Older Americans are some of the most adventurous travelers in the country. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, 77 percent of seniors planned on booking a trip somewhere within six months of receiving their COVID vaccines.1
With the holiday season coming up, you may be considering traveling to visit family and friends, or simply to find greener pastures in a warmer part of the globe. Whatever the case may be, we want to help you be more prepared, organized, and confident about your travels.
Below are five simple tips to make holiday travel a breeze for seniors.
1. Make a List and Check It Twice
No, we're not talking about St. Nick's list. We're talking about a travel checklist that can help you plan for your travels and ensure you have everything you need while you're on vacation.
A comprehensive travel checklist could include the following tips and reminders:
- Make sure your passport is valid.
- If your travel destination requires a visa, make sure you file the proper documentation to secure it before traveling.
- Make a list of any unique clothes you might need to pack, especially if you're traveling to a hotter or colder climate.
- Ensure you get a good amount of cash in the local currency upon arrival.
- Pack any electronics, gadgets, headphones, cameras, and other devices you may want.
- Bring any toiletries you may need.
- Pack additional medication in case you run out due to flight cancellations or other unexpected incidents.
- Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which can help keep you safe in the event of a natural disaster, family emergency, or civil unrest. It also helps your family get in touch with you in the event of an emergency, and it's absolutely free.
- Consult with your doctor before traveling to make sure you have the appropriate vaccinations and medications.
- Are you traveling internationally? You might need a travel insurance plan. Travel insurance can help cover medical needs, specific trips (like cruises), and travelers with preexisting conditions.
More info: Unsure which travel insurance provider to go with? Check out our list of the best travel insurance for seniors for more information.
2. Book Early
You don't want to be rushed or pay for high, last-minute prices during the holidays. Booking your flights, hotels, tours, and activities at least six months in advance will yield the most options and flexibility. If you're unsure when you'll be free to travel, try to book as soon as you can. Most early ticket sales allow you to make changes and customize your itinerary up to a certain date, which is hard to do with last-minute travel plans.
Pro Tip: According to Expedia, booking at least one month in advance for a domestic flight or six months in advance for an international flight can save you an average of 10 percent on your ticket.2
Either way, booking early could offer better travel deals, more options, more time to plan, and more anticipation!
3. Consider Your Medical Needs
We already covered some of the medical-related things to include in your checklist, but this is such an important topic it deserves its own section. Speak to your doctor about the unique needs of your travel destination and your medical history. Beyond what your doctors recommend, you can follow these tips:
- Travel with a list of the prescriptions (including the dosage) you need in both English and the local language.
- Make sure you have a medicine bag that is readily available and easily accessible.
- Be aware of time-zone changes, and make sure you talk to your doctor about how to adjust your medication schedule to account for those changes.
- Be aware of any travel restrictions while going abroad. If your prescription contains codeine, you may not be able to bring it to specific countries.
- Inform TSA of the medication you have with you. You can carry liquid medicine, even if it's more than 3.4 ounces, but you need to inform the TSA agents for it to get through.
Pro Tip: Looking to cut some costs so you can save up for your next trip? Prescription discount cards are an easy way to save money on your medications. Check out our guide to the best prescription discount cards to learn more!
4. Take Advantage of Senior Discounts
There are many senior discounts from airlines, car rental agencies, travel agencies, insurance groups, and other organizations. Below are some of the best discounts you can take advantage of as an older American.
- Ticket discounts from airlines like Southwest, American, British, and United Airlines.
- Car rental discounts from Alamo Car Rental (AARP members), Avis Car Rental (AARP members), Hertz Senior Discount, Dollar Rent-A-Car, and more.
- An AARP membership can get you a discount on hotel bookings with Best Western, Cambria Suites, Candlewood Suites, Clarion Hotels, Comfort Inn, Hampton Inn, and others. The Holiday Inn, Hyatt Hotel, and Crown Plaza have their own discounts for seniors, with or without an AARP membership.
- Cruise discounts from Carnival Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and others.
Money-Saving Tip: Want to learn more about discounts catering to older Americans? Check out our guide on senior discounts and savings.
5. Get Your Luggage Delivered
If you plan on going golfing, skiing, hiking, or simply have a few large pieces of luggage to carry with you, consider getting your luggage delivered to your destination ahead of time. Luggage delivery has become popular because of how quick, easy, and convenient it is, especially when you're traveling with a lot of pieces. These companies make it easy to track your bags, so you can keep tabs on your luggage every step of their journey.
FYI: LugLess is one of the most affordable luggage delivery options, with prices starting as low as $15 a bag.
There are several popular companies to choose from, including LugLess, SendMyBag, and Luggage Forward.
Traveling doesn't have to be stressful. With the right preparation, discounts, and resources, you can have a safe, affordable, fun, and hassle-free trip.
To learn more about how to get the most out of your trips, read our senior travel and vacation guide.