There are lots of adventurous vacationers, and retirees are no exception. Many retirees these days keep themselves healthy and youthful through exercise and clean living so they can enjoy the more exciting pleasures of life well into what others might consider their twilight years.
But even the healthiest and most venturesome retirees need to be smart when it comes to planning their travel tour. Here are 10 tips to get you going in the right direction.
10: Stock Your Carry-on Bag
There are close to 10 million people age 65 and older who have served in the armed services.
Before you get on that plane, make sure that you have all of the items you can't live without packed in your carry-on baggage. Checked luggage can get lost on a flight, and losing access to your meds -- or anything else important to your health and well-being -- would be a major bummer. Aside from your must-have prescription medications, also include any over-the-counter meds you may take, including antacids, anti-inflammatory pills and aspirin. And don't forget a clean pair of undies in case your luggage remains stateside.
9: Bring Backup Medication
Now that you have your carry-on baggage stocked with all the medications you require for your trip, pack your checked luggage with the same thing. When you're a retired traveler, there's no such thing as having too much of your needed meds. Stock two day-of-the-week pill boxes, one for carry-on and one for your checked bag, to make sure you have everything you need for each day that you'll be traveling. It's also a good idea to have your doctor write out extra prescriptions for the most vital medications and keep them on you while you travel, just in case.
8: Scout Out Medical Facilities
Many older Americans still work, with an estimated 5 million people in the United States age 65 and older still holding jobs.
The last thing you want on your senior travel tour is to get someplace so far off the beaten path that there isn't reasonable access to proper medical facilities, especially if you have a recurrent condition. Choose tours based in an area that has a modern hospital and leave the adventure to day trips from that location.
If you're intent on taking the road less traveled, scout out the area ahead of time so you know what medical facilities are available to you in case of an emergency. Make a list of these hospitals with addresses and phone numbers, and keep them with you at all times. If you have any special medical procedural needs, make sure the area you're visiting can accommodate you.
7: Buy Travel Insurance
Travel insurance has come a long way since its early days, and many folks opt to purchase insurance during the planning phase of their vacation. Travel insurance can cover a wide range of scenarios, from all-out cancellations due to natural disasters or local political turmoil, to covering your green fees in case your golf trip is rained out. Make sure you find a policy that fits your needs by shopping around, and always know exactly what you're being covered for. Look for policies that cover pre-existing illnesses that could thwart your trip with a last minute cancellation.
6: Research Weather and Climate
College wasn't as much of an option back in the day as it is now. Only 19 percent of retirees in the United States have a college degree.
Here's another tip that extends to all travelers, but especially to retirees: Make sure you do some thorough research of the climate and weather patterns of your final destination. Aside from checking into overall climate for the time of year you'll be traveling, also look at seasonal weather patterns and worst-case meteorological scenarios that could develop. In fact, you should probably plan your trip around these scenarios. For instance, traveling to an exotic island can be a lot of fun, but not so much during hurricane season. Look at average monthly high and low temperatures, and then check the status right before your departure to make sure that there are no weather-related anomalies going on.
5: Schedule a Checkup
Just like you should take your car in to your mechanic for a once-over before a long road trip, retirees should also get a thorough checkup before departing on any kind of vacation, especially an adventurous one. Let your doctor know exactly what your travel plans are and what you plan on doing while you're away so you can get her stamp of approval. Then, you need to heed your doctor's advice. If she recommends that you skip the bungee jump, then don't jump off the bridge. This is especially important if you have any kind of serious pre-existing medical condition. Also, check ahead to make sure you don't need any kind of special vaccinations for more exotic locations.
4: Exercise on the Plane
Retirees in the United States make up the largest percentage of voters of all the age groups.
Long flights can wreak havoc on older bones and joints, especially if you have poor circulation and a tendency for blood clots to form. To combat this, make sure that you get up and move around some during the flight to get the blood flowing to all the right places. While direct flights are certainly the way to go for shorter routes, a connecting flight and short layover on a long flight can be a good thing for retirees -- just make sure you have plenty of time to get to the connecting flight. If you do have a short layover, take the opportunity to walk around the airport and refresh your body.
3: Know Your Time Zones
Traveling great distances can make adapting to foreign time zones a little more difficult, especially if you aren't used to it. Jet lag is something that affects every traveler, but it can be a little rougher on retirees. The other thing to consider, besides changing the hands on your watch, are the times that you need to take your medications. Many meds are very specific when it comes to what time of day you need to take them. It's vital that you don't get confused with different time zones, or days in cases of distant travel, and lapse or overdose on your prescription medications.
2: Emergency Contacts
More than 80 percent of people age 65 and older are homeowners.
If you're a retiree about to depart on a long adventure tour, the one thing you should have on you is a list of emergency contacts. Make a list of your doctors and their phone numbers, any close family member you choose as your emergency contact and then backups to those people. Don't scrawl it on a piece of paper, either; this is a serious document that you should regard as importantly as your passport. Type it up and laminate it, and put it in your wallet or purse. Make copies for your luggage, too. While you're on the trip, make sure to keep it on your person at all times.
1: Scout the Local Cuisine
Adventurous travel can also mean adventurous cuisine. Retirees love to enjoy the local fare as much as the next traveler, but baby boomers' diets can be a bit more restrictive, so it's important to check it out ahead of time to make sure your needs can be met. Besides simple things to ask, like, "Is all the food spicy?," you should also make sure that any unique dietary needs can be accommodated. If you have diabetes, make sure to bring along whatever snacks you usually have on-hand at home so you aren't caught in a tough situation. Also, make sure you pack an ample supply of any dietary supplements you need.