Are you over 50 and planning a trip soon? Then read on for 50 of the best travel tips for seniors.
Whether you're a seasoned traveler or just starting out, it's a good idea to keep a few things in mind to make your trip enjoyable and stress-free
I’ve done all sorts of traveling, from car trips around the US to 6 weeks in Asia with only a carry-on suitcase, to cruises, to tours. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about planning, packing, traveling, and staying healthy on the road, and I’m excited to share some of my best tips with you today.
So grab your favorite drink, get ready to make some notes. When you're done, share some of your own travel tips in the comments below.
Here are 50 of the best travel tips for seniors:
Research your destination. Look online and in guidebooks to learn about your destination's culture, customs, and local laws. It's the best way to be sure you're considerate of local traditions and stay out of trouble. You can also find the best places to stay and create a list of must-see attractions. Be sure to book tickets in advance so you don't miss out.
Check the weather. Pack accordingly and be prepared for unexpected changes. Do you want to take up space in your luggage for an umbrella, or will you risk it and buy one there? Do you need a bulky, heavy coat, or can you make do with layers?
Embrace Slow Travel.
Don't rush. Take extra time to truly immerse yourself in your destination. Take breaks. Rest and relax.Ahhh! 🏖️You'll be surprised what you can find out about a place if you stop and relax a bit rather than rush from cathedral to art gallery to tour. You'll get a glimpse of what it's like to live somewhere else...all without calling a moving van. Score!
Pack light. Opt for versatile clothing and take only essential items in order to minimize luggage and make packing and moving around easier. You can find tips on packing light in some of the recommended blog posts at the end of this article.
Get a health check-up. Visit your doctor or other healthcare provider to be sure you don't have any medical conditions that would impact your trip. Also, be sure you have the necessary vaccinations and enough prescription medicine.Ask if there are any notes you should take along if you'll be getting medical care while you're away.And if you're taking prescription medicines, create a list, including the generic names, in case you need a refill on your trip. 💊
Invest in comfortable shoes. You'll probably be doing a lot of walking, so be sure your shoes are broken in before you leave home. And why not pack a little bit of Moleskin just in case? It doesn't take up any room at all, and your feet just might thank you for it
Book an aisle seat on the plane. There's usually no extra charge, and easy access to the aisle makes it easier to get up to move around (see Tip #43). Plus, if you're a nervous flyer, you can be first up and out in an emergency.If you have limited mobility, arrange with your airline for wheelchair service from the lounge to the plane or train. That has saved me a couple of times!
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, especially on long flights or if it's hot out. You can easily become dehydrated and not know it. 🥵
Pack snacks. You never know when you'll need a quick bite to eat, and you don't want the hangries to ruin the day.
Check your passport and visa. Make sure your passport is valid with at least six months left. If you need to get it renewed, check with the US Embassy to see how long it will take. It is often longer than you might think! Also, check your destination for visa and entry requirements.
Stay financially secure. Carry cash and two credit or debit cards in case something happens to one of them. Keep your cards separate, and use a money belt for your cash to keep it out of sight and secure. If offered a choice, pay in the local currency to reduce bank fees. 💰
Consider a group tour.
Group tours simplify travel planning and are a great way to meet new people and make friends. Many people our age like Road Scholar or Overseas Adventure Travel as they have trips geared to all activity levels. You can also search online for groups specializing in solo travel if you want to take a trip without a travel companion.
Learn some basic phrases in the local language. It's a polite thing to do, it's good to keep our brains active, and it will make communicating with the locals easier and much more fun.
Carry hand sanitizer and tissue. COVID is still alive and well, other germs abound, and not every toilet has toilet paper. 🧻
Research accessibility. If you have mobility issues or special needs, research the accessibility of your destination in advance. Make plans for whatever type of equipment you'll need before you go so you can be sure you'll be able to travel in comfort and style.
Pack a travel pillow. Bring a travel pillow for added comfort during long flights, train trips, or bus rides. Blow-up pillows are easy to travel with as they can be deflated for packing, although they might not be quite as comfortable as the ones filled with rice, buckwheat, or other filling.
Keep your important documents in a safe place. Make copies of your passport, visa, driver's license, travel insurance, and bank cards (front and back) and store them someplace separate from the originals. Leave another set at home with a family member or friend, just in case.
Stay connected. Bring a phone or tablet to stay in touch with loved ones and to provide entertainment while you're gone. These devices are also handy for researching activities and restaurants while you're away. If you're leaving the country, look up mobile plans and SIM cards before you go. 💻
Avoid pickpockets. Carry your important items in front of you in a slash-proof bag with locking zippers or in your front pockets. If using a backpack, secure the zippers with locks or twist ties. Research ahead of time to see which areas of town pickpockets frequent and what their local techniques are.
Pack a large scarf in your carry-on bag. A scarf, sarong, or Turkish towel will protect against nippy airplanes and overly air-conditioned restaurants. It can also double as a swimsuit coverup, a mat for stretching on the hotel floor, a beach towel, and a way to cover arms and legs when visiting temples in Asia.
Take a walking tour. It's a great way to see the sights and learn about the history of your destination. Can't walk long distances? Ask if there's a place that rents electric scooters or wheelchairs.
