In this post I’m talking about travel, specifically how to travel as you get older and are in the empty nester stage of life.
As I seem to have that wanderlust gene, and have been fortunate to do quite a bit of traveling over the years it’s simply something that I feel I’m pretty good at explaining! How many of you ladies are the travel managers of your own family? It seems to be a role that I’ve always had and my husband is pretty chill about whatever I arrange for us.
Many have never had that opportunity to travel frequently when just starting out living on their own, with a growing family, job opportunities or other obligations. Vacations for young families are tough to coordinate and to afford and perhaps were just once a year. Those trips might have been geared more to our children, such as a trip to Disneyworld or a local hop to a beach spot for a weekend.
As we age our priorities start to change and we have not only the need to explore, but the time. We may find that we are curious as to what we might have missed out on and to experience different cultures. As we have more life experience perhaps trying things not yet attempted help us not to get eternally stuck in a certain comfort zone. I think that we tend to not worry so much what others may think because we are very comfortable in our own skin. It is a great time in life to explore and make the most of life.
So you might wonder how to plan or decide where to travel. I think if we gather some tips from many travelers and apply the items to what fits our personal style best it will be a successful trip every time. Ask…talk to your friends, to those who have had those trips that perhaps might interest you. Word of mouth is a great way to find about about travel!
Deciding when and where to travel is based on many items. Are you still working and need to schedule time off? What season is best for you based on other obligations? What climate are you looking for to either escape or travel to? Most people love a warm climate, but how warm is too warm? What are your basic reasons for traveling to a certain destination?
In traveling as you get older and have less family obligations, have your expectations changed? Are you in good enough physical condition to travel as you might like to be or have any limitations? I have a list below of how my travel has become more thought out and organized as I travel and hope it will make your travels a positive experience.I am not quite as spontaneous but love every moment of everyday.
Where To Travel
My advice is to answer the basic questions above based on your preference or reasons for travel Then start narrowing it down as to where you can find that climate or dream location. It is so easy nowadays to Google the average temperature for a certain month any place in the world. After you have it narrowed down, many travel TV shows for certain cities are available to watch on Netflix or Youtube for added information. Travel Weather Average can provide basic climate guide.
When to Travel
Try to avoid holiday travel, as it is so much more expensive and the crowds can be draining. We travel when school is in session since off season means less crowds as well. My husband and I are not touristy type people, so avoiding the crowds is a much better experience for us. If traveling far by air a night flight means that we can relax and get some sleep and that works well for us.
Booking a Flight
The best time to book a flight is on a Tuesday after 3:00 pm 6 weeks out before travel. It is the least expensive and can all be completed online. We all love getting a great deal so compare budget seats to first class. I find I can fly budget for short periods of time to then spend that extra money on my destination. Long flights, consider an upgrade for comfort. As we age we have to decide what is going to provide the most comfort. Moving around on a long flight and comfort is going to be important. Our expectations and need for comfort as we mature is often just different.
Travel By Train
We have found that traveling by train can be delightful. The scenery whizzing by can be beautiful and we have traveled across Europe by train several times. See more about a train trip that we took in Europe in THIS POST. Try something different…you might find that you love it!
Have transportation arranged for when you arrive unless you only require a quick taxi. You may be tired from your travels so getting quickly to your destination is important. If at all possible arrange transportation to be there waiting for you. Know how far you have to go in order to reach your hotel or Airbnb. Long lines for a rental car are not easy after a trip and require a lot of patience. A quick hint is some hotels will provide a shuttle and some hosts for Airbnb will pick you up.
Hotel vs Airbnb
When booking a place to stay, weigh all your options. What is it that you want to have available to you? If you want room service and a concierge, then stay in a hotel. If you want more space and freedom to cook, an Airbnb can be amazing. For those that may have never booked an Airbnb and are leery, it’s is a wonderful app that allows you to view the places to stay and has renters reviews. It is easy, affordable and you have access to a whole house or apartment. You can have a meal at home and utilize the local foods and if you have special dietary needs it’s fabulous! Tours can be booked from the Airbnb or a hotel for your convenience.
