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Senior Travel Done Right

Last year, AARP’s 2017 Boomer travel trends report showed that almost all seniors will travel for leisure, with about half traveling internationally.

“Seniors are traveling more and more every year,” said Lori Wall from Destinations to Explore in Hyde Park, New York.

Because they are traveling more, Wall suggests seniors leave a complete itinerary to one person they trust: “This way someone knows exactly what their travel plans are and where they are supposed to be. This is especially important if they are doing group tours or on a cruise with multiple stops.”

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Greg Geronemus, the co-CEO of smarTours, a guided tour company based in New York City said that group tours are a perfect way for seniors to travel:

“Safety is a top priority among seniors when traveling abroad, especially when you’re talking about less developed countries and those with language barriers. Companies like ours that provide guided, escorted group tours absolutely make seniors feel safer and more secure in their travels. The support of an experienced tour guide and the feeling of safety in numbers with a group create a wonderful, low-stress travel experience for seniors.”

Many seniors are also on a fixed budget, so Geronemus said that a group tour can help with pricing and value:

“Most seniors are also looking to save money when planning a vacation, that’s why nothing beats going to a value-oriented tour operator. Instead of seeking, researching and spending hours to find that great travel deal, the easiest and quickest way to actually find that cost-saving deal is considering a guided tour. Also, when the tours are air-inclusive, as they are at smarTours, seniors love having everything taken care of for them — from air to hotels to sightseeing.”

Unfortunately, many seniors also have pre-existing health conditions that can affect their travel plans, so Donna Dowden, an agent at the Hemet, California-based TerraMar Travel Inc, a Travel Leaders Network affiliate, advises seniors to purchase travel insurance.

“If traveling overseas, we also recommend enrolling in the STEP program through the government for travel warnings,” she said.

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If you are mobility challenged or have special health issues, Joy Teet advises discussing them with your travel agent.

“There are so many different ways we can accommodate you, but we must have knowledge of these issues in advance,” said Teet, Dream Vacations Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist with Sunshine Cruise and Travel in Palm City, Florida.

“If you are participating in a river cruise, talk to your agent about the different vendors and which one will be best for you. Some have more included options which will accommodate late risers and slower walkers. Plan in advance and allow yourself ample time to come and go from wherever.”

You should also take into account the amount of physical activity that you can do on your vacation, just to make sure that you can keep up.

“If you are taking a tour of China that visits the Great Wall, the walk is very difficult just getting to the start of the walk,” said Helen Prochilo of Promal Vacations in Long Beach, New York. “Find a tour that takes into account any mobility issues you might have so you don’t hold up the entire group or aren’t left behind.”

Consider what help you might need at the airport as well.

“If you need wheelchair assistance at the airport, call the airline in advance and ask them to add that to your booking,” said Prochilo. “Once you arrive, there is no guarantee there will be enough wheelchairs or attendants when you arrive if you haven’t pre-ordered one.”

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Think ahead for any wheelchair you may need on a cruise too.

“Cruise ships don’t have wheelchairs onboard you can use for your trip,” said Prochilo. “If you aren’t bringing your own but have mobility issues, there are companies that will rent you a wheelchair or motorized scooter and have it waiting in your cabin.”

Finally, if you’re still thinking about what kind of trip to take, consider a multi-generational trip.

“It’s more fun for you to see your family having a wonderful time together and will be a memory your family will talk about for many years,” said Prochilo.” target=”_blank”Follow @virgintraveler

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