TRAVEL! It’s one of the brass rings of retirement but after two recent trips I’ve learned that there’s more involved than grabbing my purse and heading out the door. Baby Boomers and Seniors take note- it’s about the planning. First things first!
Where am I going?
Make a travel bucket list and start checking off destinations! Take your time and consider where you want to go and the best time of the year to visit (considering crowds, climate, and costs). Research is part of the fun and can save you time, money and blisters. The travel industry is anxious to help so if you have some limitations don’t let that squash your wanderlust. Go somewhere you’ve never been. If you’ve been to the beach on vacation your entire life then it’s definitely time to branch out. Sure you may have to work a little harder making sure that your trip meets your needs but don’t let that stop you.
How long will I be gone?
You may want to wander the world for weeks on end, or you may think a long weekend is too long to be away from home. Always a consideration are any medical needs or appointments so talk with your health care professionals. They can help you determine your needs. In addition consider the destination- are you staying in the USA, traveling to be with family, all of these can impact the length of your trip. Only you can determine how long you can be the adventurer.
Who will go with me?
Traveling companions can make or break a great trip. Consider if you are prepared to share living space or every meal with another couple, or those close friends. Are you comfortable sharing expenses with someone else? Knowing your tolerance and that of your traveling companions is important. Traveling alone or with just one other person can streamline your trip. So consider traveling companions as a part of the planning.
What should I pack?
Two words – pack light! I don’t think I’ve ever been on a trip that I didn’t pack too much or the wrong thing. Here are some tips:
Check the weather for your destination. You can even check historical data and see what conditions normally are in the region. See if your accommodations have laundry service or washer/dryer. If traveling by air – make sure you pack a hand carry bag. In your hand carry you should have:
· a minimum of one change of clothes,
· any prescription and over the counter medications in their ORIGINAL containers placed in a one quart clear freezer bag, (medication dosages put in a pill box will NOT go through security),
· a photocopy of any prescriptions, and/or physician instructions,
· a photocopy of all insurance cards, emergency contact information.
Documentation for travel. (A government passport is considered the highest level of identification by the federal TSA) I suggest making at least two photo copies of each of the following:
· driver’s license,
· Medicare or any other insurance cards,
· travel tickets and boarding pass,
· all confirmation receipts for events you have pre-scheduled for your trip. Keep one set in your hand carry bag, one on your person or your purse. (Remember health coverage here in the US is not considered coverage overseas – so please make arrangements when traveling out of the country for trip insurance/health insurance).
Think comfort. One pair of comfortable shoes can save your life. Of course we want to look stylish so make the pre-trip shopping part of the fun. After all anticipation is what makes things that much better.
Don’t take what you won’t need. You’ll have to carry it, pack it, unpack it, fold it, and sift past it so leave the extra keys, the five extra scarves, and that one extra pair of black pants at home.
How will I get there and once I arrive how will I get around?
Transportation is often a multi-faceted element of your trip. Traveling by car, plane, or train all have different pros and cons. If traveling by air consider asking for the aisle seat for easy in and out. If possible keep your hand carry bag between your feet under the seat in front of you or where you can monitor the overhead bin where it is stored. Don’t forget to stand periodically to get the blood moving. On long car trips factor in time for short stops to walk about at a rest stop or grab a bite to eat.
Consider if you will be using public or private transportation and the cost differences. Taxi service can be expensive and should be factored into the cost of your trip. Recently in NYC our hotel concierge found us a Town Car rental to take us to the airport that was more comfortable and less expensive than a taxi. Let your travel agency or your hotel concierge help with ground travel. They are the pros and know the ins and outs. If you’re lucky enough to have family or friends in a place you want to visit they can assist in navigation and travel. Last but not least thank heaven for GPS – it can provide navigation instruction whether walking to your destination or riding in a car.
Should I set an itinerary?
Yes, yes and yes! You may think you want to be a free spirit but when you can’t find a restaurant within 20 miles of your destination you’ll thank me. You can always go OFF the itinerary if you find something compelling or hear of an off the beaten path escape from one of the locals but there is no substitute for having a rough outline of a plan. Also planning an itinerary in advance means that you can go ahead and book the best reservations, excursions, and get the best tickets for the things you really want to do. Read TripAdvisor! www.tripadvisor.com
What a resource of real world reviews to find out just what things are the must see/must dos in the area you are visiting. (always give a photo copy of your itinerary with phone numbers and addresses of where you will be to your emergency contact)
Schedule some downtime and put it IN the itinerary.
I know you want to cram in as much fun as possible– but when your feet are tired and your back is aching you’ll thank me. Think of it as a time to reflect and recharge so you’ll enjoy each event of your trip that much more.
Should I consider a Tour or a Cruise?
Absolutely! Let someone else do the homework. A tour or cruise offers a special situation for baby boomers and seniors in that they have done most of the work for you. They are planned, operated and staffed to provide the best experiences. They also have the people to handle unforeseen circumstances that might arise. Many cruise companies and tour groups even allow you to go “off the grid” for a while and have your own adventure. Travel being handled by a professional could be the perfect combination of escape and security.
So, make a plan, grab your bags, and pack your comfortable shoes there’s no substitute for the brass ring travel can bring. I wish you the joys of discovery.