Consumers are taking the plunge into solo traveling, despite the cost of traveling surging in recent months due to higher inflation and interest rates.
Traveling alone during retirement is nothing new, and millions of retirees and more mature adults are enjoying the excitement of experiencing a new country or culture by themselves.
Most recent statistics indicate that 16% of people in the United States have taken a vacation by themselves, that’s more than 53 million Americans embarking on a solo adventure. More surprisingly an additional 83 million of them are planning a solo trip in the coming months and years even as the cost burden weighs on their budgets.
Though it tends to be harder, and more expensive to travel alone, many consumers are finding it easier to do so, as it allows them better freedom and flexibility to visit destinations and experiences they’ve always dreamt of.
With droves of Americans taking to the skies again amid the travel rebound, older and more mature adults are also now tapping into the idea of solo travel, even if it requires some meticulous planning.
The most recent data from 2016 suggest that out of the 32 million Americans older than 65 years that live alone, more than 10% of them tend to travel alone or embark on a solo adventure at least once during their retirement.
Going back even further to 2014 we see that travelers aged 45 years and up were highly satisfied with their solo experience, and a majority – 81% – said they were already planning on taking another single-person adventure in the 12 months that followed after the survey was conducted by The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
David Stewart, CEO of travel aggregator Guide to Europe tells that, “consumers shouldn’t feel restricted to travel because of their age, we see all sorts of people taking advantage of solo travel these days, regardless of their age and that shows to us as a team how we can make a difference in other people’s lives through the services we provide them.”
Age is indeed just a number, but that number does come with a lot of challenges and risks if you end up booking the wrong holiday or not doing proper research. To make matters easier, here’s a look at some of the mistakes many retirees come face-to-face with when they plan for a solo trip.
Mistakes To Avoid As A Solo Retired Traveler
1. Not knowing your physical limitations
At any given age or period in your life, you have encountered an activity that has pushed you to your limits. Whether you’re a young 20-something, or recently stepped out of the workforce and into retirement – we all have our limits.
As a retiree that looks to embark on a solo trip during your golden years, it’s important to understand what your physical limitations are, and how you can plan a trip that accommodates your needs.
Before you start planning, make sure to visit your doctor to get a professional opinion on the state of your health. You might feel as if you’re in the best shape you’ve ever been, but it’s best to be prepared and know what you can and cannot do while you’re on holiday.
2. Not effectively planning
Traveling comes with a lot of planning, from choosing a destination, booking tickets, deciding on accommodation options, and looking for fun, yet applicable activities to do within your means.
If you ask any travel expert or even someone who often travels alone, they will tell of the benefits that come with planning well ahead, and there’s good reasoning behind it as well.
For starters, last-minute travel deals are also not so readily available, and for someone at your age, you want to make sure you have everything sorted before arriving. Once you know where you want to go, you can consider how you will be getting around, or if the area is safe enough to travel alone as a foreigner.
Additionally, you need to think of things such as clinics and hospitals in case of a medical emergency, or if you need a prescription refilled while abroad. You may need to renew your passport or apply for one if you’re a first-time traveler. This all takes time and requires some upfront money to cover the costs so it’s best to start planning early.
3. Ignoring budget-friendly group options
While you may be thinking of taking a solo trip, often due to financial or personal limitations, you will be required to make some adjustments. Before you completely cancel your trip or postpone it until a later time, do a bit of research if there are any budget-friendly group travel options available in your area.
Group travel packages are often specifically designed and planned around senior citizens, to ensure they can get the most out of their experience and the best bang for their buck. On top of this, depending on where travel groups may go, you will be able to meet similar like-minded people who share the same wanderlust excitement as you do.
Travel agents and several travel aggregators have travel groups that visit some exciting and interesting places, both abroad and back home as well.
4. Skipping the travel insurance
The chances of you ever using your travel insurance are somewhat unlikely, but you can never be too safe, especially when you’re traveling by yourself. Travel insurance is a simple and secure way to protect your belongings, and help cover unforeseen costs such as a canceled flight.
In some more severe instances, travel insurance will also help assist in case of a medical emergency, or if you end up in a hospital in a foreign country. You may also need insurance to help you in case you lose your passport, or you require a repatriation flight back home.
