Travel tips for boomers and seniors


Boomers, retirees and older Americans often seek out different travel and vacation destinations as well as different ways of getting there.

There are times when you want your grandchildren with you, of course, but there are also times when you’d like to relax and have some quiet time alone with your spouse. Whether you’re traveling to a place you’ve never been or back to a resort or community you love, your needs and desires may be very different from those of your children or grandchildren. They may also be different from the last time you visited.

Before traveling I suggest you prepare a check list of those things that are most important for your comfort, well being and enjoyment and compare your projected travel plans against this list.

There are all kinds of travel and vacation discounts available to older Americans. Who is considered “older” varies substantially but usually works if you are 50-plus.

According to CheapAir.com the best time to buy a ticket for non-holiday domestic travel is 49 days before departure and 81 days for international travel. FareCompare.com suggests you shop for airfare on Tuesdays since most domestic sales launch late Monday and these fares are quickly matched by other airlines.

The most popular dozen travel destinations in 2012 according to Gogobot were:

1. Paris 2. Las Vegas 3. San Francisco 4. Barcelona 5. San Diego 6. Bangkok 7. Rome 8. New York City 9. Venice 10. Marrakesh 11. Chicago 12. Nice

There are many sites that will help you book, evaluate and calculate fares and accommodations. Information on weather and travel risks in other parts of the world is available at RetiredBrains.com.

Before traveling, available health care,senior friendly facilities and planned activities should be given careful consideration. You should also carefully look at the ease and time of traveling to and from your destination. The perfect destination that requires several plane changes or different modes of transportation is often not appropriate. What works for a healthy, active 40 year old may no longer work as well for you when you are older.

Shopping overseas

Boomers and retirees are particularly interested in value. There are many countries where the dollar goes further and there are many types of purchases where Americans can save when they shop while traveling. Check MarketWatch’s Currency Converter to see the exchange rate between the country you plan to visit against the U.S. dollar.

As far as places to shop within countries you visit consider shopping in flea markets, especially in pricier countries like England and France. There are many open air markets in Europe like: Portobello Market and Fulham Road in London, The Puece St. Ouen “flea market” in Paris, Waterlooplein in Amsterdam, El Rastro in Madrid. When you shop in these markets you must negotiate to get the best price and be aware that much of what you may be buying is likely to be an imitation or counterfeit.

I once asked a legitimate stalls dealer on Fulham Road how old the silver wine coaster was that I was about to purchase at such a reasonable price and after careful thought he said: “Oh about three weeks.” Be aware that if you are directed to certain stalls or shops by a guide or hotel employee they are quite likely to be getting some sort of commission on whatever you purchase.

Many destinations also have bazaars where deals can be made. Negotiating is just as important in a bazaar as at a flea market. The bazaars in Istanbul and Marrakesh are of particular note.

Remember that purchases can also be subject to confiscation by customs when you return to the U.S. This is particularly true of most ivory items.

Do not purchase food overseas without first checking to see if the food item is permitted in the U.S. Most entry areas into the states have dogs to smell and check for items that are forbidden and they can smell out illegal goods even if they are packed in your luggage.

Check U.S. customs rules before departure to see the items and total value you may return with duty free from the country you are visiting. Family members living in the same household can combine their personal exemptions.