Now’s the time to see it all

  • MaryEllen Lessard, an AAA leisure agent, has advice for older adults looking to have an adventure across the globe. Courtesy

  • Corrine Saari of Rindge, second from the left, made the short jaunt from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Kittery, Maine, with sisters-in-law Margaret Fast, Helen Evans and Eileen Haavisto of New Ipswich in September. Courtesy photos—

  • Rindge snowbirds Corrine and Thomas Saari during a visit to South Carolina to see their daughter.  Courtesy photos—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/22/2019 1:39:23 PM

The kids are moved out, working life is done, and now it’s time to get down to that bucket list – there are sights to see, exotic locales to visit and time to become a world traveler.

Mary Ellen Lessard, a Leisure Agent with AAA Northern New England, offers these tips to travelers looking to get out into the world in their retirement.

Match trip with ability

If you have mobility issues, or just aren’t able to handle a trip that includes miles of walking, there are still plenty of options to travel.

Motorcoach tours or river cruises, which might include stops that involve walking, but mainly transport you from location to location, might be a better fit.

“We always gather information from their customers and ask them questions about their ability, to make sure a trip is going to be right for them,” Lessard said.

If you’re looking at a tour package, ask questions about the amount of physical activity that will be involved, and accommodations that might be made.

Take advantage of services

Even if you don’t require a wheelchair, consider calling ahead to your airline to request wheelchair service, particularly if you think you’re going to have issues navigating a foreign airport. Airline employees can assist you from gate to gate.

“Wheelchair assistance is free, so why not take advantage of it?” Lessard said.

Keep in mind, some airlines forbid tipping assistants and some don’t. Ask your airline about tipping when you call ahead to request the gate service.

Also, consider whether or not to take out travel insurance, which will reimburse trip costs if you become ill or injured right before or during your trip and cannot continue.

Pick your timing

If you are retired and the kids are grown and on their own, you are not bound by work or school schedules, so choose your timing to avoid the worst of the tourist crowds and hiked prices. July is Italy’s peak tourist season and during Spring Break college students flock to the Caribbean, for example, Lessard said. Airlines and hotels take advantage of the increased demand to increase their prices.

“If you want to save some money, avoid those holiday times,” Lessard said.

School holidays and long weekends are always going to be more expensive times to travel. If you can plan around them, do, and save yourself the crowded streets and depleted wallet.

Plan ahead

We’re in the age of convenience, but there are some things that still require significant lead time – travel is one of them.

If you’re going on an excursion trip, often the companies will expect payment well ahead of the trip itself. A significant amount, because planned tours and cruises often book up as far as a year in advance.

Even if you’re planning a trip without a tour group that will require you to fly, it’s best to book your flight and accommodations three to six months in advance.

Do some checking into how you will be getting around during your travels. Some countries have age restrictions on car rentals or require an international driver’s license.

Common sense precautions

When you’re away from home, in an unfamiliar place where you might not even share a common language, it’s best to take sensible steps to keep yourself safe.

Make sure you have backups in place. Exchange emergency contact numbers with someone back home, and leave a copy of your passport with a trusted family member. If you’re in a foreign country, you can register online with the local embassy.

Make use of your in-room safe or hotel safe for valuables, and carry your wallet in your front pocket, not back, and carry purses around your neck instead of just your shoulder.

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