When you aren’t in your twenties or thirties any more, pacing your trip is important. It is the quality of your trip and no longer the quantity. Be sure to schedule in regular meals, breaks, fluids and bathroom breaks. As you age you may have some limitation on what you can accomplish in a day, and that’s fine! Do your research and make each day count as to what is important to you. It is never worth it to exhaust yourself in order to see more. Choose quality over quantity and take breaks when you need to because that’s really okay!
Pack light and plan on washing items while traveling. Carrying or paying for many suitcases is not necessary while traveling. If you plan your activities ahead of time you will be able to plan your clothing accordingly. Know your climate and agenda so you can pack accordingly. Then the carry on will accommodate the extras. Pack comfortable and versatile shoes. This doesn’t translate to not having a cute pair of heels but be realistic. I almost always go with an easy wardrobe of all black and white and a couple of scarves for color.
Please make sure you have all required documentation to travel. A passport is by far the most accepted all over the world. It is easy to research if any other documentation is required by your travel destination. The passport should be checked for expiration date before leaving. Make a copy of your passport and your credit cards and keep it separate from in your purse…just in case!
It is a great idea to have your budget figured out before you travel. Then decide on the several different places you will keep your money to be safe. I advise a money belt for cash on hand rather than a purse. Plan ahead if traveling out of the country to do a small exchange at the airport or arrival destination. Always have current currency with you. Then precheck if it is easy to exchange US dollars at a bank or exchange station. It has happened that travelers have been stranded in smaller towns with no ability to exchange their money. It also is important to be aware that in some countries, credit cards and debit cards are not accepted everywhere, so always have cash. A stash of emergency cash is a good idea for anything unexpected.
Transportation is important to plan for before leaving home. It is easy to review the modes of transportation before leaving home. Look for information on local buses, tours, rentals, taxis and Uber. Uber is not legal in some states and countries so check before you try to utilize it. It makes life so much more relaxing if you know how you are will be navigating your daily transportation.
Booking a tour can be a great way to explore your vacation destination. It is important to personally decide how many hours you feel you can tour in one day. A private tour might be better so you have input on stops and breaks. The fact that most private tours will pick you up for the day makes it most desirable to some travelers. It is a plus that you can have a one on one conversation as the tour progresses and these are easy to set up and find.
Drinking the local water if traveling out of the US is not a good idea. It is advisable to only drink bottled water. Anywhere you may stay it is easy to purchase bottled water for drinking and cooking. The difference in the water bacteria and iron and magnesium levels is just too much to take a chance with.
If you are going to a much warmer climate it does affect those who aren’t acclimated to the heat. Plan for early morning adventures, an afternoon of relaxation or swimming and an evening of fun. Make sure you have air conditioning for the night to sleep well.
An option…we don’t usually take. I do recommend that if you are planning on renting a car overseas, you take out the extra insurance that that they sell upon rental. We did this in France on a trip a couple of years ago and had a tire blowout, and if we hadn’t taken the insurance it would have cost us hundreds of euros. Thank goodness someone told me about this beforehand!
We reviewed money safety and keeping documents safe. Finally personal safety is a must. It is important be aware of your surroundings and to know the areas that you choose to stay and venture into. It is easy to check on this with the concierge or host of where you are staying.Feel free to ask questions about personal safety.
If traveling to a different country be prepared if there will be a language barrier. Most places have a person that speaks some english but it is not a requirement. So your phone can translate for you, a small book of translations may help or learning some of the language before you travel is helpful.
We have always had a love of travel and passed this love on to our now adult kiddos. Traveling to new locations can truly be life altering and such a positive addition to the quality of your everyday experiences! It is just a matter of being a little more prepared, doing a little more research and being in tune with your own personal likes and dislikes. So get out there…and I would love to hear about your adventures and experiences!!
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