According to some sources, this is a golden age for silver travelers – today’s pensioners have never had it so good, enjoying a perfect combination of 21st century health benefits for a long and happy retirement and 20th century pension plans that will no longer be available for future generations.
Whether circumstances are quite as rosy as that for everyone is open to debate, but one thing is for certain – pensioners today are more mobile, active and adventurous than ever before, and spend more on leisure travel than any other demographic according to statistics from AARP Research.
Why the travel bug?
Finally having the time and money available to get out there and explore those places you have always wanted to visit is enough in itself for most retirees, but some have more deep-rooted reasons.
Some want to revisit places they saw in their earlier years, and others focus on educational tours to learn more about subjects that have always intrigued them.
A growing number choose to take a practical approach to their own mortality and use this as an opportunity to consider their final destination when it comes to their burial or indeed the spreading of ashes after cremation. You might think this sounds morbid, but one of the few certainties in life is that this is a question we all need to address at some point, and this sort of pragmatic approach is actually hugely refreshing for all concerned.
Preparing for healthy travel
There are some pre-travel tips that apply to people of all ages, one of which is ensuring you have the necessary vaccinations such as tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis and typhoid, depending on your chosen destination. Age is not a contraindication for any vaccine, so even if you have received it before, you might need a booster. The theory that age gives some sort of natural immunity is a myth – in fact, we tend to be more susceptible to infections as we get older.
A pre-travel health consultation is a sensible precaution to discuss both the question of vaccinations and your general health. And if you regularly take any medications for existing conditions such as blood pressure or cholesterol, make sure your doctor prescribes enough to last the duration of the trip.
On the subject of health, it is essential you have adequate travel health insurance. If you do not have pre-existing medical cover, take some out, and bear in mind that any health problems you already have usually need to be declared in advance.
Given the large number of retirees enjoying international travel, it might come as a surprise that few actually budget for it. This is an important consideration, as despite the relative wealth of today’s pensioners, they live in extremely complex and turbulent financial times.
More of us retire in debt than ever before, and with investments showing limited returns due to the global economic crisis, most annuities are not performing anywhere close to the projections you might have seen when you first took them out.
With a large number of retirees therefore relying on multiple incomes, perhaps from more than one pension and a spread of investments, it is as essential to keep track of finances in retirement as it is at any other time in life.
Stay safe on your travels
More traveling pensioners unfortunately also means a new favorite target for undesirables, both at home and overseas. Follow some basic safety precautions to keep yourself and your property safe.
If you will be leaving your property empty while you travel, let your neighbors know you will be away and ask them to keep an eye on your property. Ideally, ask them to collect your mail, as if left to pile up, it gives a sure sign that householders are out of town. Electronic timers that switch on lights at different times are also a great investment for home security.
You also need to take care of yourself and your belongings while you are away. In 99% of cases, your property is safe and secure in the hotel, but why risk joining the 1%? If your room has a safe, use it for passports and valuables, and if you are out exploring the old town, keep the jewelry and expensive watches to a minimum.
It is probably true that future generations of retirees will look back on this as a golden age for pensioners. So make the most of it and have a great time seeing the world – happy travels!