destinations can improve cognitive flexibility while reducing stress. Exploring new areas is also a great opportunity to engage in physical activity while having fun.
There are many benefits to traveling in retirement, however, retirees may face some unique challenges compared to younger travelers. Older adults may have health conditions or illnesses that limit the distance or timeframes in which they can travel. For retirees who didn’t travel much while working, it may be challenging to understand how travel has changed over the past few years.
Though retirees may face some challenges when it comes to travel, proper preparation can help make travel more enjoyable and less stressful. Below, we’ll discuss some steps you can take to make traveling in your golden years as carefree as possible.
Some popular travel destinations have changed over the years. If you’ve been waiting until retirement to travel to a particular destination, you should take time to look at recent photos and information to ensure it’s still a place you’d like to visit.
Many travel destinations have changed over the years. Changes can include environmental changes and changes in popularity. For example, many travel destinations, such as Santorini, Greece, saw a big boom in tourism due to social media influencers. So big, in fact, that some of these destinations have become overcrowded with tourists. Other destinations, such as Hong Kong, China, have become less popular for travel due to environmental factors such as poor air quality.
When researching your travel destination, look for information that is recently published and up to date. Be aware of travel advisories and restrictions specifically placed on tourism and tourists.
To have an enjoyable and safe travel experience, it’s imperative that you are aware of any travel advisories for your destination. The U.S. Department of State issues travel advisory levels that indicate the relative safety of travelling to or visiting specific foreign countries or destinations. Travel advisory levels range from one to four, with level four being te the most dangerous and labeled as “do not travel”.
When planning to travel abroad, make sure to check for any travel advisories and sign up with STEP so you can receive notifications about new or changing advisories.
Before you begin traveling frequently as a retiree, you should consult with your doctor about your healthcare needs. Take time to review any illnesses or conditions you have, as well as any prescriptions you may be taking. Be mindful that if you receive care while traveling, you will want to provide as much information regarding your healthcare needs as possible.
Consider preparing a card that includes information such as any allergies, chronic conditions, medications, and other important medical information. Keep this card with you while you travel in case you need to receive healthcare while away from home.
For those who take medications, you will want to make sure you have enough of your medication to last you through your travels. This becomes increasingly important for those who travel for extended periods of time. If you’re planning a long trip, talk to your doctor about it so they can prescribe the appropriate quantity.
Regardless of where you’re traveling, it’s important to be properly insured. Most retirees will be eligible for Medicare coverage; if you are eligible and haven’t applied yet, you can apply for Medicare online. If you have Original Medicare, you can use your coverage at any hospital or healthcare provider in the U.S. that accepts Medicare. Since Medicare coverage cannot be used outside of the U.S., if you plan to frequently travel abroad, you may consider a Medicare Supplement plan that includes foreign travel emergency care.
As you age, you may experience more physical discomfort when traveling. Fortunately, there are actions you can take and accessories you can purchase to improve your comfort during travel.
Dress comfortably for traveling. This can include wearing pants with an elastic waist instead of pants that require a belt or wearing loose-fitting clothing instead of tight clothes. You may also consider wearing a pair of compression socks to reduce swelling in your feet when you have a long trip.
Travel accessories can also help make your trip more comfortable. Accessories such as neck pillows and travel blankets can help keep you comfortable and make it easier to get rest while traveling. Eye masks and noise-canceling headphones can also make your trip more comfortable.
Traveling can have a significant impact on how and when you sleep. This impact becomes even more significant when you are traveling to and from different time zones. As a frequent traveler, it’s important to become a strategic sleeper to ensure you are getting enough sleep each day.
According to the National Institute of Health, sleep deficiency is linked to many chronic health issues including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and depression. As a retiree, it’s important to acknowledge the importance of getting enough sleep and take action to reduce sleep deficiency.
Some ways you can become a strategic sleeper include:
- A few days before traveling, slowly start adjusting your sleep schedule to match your destination’s time zone.
- Try to match the sleep schedule of the people in your destination (unless you’re staying for two days or less).
- If you’re staying at your destination for two days or less, try to keep to your own schedule.
- Start your mornings with some exercise to help signal to your body that it’s time to get going.
Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle remains important, even while traveling. When making travel plans, consider how you can continue to meet your health goals during your trip. Incorporating activities such as walking tours, scenic hikes, and other outdoor activities can help you stay physically active on your trip.
Traveling often involves a lot of sedentary activities such as sitting in a plane or sitting at a restaurant. It’s important to incorporate physical activity into your travel plans to ensure you continue to promote your health and wellbeing.
Don’t forget to also consider any limitations or specific needs related to your health. For example, if you are unable to walk for extended periods of time, you may want to budget for taxis or other means of transportation. This can be an especially important consideration when traveling to areas that have limited transportation options.
Does a vacation deal sound too good to be true? It probably is. Unfortunately, travel scams are common, and sometimes it can be difficult to discern whether something is a scam or not. According to the Federal Trade Commission, common travel scams include:
- Advertisements for “free” vacations
- Websites that charge you high fees for getting international travel documents such as travel visas or passports (these documents can be obtained through the U.S. Department of State website)
- Vacation home scams where scammers will have you book a rental that doesn’t exist or is already rented by someone else
Older adults who may be less tech-savvy may be at a higher risk of falling victim to these scams, as many of these scams are online. However, some scams are so convincing that anyone could become a victim. Never sign or pay anything before you take time to read over documents, policies, and terms. Take time to do additional research, especially if a deal seems too good to be true.
The Federal Trade Commission Consumer Advice site provides information regarding the latest scams and how to avoid them. If you think you are being targeted by a travel scam, this site is a great place to begin your research or make a report.
Depending on your travel destination and your goals for your trip, you may benefit from booking a guide. An experienced tour guide can enrich your traveling experience, especially if you are traveling internationally. Even domestic travelers can benefit from local guides who can recommend restaurants and other destinations that may be lesser known or more popular among locals.
When booking a guide, you have options. You may choose to work with a travel agent who can help you connect with tour guides at your destination. Airbnb Experiences can also be a great option for connecting with a local guide for a specific or unique experience. Before booking with a guide, look for reviews from other travelers, or see if they have a social media page where they share photos and information. It’s important to choose a guide that is reliable and will make your travel experience better.
If traveling abroad is one of your goals in retirement, you may want to sign up with the Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that allows U.S. citizens to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. When enrolled, you will receive important safety information about your destination county. Being enrolled in STEP will also make it easier for the U.S. Embassy to contact you in an emergency. Signing up is easy and can be done by visiting the U.S. Department of State STEP website.
Home security can be a major concern for frequent travelers, especially older adults. Retirees often live alone and can have several valuables that they acquired over the years. This can make them more susceptible to crimes that can cause financial harm, such as burglaries. It’s important to ensure that your home is secure before you begin traveling, especially if you are taking a long trip.
Below are some ways you can help keep your home secure while traveling:
- Make sure all windows, doors, fences, and garage doors are locked before leaving.
- Set timers on interior lights. This can give the impression that someone is home and helps deter burglars.
- Contact your alarm system company (if you have one) and let them know you’ll be away from home for a while.
- Secure valuables in a home safe or other secure location.
- Consider having a house sitter or someone who can come check on your home regularly while you are away.
Do your retirement plans involve traveling frequently or traveling for long periods of time? You may consider looking into opportunities to earn passive income. Passive income is a great way to earn extra money while still allowing yourself to relax and enjoy your retirement years.
One way to earn passive income while being a frequent traveler is by renting out your property while it’s unused. This could include renting out rooms in your home, or even renting out an RV or camper. You may also consider starting a blog or YouTube channel and documenting your travels. Blogs and videos are not only a great way to share your experiences but can also generate passive income through ad revenue and affiliate linking.
If you want to spend a portion of your retirement traveling, it’s important to avoid incurring large debts. Large debts, such as medical debt, can eat away at your travel funds and have a significant impact on whether you can travel. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that nearly four million adults ages 65 and older had unpaid medical bills in 2020. Debt, whether medical or otherwise, can deplete your travel funds and make retirement more stressful.
To avoid incurring large debts, it’s important to not only establish a budget to prevent overspending, but also ensure that you are properly insured. Having passive income streams, like mentioned above, can also help you avoid debt by providing supplemental income.