Consumers are taking the leap into solo travel, despite the rising cost of travel in recent months due to higher inflation and interest rates.
Travel alone during retirement is nothing new, and millions of retirees and more mature adults enjoy the excitement of experiencing a new country or culture for themselves.
Most recent statistics indicate that 16% of people in the United States have gone on a solo vacation, that’s more than 53 million Americans embarking on a solo adventure. More surprisingly, another 83 million of them are planning a solo trip in the coming months and years, even as cost pressure weighs on their budgets.
While it is often more difficult and more expensive to travel alone, many consumers find it easier to do so as it gives them more freedom and flexibility to visit destinations and experiences they have always dreamed of.
With crowds of Americans taking to the skies again amid the travel resurgence, older and more mature adults are now also capitalizing on the idea of traveling alone, even if it requires careful planning.
Most recent data from 2016 suggest that of the 32 million Americans over age 65 who live alone, more than 10% of them tend to travel alone or embark on a solo adventure in retirement.
Going even further back to 2014, travelers aged 45 and over were very satisfied with their solo experience, with a majority – 81% – saying they were already planning to take another single adventure in the 12 months that followed after the trip. questionnaire was conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
David Stewart, CEO of travel aggregator Guide to Europe says that “consumers shouldn’t feel restricted to travel because of their age. We’re seeing all kinds of people benefiting from solo travel these days, regardless of age, and that shows us as a team how we can make a difference in other people’s lives by the services we offer them.”
Age is indeed just a number, but that number comes with many challenges and risks if you end up booking the wrong vacation or not doing proper research. To make things easier for you, here’s a rundown of some of the mistakes many retirees face when planning a solo trip.
Mistakes you should avoid as a retired solo traveler
1. Not knowing your physical limitations
At any age or period in your life, you have come across an activity that has pushed you to your limits. Whether you are a young 20 year old, or have recently left the workforce and retired – we all have our limits.
As a retiree looking to take a solo trip during your golden years, it’s important to understand your physical limitations and how to plan a trip that meets your needs.
Before you start planning, you should visit your doctor for a professional opinion on your health condition. You could feel that you are in the best shape you’ve ever beenbut it’s best to be prepared and know what you can and can’t do while on vacation.
2. Not planning effectively
Travel comes with a lot of planningfrom choosing a destination, booking tickets, deciding on accommodation options and looking for fun, yet appropriate activities to do within your means.
If you ask a travel expert, or even someone who travels alone often, they’ll tell you about the benefits of planning far ahead, and there’s a good reason behind it.
For starters, last-minute travel deals aren’t that readily available either, and for someone your age, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got everything sorted out before you arrive. Once you know where you want to go, you can consider how you will get around, or if the area is safe enough for a foreigner to travel alone.
In addition, you should consider things like clinics and hospitals in case of a medical emergency, or if you need a prescription to be refilled abroad. You may need to renew your passport or apply for one the first time you travel. This all takes time and requires some money upfront to cover costs, so it’s best to start planning early.
3. Ignoring budget-friendly group options
While you may consider traveling alone, often due to financial or personal constraints, you will need to make some adjustments. Before you cancel your trip completely or postpone it to a later date, it is wise to first investigate whether budget-friendly group trips are possible in your area.
Group travel packages are often designed and planned specifically around seniors, to ensure they get the most out of their experience and get value for money. Plus, depending on where tour groups go, you can meet like-minded people who share the same wanderlust excitement as you.
Travel agencies and various travel aggregators have tour groups visiting a number of exciting and interesting places both abroad and domestically.
4. Skipping the travel insurance
The chances of ever using your travel insurance are somewhat unlikely, but you can never be too safe, especially if you are traveling alone. Travel insurance is a simple and safe way to protect your belongings and cover unforeseen costs such as a canceled flight.
In some more serious cases, travel insurance also helps with a medical emergency or if you end up in hospital abroad. You may also need insurance in case you lose your passport or need a repatriation flight home.
