Don’t let the budget or worries hold you back from traveling in retirement.
Who is ready to fade into the sunset?
Certainly not the dynamic silver-haired crowd! Many retirees are re-defining their “work optional” time by taking up a hobby, learning new things, and traveling to destinations both familiar and new. However, travel is certainly different now than it was when you graduated from high school. Here’s what you need to know to keep an eye on the budget, keep yourself healthy and save, and have fun.
Time it right.
Travel in retirement has a significant advantage: you can go away when you want to, not when your boss says you can be spared, or when the kids’ school is out. This gives you an opportunity to avoid crowds, unreasonable heat, and sky-high prices of high season. Generally speaking, “shoulder” seasons that bracket the more popular travel times are best for still-comfortable weather and shorter lines. Stay away from the summer months, as well as peak demand around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. You will be rewarded with beautiful weather, quiet streets, and plenty of open tables at local restaurants.
Traveling during an off-time can also give you the ability to shop around for the best prices. Recent research tells us that the best time to shop for a domestic flight is 54 days before you travel. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday tend to be the cheapest days to fly. Finally, be sure to compare the cost of non-stop flights and those with connections – you might find a better deal if you are willing to add a stop to your itinerary.
If you are traveling within the United States, do some research to understand whether your health insurance will be accepted at your destination. Even if an emergency is unlikely, it helps to have a plan! Bring a copy of your medical record, including all diagnoses and copies of prescriptions.
For travel abroad, the situation is a bit more challenging. Many retirees opt to buy travel insurance that will help pay for emergency medical care overseas. The cost will vary depending on your health history, activities you plan to participate in, and the length of your stay abroad. However, this may be a good investment and a safety net in the event that you get sick or injured.
The best advice for traveling retirees is to pack light on clothes and go heavy on risk management. If you aren’t one of those people who can travel with just a carry-on, this may be your time to try it! Look for inspiration online, as outfit planning and strategic choices of shoes and accessories can give you plenty of options – save you from lugging a heavy bag around airports.
Be sure to pack all your prescriptions and supplements (especially if you are traveling abroad and won’t be able to simply buy more in a familiar pharmacy). Experts recommend keeping all key medications with you in your carry-on to avoid the lost-luggage nightmare. However, be sure to leave the meds in their original pharmacy packaging. Pills placed inside convenient “dose reminder” packs might get confiscated by the TSA.
Go with the flow.
People love travel because it allows them to step out of the ordinary daily life and experience something new. Sometimes, the “new” is delicious meals and gorgeous sunsets. Other times, it may be strange spices that don’t agree with your stomach and three days of non-stop rain. No matter what gets thrown at you, do your best to take it in stride and go with the flow.
Finally, don’t let your concerns and worries hold you back from experiencing the world! For some what-ifs and scenarios, it may help to plan ahead and mentally problem-solve before the problem happens. For example, if you are worried about getting lost in a new city, take the initiative of picking up the hotel’s business card at the reception desk, downloading a map app on your smartphone, or even purchasing a small street map of the neighborhood to carry in your pocket. Be smart, be prepared, then let go and enjoy your time away!
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