The COVID-19 global pandemic put a serious damper on international travel. Travel was completely restricted to certain parts of the world for many months and, when it was allowed, was heavily regulated. The vaccine passport and shelter-in-place requirements for visitors made leaving your home country considerably less appealing than just staying put.
Well, it’s 2023 now, and all those restrictions and protocols are behind us, so getting back to those bucket-list travel plans is more exciting than ever. This is especially great news for folks around retirement age, who want to see the world after a lifetime of making their mark and contributing what they could to life on earth.
Robin Warren is one such person; a sixty-something primary school teacher, and mother of adult kids, who has maintained a robust spirit of adventure into her senior years. Not even Covid-19 slowed her down, and she has plans to keep going well into her twilight time.
“I have only been 60 for (almost) five years. Age has not slowed me down – I have travelled to Canada, the US, and Brazil since 2019; all during the world’s Covid issue. I like being a tourist wherever I go, as it seems that tourists have more interest in seeing the things that locals take for granted.”
This is definitely true, as meeting locals at world renowned attractions is not really common. If you do want to meet locals, and indulge in local cultures, however, there are plenty of tours and programmes available to do just that. Food tours, shopping tours, and local guides are readily available in many popular locations, and they offer a taste of what the locals consider the best of what their homeland has to offer.
Many seniors travel to seek alternative medical treatments. Treatments that are often informed by culture, and time-tested methodology that western medicine has left behind in favour of pharmaceutical solutions. Organic, homeopathic, and herbal medical treatments are certainly worth traveling for – as are quality modern treatments that just happen to be significantly more economically viable in other parts of the world.
Ms Warren has plans to sort out a medical need in Brazil this summer.
“I am going to Brazil over the summer. This trip will be one that will pay for itself, as I am having dental work completed there at a fraction of the cost that I would have to pay here. Fortunately, I do have some acquaintances in Brazil that I want to get to know better (my son’s in-laws). Also, our summer is their winter, but comparable to Bermuda’s winter – all good for me!”
Travel is something that can truly replenish the human soul. Medical travel, food, music, and culture exploration, romance, holiday-making, and simply seeing more of the world we live in can all enhance our lives in sublime and magical ways, especially when we’ve reached a stage in our lives where we know what we like, and we’re not afraid to pursue it.
Travel agents and airlines will often incentivise travel for seniors, and people traveling with family alike. Offering all-inclusive packages that include such conveniences as ground transportation in your destination country, and access to exclusive amenities like guided tours by local experts and scheduled visits to local markets.
Another way to save on travel is to engage with frequent flyer programmes, which every airline does these days, or only travel when you have enough time to switch travel dates at a moment’s notice. Ms Warren advised flexibility with your travel dates – if you want to catch a last-minute deal.
“I have had many good deals. I have had many free tickets offered to me, and have taken many trips using them. I usually book way ahead of time, and that saves, but my travel dates are usually flexible, so that gives me the opportunity to let others go to their destination on overbooked flights. And flying anywhere for under $200 round trip is always a deal.”
Of course, if you’re traveling with a group, you’d all have to agree to get the deal. So, traveling alone is certainly more flexible, but is it safe?
“I don’t mind travelling alone; I actually prefer it unless I have a very relaxed travelling companion that doesn’t have to have everything planned out all the time. I like to plan outings, but I am not going to put myself in harm’s way. I am going to see whatever the place has to offer – be it the largest strawberry field, the smallest church, anything that sparks my interest is fair game to me.”
If you trust yourself, and know what your interests are, there’s no reason to fear traveling alone as a senior. Plan activities in safe environments – avoid slums, favelas, shantytowns, and similar areas, unless you go with a trusted local who can keep you safe. Only do things that interest you – don’t be ‘encouraged’ to indulge in something that a stranger recommends; trusted locals only! Be kind, but never overly generous with tips. Trust your gut – you’re a well-seasoned grown up.
Before long, you’ll be a world traveller, like Ms Warren.
“I have travelled to all but three states in the USA, Japan, Europe, and several islands. This, summer I will travel to Brazil and, while there, I plan on seeing the rainforest and going to see the Christ statue in Rio de Janeiro.
“I lived in England for almost two years. The three states I have not visited are Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. It seems that there is a cruise to Alaska that I may go on if the timing is right – I want to see the northern lights. I have travelled by planes, trains and automobiles. Never been on a cruise, but some say it’s cheaper to go on cruises as a lifestyle when you are older.
“Maybe I will meet someone who likes to travel, or get a job as a traveling companion with someone – who knows – life is for living, and one never knows what will happen.”