There are many reasons why travel insurance is important, and it is best to check with your health insurer, or credit card company about the type of cover they may already offer in your current policy, or if you need to take out a temporary policy abroad.
5. Choosing the wrong destination
Once you have an idea of where you want to go, you should start researching whether they meet your needs and meet all your requirements.
Most destinations these days cater to a wide range of travelers of all ages, and while this has given travelers a chance to roam freely, there’s always that one thing that can potentially become an inconvenience.
If you plan to visit a remote destination, think about how you will get there, by plane, train or boat, and how long it will take you to get there. Once you get there, how do you get around to see the sites? Do the locals speak English and understand you if you need help?
Make sure you choose a destination that is closely related to where you are coming from as this will not only help you get around more easily but also make the journey more enjoyable.
6. Go all out from the start
Now that you’re retired, you might want to squeeze just as much into it possible travel. While not entirely impossible, it’s easy to overdo yourself a bit on the first trip, which can often leave a bad taste in your mouth.
When you start planning your solo trip, see how you can balance travel and relaxation without giving in to the whole experience. While you want to see as much as possible and visit as many places as possible, make a list of the most important things and limit yourself to a few options.
Take plenty of time to make sure you are in the right shape to travel alone, not only for your safety, but also for things like carrying your luggage, standing in long lines at the airport, or having to walk long distances .
7. Breaking the bank
With travel costs up across the boardfrom airline tickets to accommodation and even car rentals, you should have a travel budget handy to ensure you don’t spend all your savings on a single trip.
Once you know where you want to go, you can create a budget that includes transportation, accommodation, car rental, and food, among other things. In addition, you should also have a budget for activities and excursions, such as access to parks and museums.
Fortunately for retirees, there are plenty of senior travel packages and promotions available throughout the year. More so, if you have a travel rewards card, you can take advantage of the senior benefits, or look for offers specifically tailored to your age group.
8. Not using technology properly
Nowadays it is possible to book an entire trip with one click. What’s even more impressive is the fact that you can plan, book and pay for a vacation with one simple mobile application.
Digital tools and technology have brought the world closer to us, making it a lot easier for us to travel more easily.
Before you go, find out about the latest travel apps you can use abroad, or ask a younger family member to help you with the app. Plus, you can play around with the app a bit to make sure you’re comfortable using it without the help of others.
Technology has done incredible things for us, and if we don’t use it properly will lead to costly and inconvenient mistakes.
9. Assuming everything is still the way it was
Often we have a certain level of expectation before embarking on an exotic vacation. And while things may have been some time ago when you were younger, things are unlikely to be the same today.
A lot can change over the years and you will notice that in your body retired community also. When traveling abroad, the best thing to do is to manage your expectations, do some reading or ask around to see if anyone has recently visited the place you want to go.
If you have an idea of what you might encounter, it’s best to keep in mind that things may have changed a bit over the years, regardless of the current state of things.
10. Don’t do it sooner
Many mature adults often stop traveling until they retire, simply because they have more time and money to do so once they leave the workforce. In fact, single retirees often won’t travel alone because they feel limited by their health, or because they don’t have anyone to do it with.
While these may be valid reasons to travel later rather than earlier, it’s best to start planning and make sure you can experience as much as possible.
Pension gives you more freedom and flexibility to travel as often and for as long as you want. Now is the best time to enjoy life’s simpler luxuries and make the most of your golden years.
it comes down to
Traveling alone has its advantages, but also brings some considerations. For retirees willing to travel alone, it’s important to make sure they’re up to date with the latest travel insights and trends so they can plan an unforgettable vacation.
For solo travelers, it’s best to make sure you have an idea of where you want to go, how much it will cost you, and how you’ll get around once you get there. You’ll also want to make sure your accommodation is arranged before you leave and that you’ve communicated with friends and family back home about your travel plans.
Making time to plan well will make your vacation more relaxed and enjoyable, as you enjoy the simple pleasures that life has to offer at retirement age.
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