Bring a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the midday sun. Depending on where you're traveling, it can be much more intense than you're used to at home.Pop into the shade or a restaurant for a cool drink if you become overheated. Don't risk sunstroke! 😎
Stay safe. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid dangerous areas. Your hotel can provide advice on where to go and what the risk factors are when you're out and about. Also be sure to lock your hotel room when you're in it.
Take advantage of senior discounts. Look for discounts for older travelers. You may be able to save quite a bit on accommodation, transportation, and attractions. Start by checking with AAA and AARP.
Bring a guidebook. A guidebook will provide valuable information and recommendations while you get comfortable in your new surroundings. You'll find all sorts of new things to do once you're there.Personally, I like Lonely Planet books because they're good value for the money and are less heavy to carry around. I sometimes even just rip out the pages I'm interested in and leave the rest at home. Rick Steves, Fodors, and Moon also have excellent guides.
Arrive early. Visiting attractions early in the day is the best time to avoid crowds and long lines. Your energy levels later in the day will thank you for it!
Capture memories. Take photos and keep a travel journal to record memories to look back on. And no need to lug a heavy camera! Phone technology is such that you can take excellent photos with them. Consider taking a short photography course for the best results. 📸
Pack a travel adapter. If you're planning international travel, bring along a travel adapter. It's the best way to ensure your devices work in countries that have different-sized plugs.You'll also want to learn about differences in voltage requirements so you don't accidentally blow up something valuable like, oh...let's say, your computer.
Dress appropriately. Be mindful of local customs and dress codes so you're respectful.
Respect your limits. Plan activities that match your fitness level and comfort zone, especially after a long flight. Make sure you have enough time to rest up after a busy day so you can enjoy the next activity on your agenda.
Use public transportation. It will save you time and money and provide a cultural experience. 🚎
Consider a cruise. There's a reason cruise ships are packed with older adults. Vacationing on a cruise ship is a great way to see multiple destinations in one trip, and you don't have to cart your luggage around as much. Start looking at cruise lines early for the best deals. The days of huge savings on last-minute bookings are long gone.
Bring a small first aid kit. It's always better to be prepared. Think of Band-Aids, pain relievers, and any specific medication you might need at a moment's notice. Anyone had an upset tummy while traveling? 🤢
Embrace technology. Use travel apps to plan and organize your trip. I use a bunch of travel apps, but if you'd like a list of the apps I never leave travel without―the ones I use all the time on my trips―download 7 Must-Have Travel Apps for International Travel.
Sign up with the transportation security administration. If you're traveling within or to the United States, TSA Precheck will help you avoid long lines at airport security, which is especially helpful for senior travelers. If you travel a lot internationally, sign up for Global Entry.If you have a disability, sign up for a TSA notification card, which discreetly informs airport security personnel about any medical conditions, disabilities, or medical devices on your person that might affect the screening process.
Travel in shoulder seasons. Go during off-peak times to avoid crowds and enjoy lower prices. Factor in holidays where destinations may be packed.
Learn about local healthcare. Understand how your insurance works and become familiar with local healthcare options and medical facilities in case you need medical attention or have health conditions that require ongoing care.Remember, Medicare doesn't cover you if you're out of the US, so you might need separate travel health insurance. 🏥
Practice digital safety. Be careful of public Wi-Fi and free charging stations, as bad actors can use them to install malware on your device. For peace of mind, use a VPN and take a portable charger rather than plug your cell phone into a charging station.
Use your travel rewards. Taking advantage of loyalty programs and travel rewards is an excellent way to save on flights and accommodations.
Don't get scammed. Research the type of scams targeting tourists in your destination. The good news is that with a little preparation, you can significantly reduce your chances of getting scammed or being the victim of pickpockets.🙅🏼
Explore nearby places. Explore lesser-known towns or attractions for unique experiences. Visit the local tourist office for ideas.
Stay patient. Even if you've had a travel agent plan your trip, travel hiccups happen. Have a book with you, take a breath, and trust that things will work out. 😌
Wear support hose on the plane. Wearing support hose and walking or moving during long travel times can help prevent deep vein thrombosis, which are blood clots that can be life-threatening. Unfortunately, this is more likely to occur as we age.
Use a luggage tag. Make your tag unusual so your luggage is easy to identify. If you're traveling with a computer, other electronics, or medical equipment, be sure those also have something on them so if you lose something, some kind person will be able to return it to you.
Photograph your luggage. If your luggage goes missing, having closeup photos can help you recover it more quickly. 🧳
Be eco-friendly. Bring a reusable water bottle to refill in your hotel room and a small shopping bag to reduce environmental impact.
Stay informed. Stay updated on local news and events that might impact your travel plans. 📰
Get a neck strap for your passport. A neck strap keeps your hands free to deal with your luggage and prevents you from setting your passport down and forgetting it. (Been there, done that! 😱)
Connect with fellow travelers. Engage with people you meet on the road to share experiences and get recommendations.
Enjoy yourself. Traveling is an opportunity for growth and discovery, so make the most of it.
So there you have it. Traveling after 50 can be a remarkable and transformative experience, and I want you to have a fantastic time!
By following these 50 travel tips, you can embark on unforgettable journeys while prioritizing your well-being, staying safe, and creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
Remember, age is just a number, and the world is waiting for you to explore it with enthusiasm and curiosity. 🚗🛬🌎