Who says age should be any barrier to adventure? Certainly not a large chunk of people who have reached retirement age, if figures are anything to go by.
According to a Europe-wide survey published in 2021, people aged 65 and over make up a quarter of all tourists across the continent, and tend to enjoy longer trips than other age groups.
And why not? With the freedoms retirement brings, not to mention children growing up and leaving home, later life is the perfect time for many people to strike out into the big wide world.
Don’t believe the stereotypes of pensioners wanting a quiet life with nothing more than the comforts of their own home. Baby boomers want to live out their golden years with a bang.
That said, the older you get, exploring the world isn’t always plain sailing. Certain challenges have a nasty habit of cropping up that can be off-putting. However, there’s little that should seriously deter an intrepid adventurer with a passion for broadening their horizons. It just takes a little know-how and extra planning.
Here are three obstacles you might run into when planning to travel in later life, and what you can do to overcome them.
Recent research has revealed that the average cost of travel insurance doubles for people between the ages of 65 and 70. And after 70, the costs can rise even more steeply.
This is all because travel insurance companies are allowed to charge older travellers more on the grounds that they are more likely to make a claim. Many insurers choose to act on this by applying rather crude year-on-year price hikes once you reach a certain age.
At its worst, this can lead to people reaching a point where they are being priced out of going abroad, simply because the insurance costs are so high.
Another barrier facing older travellers is the fact that a lot of insurers operate age caps, meaning they simply won’t sell you a policy once you reach that age.
Being quoted extortionate amounts for travel insurance, or indeed being told you are ineligible because of your age, can be a nasty shock. But it doesn’t need to be the end of your travelling days by any means. Not all insurance companies treat age as an issue.
Some, in fact, specialise in over 70s travel insurance. They base their business on selling policies geared to the needs of older travellers at a fair price. After all, with so many senior citizens keen to keep exploring the world, there’s a lucrative market there for them.
They say age creeps up on you. For many people, declining health creeps up along with it. It’s just one of those unavoidable facts of ageing that, as the years advance, you are more and more likely to develop any number of medical conditions.
How your health impacts on your ability to travel is difficult to generalise. Every condition, every case indeed, is different. There’s a continuum that ranges from a diagnosed health condition being well controlled and having minimal impact on your day-to-day life, to causing serious and debilitating symptoms that badly affect your entire quality of life.
Many people move back and forth along this continuum. Only you (and your doctor) will know your fitness to go adventuring around the world at any given time.
There are a few universal knock-on effects of having a medical condition when it comes to travel, however. One is medication. If you are on any prescribed drugs, you will need to plan ahead to take what you need with you.
Care also needs to be taken with certain medications (e.g. opiates prescribed for pain relief), as different countries have different rules on what is permitted for medical purposes and what is not. Always consult your doctor, and ask them to write a letter explaining what each medication is and what it is for, just in case you are challenged by authorities.
Another thing you have to be aware of is the impact having a medical condition has on travel insurance. Again, sadly the general pattern is that it will push prices up and make getting a policy more difficult.
Medical cover is a big part of travel insurance, providing financial protection if you need emergency medical treatment abroad. Standard policies are not designed to cover specific treatments for specific conditions, and most insurers don’t want to take on the extra financial risk.
Not all, though. Again, some specialists focus on bespoke medical cover for diagnosed conditions. It’s important to seek out a policy that explicitly lists treatments and interventions specific to your condition, as standard cover will not pay out for these.
Finally, along with health issues, one of the biggest things that puts older people off travelling is reduced mobility. Understandably, the prospect of long queues at airports for baggage and security, not to mention those long walks to departure gates, can seem very daunting if you need a mobility aid to get around.
Similarly, a lot of things that people enjoy doing when they travel – sightseeing tours on foot, long hikes to enjoy the countryside – can feel out of reach.
But choose the right destination, and support for reduced mobility will be just as available as it is at home. If you contact your airline in advance, they will be happy to arrange assistance at airports on departure and arrival, including priority access through security, boarding etc.
As far as getting around once you arrive at your destination, the first thing is to choose the right type of accommodation. Nowadays, it is easy to check online what access facilities are in place, whether it is stairlifts, rooms modified for wheelchair users etc.
As for getting out and about and enjoying activities, again, you can research all the options well in advance online these days. If you are heading to a major city and don’t want to miss out on the sightseeing, special tours are widely available that will focus on the most access-friendly sights and provide transport – if you’re lucky, you might stumble across a mobility scooter tour!
Thanks for reading xxx
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Hi and welcome to The Willow Tree. I’m Michelle, also known as Shel and I am a mama to three beautiful crazy kids – I have two handsome boys and a wild and wonderful girl.
I really wanted a concrete place to share my love for travel, in particular Disney and offer my readers a chance to gain some knowledge around what we love to do as a family of 5.
I share our family adventures which include days out, travel advice and tips, holiday reviews, restaurant visits and of course, our love for Disney, including Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World.
Life is about creating memories, and here we are sharing them with you
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