Traveling when you’re getting up there in years is a bit different from when you are 25. Granted, you may have the financial resources to do more, but the rest of you may not be as cooperative. While I’ve heard things like 50 is the new 30, when you’ve had years of wear and tear on your body from activities like gymnastics, skiing, and running, it takes a toll. Body parts like the knees may not feel like climbing or taking long hikes, which in turn can put a crimp on your choice of vacation destinations. But, aging and travel can mix well together; it just may take a little more planning.
The last trip I took had mostly people age 55 and up with a few young ones scattered in between. As I looked around at all my fellow passengers and imagined what their life stories were, I started to think about what kind of trips they go on at their age and what factors are important to them when they plan their next vacation.
So, I thought what better way to find out if age makes a difference when you travel then to ask those sharing my voyage. Here’s what they had to say…
Aging and Travel – Factors to Consider
As at any age, financial resources play a most decisive role in travel plans for the 55+ crowd. Whether finances are plentiful or you are living on limited income, this will affect your choices and thus, is probably the most important initial factor to consider. And, especially as you age, but are still working with an income, you may think about taking bigger and better trips before your income is limited.
You also need to think long term and how your financial resources will change over time. And, if resources are limited, set priorities and look at how and where your money can be best spent; what makes you most happy or what might be on your bucket list. If flying first class is important, then you may opt for an all-inclusive resort/cruise for the destination. Or, if you’ve always wanted to visit Spain, go with a package tour go off season when rates are lower.
- Can you travel long distances no matter the mode of transportation?
- Are you limited by a certain mode of transportation?
- Can you travel alone or would you prefer a package tour or being in a group?
- Is jet lag an issue for you?
- Could blood clots on airplanes be an issue?
- Do you require special equipment, such as wheelchairs and oxygen?
- Can you manage lots of luggage yourself?
- Do you have any medical condition(s) that will affect travel?
- Will you have access to medical care?
- Are you taking any meds and if so, are any side effects an issue?
- Do you have to get vaccines in order to visit?
- Does your health insurance cover you when away or do you need to purchase travel health insurance and if so, does it cover pre-existing conditions?
I would like to relay a personal health crisis story that happened to me in my 40’s in Tuscany, Italy that has made me really consider my travel choices. I will try and make a long story short. I suffered chest palpitations and some shortness of breath in the middle of the night while I was on a girlfriend trip staying in a lovely villa. I really thought I was having a heart attack.
When we were finally able to get assistance, very few people, including the paramedics and hospital personnel spoke English and we were in a very touristy town in Italy! Trying to communicate what was going on with me was very difficult. It ended up with the ER physician thinking I was having a panic attack when it ended up I had food poisoning after the other symptoms turned into massive vomiting!!!!! It seriously made me think about traveling to countries with little medical resources and even worse language barriers.
On the plus side, I was treated by paramedics, had an ambulance ride to the hospital, and was treated in the ER for about 4 hours, all for free. I kept expecting a bill as they took my passport information, but never received one.
- Will language be an issue, especially if there was an emergency?
- Will there be extreme temperatures and/or high altitudes?
- Will driving be an issue, especially in a foreign country and do you need an international license?
- Will there be a wide range and level of activities?
- Do you have special dietary needs and can they be accommodated?
- Can you get senior discounts for anything such as travel, food, or activities?
For most “seniors” I spoke with, they are not letting aging impact their travel plans, but they do travel smart, plan ahead, and continue to experience amazing travel adventures.
What factors do you consider with aging and travel?
- Tips for Traveling as We Age
- 5 Fantastic Luxury Trips for the 55 + Crowd
- 5 Budget-Minded Trips for the 55+ Crowd