There are a lot of reasons why travel insurance is important, and it’s best to follow up with your health insurance provider, or credit card company about the type of coverage they may already be offering in your current policy, or if you will be required to take out a temporary policy while overseas.
5. Choosing the wrong destination
Once you have some idea of where you want to go, you will need to start researching whether they cater to your needs and meet all your requirements.
Most destinations these days cater to a wide range of travelers from all age groups, and while this has given travelers the chance to freely roam, there’s always that one thing that could potentially become an inconvenience.
If you’re planning to visit a remote destination, consider how you will be getting there, either by plane, train, or boat, and how long it will take you to get there. Once you’re there, how will you be getting around to seeing the sites? Do the locals speak English, and will they understand you if you need assistance?
Make sure to choose a destination that’s closely related to where you’re from, as this will not only help you get around easier but also make the trip more enjoyable.
6. Going all out from the start
Now that you’re retired, you might be looking to squeeze in as much traveling as possible. While this is not completely impossible, it’s easy to overdo yourself on the first trip a bit too much, which can often leave a bad taste in your mouth.
As you start to plan your solo trip, see how you can find a balance between travel and relaxation, without overindulging in the entire experience. Although you want to see as much as possible and visit as many places as possible, make a list of the most important things, and narrow it down to a few options.
Take enough time to make sure you are in the right shape to travel alone, not only for your safety, but also for things such as carrying your luggage, standing in long queues at the airport, or having to walk long distances.
7. Breaking the bank
With travel costs up across the board, from airline tickets to lodging and even car rental, you will need to have a travel budget at hand to make sure you don’t spend all of your savings on a single trip.
Once you know where you want to go, you can set up a budget that includes transportation, accommodation, car rental, and food, among others. Additionally, you will need to budget for activities and excursions as well, such as entry to parks and museums.
Luckily for retirees, there are plenty of senior travel package deals and promotions available year-round. More so, if you have a travel rewards card, you can make use of the senior citizen benefits, or look for deals that are specifically tailored to your age group.
8. Not properly making use of technology
Nowadays it’s possible to book an entire trip in one single click. What’s even more impressive is the fact that you can plan, book, and pay for a holiday using one simple mobile application.
Digital tools and technology have brought the world closer to us, and with it, it’s also made it a lot easier for us to travel more conveniently.
Before you leave, read up about the latest travel apps you can use while abroad, or ask a younger family member to assist you with the app. Additionally, you can play around with the app a bit, to make sure you are comfortable enough to use it without the assistance of others.
Technology has done incredible things for us, and not properly utilizing it will result in costly and inconvenient mistakes.
9. Assuming things are still like they used to be
Often we have a certain level of expectation before we embark on an exotic holiday. And while things may have been a certain way back when you were younger, it’s unlikely that things are still the same today.
There is a lot that can change through the years, and you will be able to notice it within your retirement community as well. When you travel abroad, it’s best to manage your expectations, do a bit of reading, or ask around in your circles 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 consider that through the years things may have changed a bit, regardless of the current state of affairs.
10. Not doing it sooner
A lot of mature adults will often leave traveling until retirement, simply because they will have more time and money to do so once they leave the workforce. More so, single retirees will often not travel solo because they feel restricted by their health, or not having someone to do it with.
Although these may be valid reasons to travel later, rather than sooner, it’s best to start planning and ensure you get to experience as much as you possibly can.
Retirement allows you more freedom and flexibility to travel as frequently as you want, and for as long as you please. This is the best time to enjoy the luxuries of life and make the most of your golden years.
The bottom line
Traveling solo has its perks, but it does come with some considerations at the same time. For retirees who are willing to plunge into solo travel, making sure they are up to date with all the latest insights and trends in terms of traveling will help them plan a memorable 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 will be exploring the area once you’re there. Additionally, you want to make sure you have accommodation sorted before you leave and that you have communicated with friends and family back home about your travel plans.
If you make time to properly plan, your holiday will be more relaxing, and enjoyable, while you indulge in the simple pleasures life has to offer you at the age of retirement.