Categorized | Technology

Traveling With Seniors

Where and when to go

If you’re working through your travel wish list, choosing where to go can be as easy as prioritizing (or even alphabetizing) the destinations, buying plane tickets, making hotel reservations and heading out the door.

But if you are looking for ideas, savings and senior-friendly adventures, quiz like-minded friends about their experiences (everyone loves talking about their trips), search AARP’s (and other) destination guides by the type of activities you’re comfortable and capable of doing, and peruse online forums, such as Lonely Planet’s thread for older travelers.

For value and ease of travel, experts suggest seniors consider a cruise. Great scenery is often just out the window on trips to Alaska, along Europe’s rivers, in Hawaii, and more exotic ports of call. Plus passengers need only unpack once, and all meals and plenty of entertainment are right on board.

The compact theater districts of London and New York show up on many “Best for seniors” lists, as do entertainment-packed destinations such as Branson, Mo., and more laid back, history-filled towns such as Charleston, S.C.  Beyond the casinos, Las Vegas offers armloads of attractions – and plenty of cabs. And don’t assume Disney World is just for kids: Epcot’s Future World and World Showcase theme areas offer a wide variety of slower-moving and educational attractions plus a good choice of sit-down restaurants with international menus.

If you’re retired and/or flexible about when you can travel, visiting popular tourist destinations in the shoulder seasons (i.e. in Europe that’s usually April to June and September to November) can offer savings and fewer crowds.

Finding the discounts and the deals

Traveling anywhere during the off-season will net you cheaper air fare and hotel rates, but there are discounts and deals for seniors to be had year-round.

The savings offered to AARP and AAA members are often the same, but can sometimes be differ by 5 percent or more, so be sure to ask. And don’t be shy about asking if there is a senior discount at museums and attractions, on city tours, in restaurants, parks, at concerts and other events, and on bus lines, trains and cruise lines. Sometimes they’re not posted, but are available for those who ask.

The age cut-off may be 55, 62, 65, or, in some cases 70, so it’s a good idea to call ahead or do a bit of research online and to always have an ID handy. 

A great deal for U.S. citizens and permanent residents age 62 or older is the Senior Lifetime Pass ($80/lifetime; $20 annual) from the National Park Service which provides free admission to National Park Service sites that charge admission and, at some sites, a 50 percent discount on amenities such as camping or swimming.

Should you buy travel insurance?

Advice – and costs – vary widely when it comes to travel insurance and global medical plans for seniors, but there are some common issues to consider.

For health care: Medicare is rarely valid outside the United States and supplemental insurance plans may also have wide-ranging exclusions, so many experts advise purchasing a travel insurance plan that covers medical care, including evacuation coverage, in case of a serious illness or emergency.

For trip interruptions, cancellations, lost items, other travel maladies and overall peace of mind: Experts suggest skipping extra travel insurance for short trips but purchasing insurance for longer, more expensive adventures. And they urge travelers to check to see what coverage may already be available through one of the credit cards in their wallet. Some helpful articles on this topic are available here and here.

Trip tips

Tour companies such as Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel), ElderTreks and others focus on the active, over-50 traveler. There are also some cruise lines that are kid-free. But with planning and attention to details, seniors can certainly be comfortable traveling anywhere and everywhere on their own.

Here are some general travel tips for seniors:

  • Pack light and use a small rolling suitcase so you don’t have to lug your luggage around. To keep the load light, invest in some quick-drying travel clothing and do laundry in the sink along the way.
  • If you or your travel companion has trouble walking long distances, ask for ground floor hotel rooms or rooms that are close to the elevator. For those who use wheelchairs, call ahead for an accessible room. Bring a collapsible walking stick, a cane that doubles as a seat, or consider renting (or borrowing) a wheelchair in theme parks, zoos, museums and on cruise ships. At the Disney World theme parks, for example, wheelchairs rent for $12/day and Electric Conveyance Vehicles (ECVs) are available for $50 a day (with a $20 deposit).
  • Take buses, shuttle vans, cabs, or an on-demand ride service (such as Uber or Lyft) to get around quickly and easily in a city and avoid the stairs or long passageways common in subways. Hop on/hop-off tour buses offer great overviews of most cities and there’s no rule against hopping on and just staying onboard.

Harriet Baskas writes about airports, air travel, museums and a wide variety of destinations for USA TODAY, NBC News, CNBC and her blog, StuckatTheAirport.com. Follow her on Twitter at @hbaskas.

Article source: http://www.indystar.com/story/insider/extras/2017/10/05/traveling-seniors/735196001/

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