One thing that really annoys people when they reach retirement age is that they start being told they are too old to do certain things.
Travel is one of them. In fact, the 50s to 60s age group is one of the growth demographics for long distance and long term travel, as people in early retirement take advantage of their new-found freedom to explore further afield than they’ve been able to before.
But what about when you reach your 70s or 80s? Is there a cut-off point where a three-month trek around South America starts to not look like such a good idea? What are the signs that you can no longer manage a 12-hour flight like you once could?
The reality is, there are no hard and fast answers to these questions – they will be different for every individual. But here are some of the things you should consider in making up your own mind.
People tend to assume that old age and frailty automatically go hand in hand, which is where all the ‘you’re too old to do that’ attitudes come from. This is, of course, not true, and plenty of people remain fit and strong well into their 70s and 80s. But health has to be your priority. If you have any concerns at all about coping with travel, talk them through with your doctor.
Your personal safety while travelling can depend on everything from the risk of trips and falls because you are not as steady on your feet as you once were to the risk of being robbed – it is a sad fact that street criminals will sometimes target older people.
These are not in themselves good enough reasons not to travel, but should be taken into account when planning. If you have any mobility issues, alert your airline and accommodation operator so assistance can be arranged. Avoid destinations and areas where there is a heightened risk of crime against tourists. A good plan is to stick to organised tours and excursions.
Travel insurance is an absolute must for travellers of any age, giving you financial protection not only against things like lost, stolen or damaged property, but crucially also insuring you against any medical costs that might arise through accident or injury.
For older travellers, the unavoidable truth is that travel insurance costs more the older you get – and can reach a point where it makes an entire trip unaffordable.
A specialist provider for older travellers, explained: “Older travellers make more claims than their younger counterparts, which is why travel insurance companies are allowed to charge more based on age. It is all about the risk involved in providing the policy.
“Unfortunately, most travel insurance companies do this in quite a crude way, they simply add a premium that increases year-on-year by age. If you also happen to have a medical condition that needs additional cover, you can end up being quoted more than your trip cost just for travel insurance.
“This doesn’t take account of the individual circumstances of every traveller, and punishes those who are fit, healthy and perfectly able to travel. Some providers offer bespoke policies for holiday insurance, for those 80 and over. Offering affordable cover no matter how old you are, and creating policies that meet your individual needs.”