Summer is officially here and that means many people are preparing for a holiday.
While summer is the most common time for a break, retirees often have more flexibility.
“If you are senior and you want to travel, you’re better off going on the shoulder season, rather than the high season,” said Debbie Trenholm, owner/manager of World Odyssey Travel and Cruise in Mission.
“There’s less kids and it’s usually less expensive.”
While many people have to book their trips around Christmas vacation, spring break or during the summer, seniors have many more options.
“Go in September. Go in June. Go when the kids are still in school and the prices are a little bit more competitive.
Of course, many seniors still want to enjoy some time in the sun and a summer cruise is often the answer.
At this time of year, the Alaska cruise is still the most popular travel destination for seniors. Trenholm said it’s because they don’t have to fly anywhere, they just get someone to take them into Vancouver. Then they are on the ship and looked after.
“Because a lot of seniors don’t want to fly anymore,” she said.
Sometimes it’s for health reasons, but more often they just don’t want the hassle of the upgraded security, time change, and other travel challenges.
“We are finding more and more seniors usually looking for options that they don’t have to get on a plane.”
Cruises are also popular because of the convenience.
“You don’t have to keep packing and unpacking.”
On coach tours, travelers often stay at different hotels every few days. That requires constantly loading up your suitcase and unpacking at the next destination which many seniors don’t want to do.
For those who don’t mind hopping from one hotel to another, Eastern coach tours are also popular as it allows seniors to visit the other side of Canada.
Hawaii is still high on the list as it is a relatively short flight and an English-speaking destination.
Seniors are also looking for shorter trips, especially if they are leaving the country.
“They don’t want to pay insurance for two weeks, they want to go for four or five days. They maybe don’t feel comfortable being away from their home for too long anymore, so we are doing a lot of little short trips, to San Diego or Palm Springs,” said Trenholm.
That, of course, does not encompass every senior. Trenholm is quick to point out that many retirees are still booking flights to Paris, Italy or wherever. It depends on how active they want to be.
“A lot of our seniors are in unbelievable health now, so really, there is no problem, they travel like anybody else. You can’t just say, ‘because you’re 65, you can’t go wherever.’ It’s totally going to depend on their health and their frame of mind.”
The following are some travel tips.
Insurance: Trenholm said all travelers should have proper medical insurance if they plan on leaving the country.
“You can’t travel without that, just don’t do it.”
She also suggests people have cancellation insurance, although some may be willing to take the risk of losing their initial investment, rather than pay more for insurance.
Prescriptions: Make sure you have an adequate amount of your prescription drugs with you. Also, have a copy of your prescription from your doctor.
“In case you lose your prescriptions or they’re stolen or lost, you may have to replace them.”
Eyeglasses: Take a spare pair. Many vacations have been ruined because someone broke their glasses and had to spend two blurry weeks on holiday.
Accommodations: Trenholm advises that people look carefully at the hotels they book.
“A lot of hotels, especially in another country, don’t necessarily have elevators and we assume that they would. So all of a sudden you are on the third floor and you can’t do the stairs.”
The same reasoning applies to wheelchair accessibility. Some hotels don’t have rooms, or have limited numbers of rooms designed to people with disabilities or movement issues. A travel agent should be able to ensure you are booked into a facility to suit your personal needs.
Safety: Don’t take large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry with you on holidays.
“If you are taking some cash, split it up. Don’t have it all in one little purse.”