Many new retirees can’t wait to travel. Once their working life ends, they start booking their travels.
Travel planning is so full of excitement that it’s easy to overlook what can go wrong. Even the most cautious people make mistakes that can ruin a trip and cause lasting hardship.
Given the sheer number of retirees who travel, it’s inevitable that some will regret their decision. According to AARP, Americans in their 60s are the biggest spenders on travel. They plan to pay an average of $7,300 for a trip in 2023.
Before you book a trip, take a hard look at how much you’re paying and whether you’re comfortable committing to it several months in advance.
“Understand the payment terms,” says Matt Faucher, senior director of Road Scholar, a Boston-based nonprofit that offers educational travel programs. Many travel-related purchases are non-refundable, so know how much money you may or may not get back if your plans change.
If the thought of losing your deposit hurts, consider purchasing travel insurance. This is definitely a profitable product line for insurance companies, but don’t let that deter you.
Standard trip cancellation insurance varies in coverage and only covers you under certain circumstances. Prices vary depending on a variety of factors, but to ensure coverage, expect to pay around 10% of the non-refundable trip price.
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You can also pay even more if you add “cancel for any reason” to your insurance. This allows him to change his mind at the last minute, perhaps fearing the spread of his latest Covid variant.
These “cancel for any reason” policies do not provide a full refund. Instead of a partial refund, you may be issued a credit that allows you to use all or part of your funds on a future trip with the same travel company.
The post-pandemic travel rush could land energetic retirees in trouble. If you have health problems or physical limitations, please proceed with caution.
“Understand your own physical abilities and what your physical expectations and demands are for the trip,” says Faucher. “There are people who underestimate their abilities and think they can do it. And when they get there, it’s too much.”
As long as you’re strong enough to navigate uneven stairs, carry heavy luggage, and push onto planes and buses, that’s a good start. The benefits of entering a new world can offer magic that offsets the hassles of getting there.
“Travel is like the fountain of youth for me,” said Rick Steves, 68, a travel writer and television host. “And you’ll be less afraid.”
Steves, author of a popular guidebook to Europe, encourages retirees to overcome concerns about things like exchanging money and communicating in places where English isn’t the main language. “These are outdated concerns,” he said.
A more pressing concern is tripping while traveling, he warns. Unsteady footing can be a problem on cobblestone streets. Sidewalks can be dangerous.
“Be careful when you walk,” Steves said. “Stop and look around. Don’t look around while walking.”
With the proliferation of e-bikes and electric vehicles in some parts of the world, it’s easy to walk out on the street and not hear one coming. Slow down and use caution before attempting to cross.
Steves highlights two threats that can ruin travel for retirees that are easy to avoid: heat and crowds. Check the weather forecast for the location you plan to travel to and consider how intense heat and humidity will affect you.
“You better dress up in the cold,” he said. It’s less likely to be crowded during the off-season, which could save you money on flights and hotels.
“If it’s hot and crowded, you might have a hard time waking up,” Steves says. “And air conditioning may not be standard where you go.”
Please check the expiry date of your passport before departing abroad. Some countries require your passport to be valid for six months after your travel date.
“We are hearing about delays in projects. [U.S.] “The State Department is renewing passports,” Faucher said. Even if you live near a National Passport Center, don’t expect a walk-in service to speed up your renewal. You may need to book several weeks in advance.