Travel Safety Tips For Seniors

Julie Little  |  April 20, 2016
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As a senior, retirement living opens so many doors to joyful experiences you didn't have the chance to take full advantage of as a working adult.

It gives you ample opportunity for relaxing, exploring new interests and old hobbies and going on vacations you've been wanting to experience your entire life. After all, traveling and going on new adventures is one of the greatest ways to show off all of the hard work you did over the years.

While retirement poses the greatest opportunity for going on vacation, this stage of your life could make it more difficult to travel than it once was. Due to physical limitations you might experience with age and the vulnerability you may pose to potential thieves, traveling could turn into a dangerous incident if you don't take the right safety precautions.

To protect yourself and your belongings as you travel during retirement, consider these safety tips:

Invest in travel insurance
While Independent Traveler suggested that everyone should get travel insurance - regardless of age - it is especially important for seniors to invest in it, due to higher risk of falling, getting sick or needing additional medication because of delayed travel. Liz Dahl, co-founder of Boomer Travel Report told the source that getting travel insurance - which usually only costs between $100-$200 - is a great way to give you peace of mind while you're on vacation without draining your bank account.

"Nothing is worse than to be in a foreign land and find yourself in a situation where you have fallen or run out of medication and not knowing what to do or if you'll be covered," she said.

Enroll in STEP
To maximize your safety while traveling, the U.S. Department of State and Bureau of Consular Affairs suggested enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. STEP is a free service that allows U.S. citizens who are traveling abroad to register their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This program gathers your personal information - and stores it securely - and contacts you, your family and friends in case of an emergency. Enrolling in STEP is a great way to ensure you have a place to go if a natural disaster, civil unrest or family emergency occurs.

Beware of scams
Unfortunately, if you find a travel deal online that seems too good to be true, chances are it probably is. Scammers work online and over the phone and email to offer fake deals to travelers they find most vulnerable. If you feel as though you've been a victim of a vacation scam, consider filing a complaint with the IC3 - the Internet Crime Complaint Center associated with the FBI - to better your chances of receiving your money back. Also, if the scam occurred on the internet, notify the website's administrator. This can help reduce the chance of scams occurring over this website in the future.

Keep a low profile while gallivanting
Once you've settled into your hotel room and are ready to go out and explore, Independent Traveler recommended being cautious as you leave and not to "advertise your absence." Consider hanging the "Do not disturb" sign while you're gone to keep potential thieves away. If you hang a sign that lets the housekeeper know your room needs cleaned, that notifies everyone that you're away and could potentially be seen as an open invitation to your room by the wrong person. If your room needs cleaned, consider calling the front desk to let them know you'd like someone to come in while you're gone.

Leave the expensive items at home
Besides traveling, one of the many great ways to showcase your past success is by purchasing nice accessories to wear. But unfortunately, wearing expensive items like nice jewelry and watches could make you an obvious target for thieves. Carrying nice cameras and wads of cash could do the same, according to the information Steve Hanson, senior editor of Senior Travel Expert shared with Independent Traveler.

"Seniors are more likely to carry cash around ... and more likely to have expensive jewelry and watches than younger travelers," he said.

Keep the expensive arm candy at home, secure your money in a wallet or money belt and only reach for it in a safe setting.