Traveling as a senior citizen has a lot of perks. You’re eligible for senior discounts on everything from flights to accommodations to meals. Your schedule allows you to travel in the off-season to avoid the usual tourist crowds. Some even say your life experience makes traveling more enjoyable for you than your younger counterparts.
For all the advantages of traveling post-retirement, there are also some challenges that come along with traveling as a senior citizen. While your schedule might be more flexible, and discounts may make traveling more economical, things like your health and that of those important to you are likely a bigger concern than they were when you were younger.
Luckily, there are some simple ways to protect yourself and your travel plans. As with all things, preparation is key. Whether you are traveling across the state or across the ocean, there are three things every senior should do before they up and go.
1. Insure your trip. Airlines, rental car agencies, and hotels all offer trip insurance at the time of purchase, usually after you’ve selected your options and before you pay. It’s easy to overlook the offers for “cancellation coverage” or “trip protection,” but they come in particularly handy for seniors. Due to health concerns and life events like the passing of a loved one, seniors are more likely than other age groups to buy and use trip insurance.
While you may never need to use it, the fee to insure your trip is usually nominal. (In some cases, your credit card may offer some of the same benefits free of charge.) In the event you need to reschedule or cancel your trip altogether, you’ll be able to do just that, without all the normal change and cancellation fees you’d have to pay without the insurance. You may even be eligible for a full refund.
2. Make sure you’re covered. Trip insurance covers your transportation and accommodations, but you also should consider your health. It’s important to check with Medicare or your insurance provider to make sure your plan will cover any accidents, replacement prescriptions, or other emergencies that may come up during travel or once you reach your destination.
If your current plan doesn’t completely cover you, don’t fear. Travel insurance is available through private providers. Options range from coverage for specific types of incidents to all-inclusive care. Depending on your needs, travel insurance can cost several hundred dollars. Many senior citizens say, however, that the peace-of-mind is worth the investment.
3. Secure your home. While everyone take proper precautions to ensure their home and belongings are safe and secure before they travel, senior citizens should be particularly vigilant, as they are commonly targeted by criminals.
A home security system offers some level of protection in the event of a break in, but your best bet is to make it look like you are home when you’re not. Lock all your doors, but leave some lights on and some blinds open. If you can, leave a car in the driveway. Don’t tell too many people about your trip or broadcast your absence on social media, but do ask someone you trust to keep an eye on things while you’re away. Small tasks like checking your mail, picking up your papers, and removing any fliers from your door can make a big difference.
It’s true that seniors encounter more situations where these tools might come in handy but, in actuality, none of these tips are senior specific. Trip protection, travel insurance, and the knowledge everything is safe and secure at home are things that can make any trip more pleasant. Any traveler would be smart to follow these suggestions.