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Senior Travel for Solo Retirees and Travellers Over 50

We all look forward to the day when we no longer have to deal with the daily grind of earning a living and can finally revel in the open space on our retirement calendars. It is time to travel to the faraway places of our dreams. Seniors, retirees, and those over 50 discover travel goals and needs different from those of our younger years. We are much less likely to be found in dorm rooms or nightclubs. Most of us have accepted that our youthful dream of scaling Mount Everest will not happen.

Modern seniors enjoy better health and longevity. Improved medical treatments, preventive care, and healthier lifestyle choices benefit us with a higher overall quality of life. Decades of careful financial planning and favourable economic conditions provide a budget for activities that were out of reach in years past. Today's seniors are more likely to embrace technology and have a more diverse and active lifestyle.

AI generated image of an old lady riding a motorcycle
image: Ivana Tomášková - pixabay



Senior Travel for Solo Retirees and Travellers Over 50

Travellers who are 50 years old or older need to consider unique issues and considerations that were less important during our youth. We will likely enjoy larger budgets, but we acknowledge our physical limitations. We are less likely to head to a nightclub but want to interact with other travellers and locals. We're comfortable with the technology we use on a daily basis but are slower to adopt new apps and digital security services. We consider ourselves savvy but are more likely to be targeted by scams and price-gouging attempts.

Health Concerns

Older travellers may have pre-existing medical conditions or concerns that need to be managed while travelling, including mobility issues, chronic illnesses, or the need for regular medication. Accessibility and accommodations become more important considerations.

We tend to prioritize comfort and convenience over strenuous activities, choosing accommodations with amenities and minimizing physical discomfort while travelling.

A pharmacy sign with a green cross

Helpful Hints:

Pack lighter. If you pack it, you should be able to manage your luggage alone—lifting it into overhead bins, hauling it up and down stairs, and wrangling it through crowds. While it is tempting to accept the assistance of helpful locals, and most offers will be kind, this method of demanding tips or stealing luggage is a common scam.

Be realistic about fitness when choosing activities and destinations. Don't push too far beyond your home activity level to avoid aches and injuries that will disrupt future excursions. Research your destination to be prepared for hills and uneven pavement. Older cities often have limited accessibility supports and elevators. Build "respite" days into your itinerary to rejuvenate with a low-key day of meandering, reading in the park, or people-watching from a patio balcony at a neighbourhood café.

Check the rules about medications and supplements. All medicines must be in original packaging with the pharmacy label attached. Many travellers have reported no difficulty taking repackaged meds in pill boxes through security, but I don't want to risk having my prescriptions seized by security. Your destination country may restrict some prescription medicines. Refer to Medical Troubles While Travelling for more details.

An injured man being loaded into an ambulance

Travel Insurance for Seniors

As people age, travel insurance becomes more expensive and complicated. Senior travellers must carefully review insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage for our needs. Travel insurance may include medical expenses, trip cancellations, interruptions, and lost baggage. The fine print must be read and understood. It is especially important to know what isn't covered and the required procedures to make a claim.

Helpful Hints Do not travel without insurance.

Read the fine print.

My post, "Here's the Scoop on Travel Insurance," provides a more detailed examination of what travellers need to consider when choosing the right travel insurance.

a desk with notebook, shells, airline ticket, and laptop with the screen showing a graphic for travel insurance

Safety Concerns

Older travellers may be more cautious about safety and security while travelling, particularly in unfamiliar or high-risk destinations. We may take extra precautions to avoid accidents, scams, or health hazards. Being cautious is wise but extraordinary measures are rarely required. Helpful Hints Share itineraries and locations with someone at home to let them know your travel plans. Have a plan to check in with loved ones.

Leave flashy jewellery at home.

Stow essential documents safely.

Keep devices and other valuables in secure locations.

Divide cash and cards into different pockets.

For more details and hints, refer to my post, Generic Bad Guys.

graphiic of  pickpocket stealing from a woman's handbag

Cultural differences

Older travellers may have different cultural perspectives and preferences, which can influence our travel experiences and interactions with locals. It's essential to respect local customs and traditions while seeking opportunities for meaningful cultural exchange. Take time to do some research on local culture to avoid Accidental Rudeness.

a graphic showing iconic tourist sites (Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Taj Mahal, Leaning Tower, Big Ben
credit; Travel Daily News Asia

Communication/Data Security

When travelling to international destinations, learning some phrases in the local language is polite, invites positive conversations with locals, and can be a valuable safety skill. Accurately pronouncing and recognizing essential words and phrases assists with navigation, ordering meals, haggling prices, locating services, and avoiding scams. If you only speak English, consider beginning a language module using an online program such as Duolingo before your trip. Travellers of all ages rely on our devices. We want to make calls, receive messages, manage documents, scroll social media and use navigation programs. Calls outside North America are often made using VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) software such as WhatsApp, Skype, and Facetime. Travellers who wish to have mobile coverage outside of their home area will need to add a roaming package to their existing plan or purchase a SIM card. Most modern phones accept eSIMs. I recommend Airalo for ease of use and affordability. Sadly, identity theft is a genuine concern, whether at home or away. Connecting to public Wi-Fi (including hotels and restaurants) is risky.

a graphic showing a robber emerging from a computer screen and credit cards
image credit: Mohamed Hassan - pixabay

Helpful Hints

Learn key phrases in the local language and practice using a translation program/app, using text, speech, and images.

Add service through your home provider, physical SIM, or installation of an eSIM.

Install a VPN to keep your data safe.

For a more detailed discussion of digital security, refer to my previous post titled Data and Device Security. Practice your selfie skills.

Social Connections

Travelling as an older adult may involve different social dynamics, particularly if travelling alone. Some older travellers may seek opportunities for social interaction and companionship, while others may prefer solitude or more relaxed social environments. Joining group tours is a solution that works for many -- whether for a couple of hours or the entire trip.

Helpful Hints

For group tours, look at the itinerary carefully to determine the time spent at each stop compared to time spent in transport. Remember that almost every group tour includes at least one person who will be late returning to the meeting place, reducing your time at the later stops.

For more ideas on including social interactions when travelling without companions, check out the post, Travelling Solo but Not Alone.

Group of 8 people at a cooking class with completed Indonsiaan food in front.

Solo Travel Skills

Seniors are travelling more often without friends or family, especially women. A significant portion of these travellers are travelling solo for the first time. Safety concerns, eating alone, digital security, handling foreign money, and communication are expected. Nervous newbie solo travellers can refer to my series on The Scary World of Solo Travel for detailed tips and advice (link to blog category)

View of aauthor from behind as she looks at flower pot rock formations

Final Thoughts

After decades of work and wise planning, combined with the magic of compound interest and exploding real estate values, retirees and travellers over 50 have the time and money to explore the world. We also acknowledge that as older travellers, we face some unique challenges. With proper planning and consideration, we can enjoy enriching and fulfilling travel experiences for many more years.

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