Traveling is a great way to do something different, explore new cultures, get some much-needed relaxation, and make memories with friends that last a lifetime. For us Nifty Fifties, planning the perfect trip can be exciting while embracing unique adventures. Here are a few tips on how you can get started:
What inspires you? Are you an art lover and have always wanted to go to Europe, or are you more of a fun and sun group that wants to relax on the tranquil beaches of the Caribbean? Feeling really adventurous? How about going on an exotic trip to Asia or the Mediterranean? Once you’ve figure that out, start browsing websites, looking through magazines, and reading a few blogs to get some ideas. Have a vision board party with your group and create personal boards with images and information about different destinations. This can keep you motivated while planning and helps solidify a trip (or two).
Think about Your Travel Style
It’s important to think about all the parties in your group. Do you need a structured itinerary or does everyone fly by the seat of their pants? If you’re a spontaneous bunch, find group tours that match exactly what you need. You may want to ditch the tour and discover things on your own. The key is in knowing enough about the place to stay safe. Consider having a healthy balance of relaxation and activities that match your pace and the time you have for the trip.
Remember Health and Comfort
Exercise over 50 is a must, so you want to have some form of exercise going on before your trip to get ready for long periods of walking and sightseeing. Do your research on transportation and other accommodations. Make sure the attractions you choose have provisions for any mobility needs.
Don’t Break the Budget
Yes, you need a budget. When getting started, make a list of all the possible expenses that may arise, including flights, hotels, meals, tours, activities, souvenirs, and emergency funds. You should also know whether you have to exchange currency and at what rate, and if you make purchases out of the country, any additional rates you may be charged.
This is also the time to research your credit cards. Do you need to advise them you’ll be using your cards in another country? What about your bank? You may be able to find significant discounts for seniors on transportation and attractions. Using a travel agency or comparing prices on different sites can help in finding the best deals.
Your research should give you enough information to understand the climate and culture for your trip. Choose outfits that can be layered to cut down on excessive baggage. If you have medications to take, keep them in your carry-on. The last thing you want is to have something important in luggage that gets lost. You should also bring toiletries you love because they may not be in the area you choose to visit. Also keep a lightweight rain jacket, a hat for protection from the sun, and comfortable shoes.
Depending on where you’re going, you may be charged an additional fee for using your cell phone, or you may need a new SIM card. One way around this is to use WhatsApp or Skype to make calls and message your loved ones. Make sure they know your itinerary at all times.
You should also carry a list of emergency contacts, including the numbers for the embassy and consulate in the country you plan to visit. Don’t wait until you get out of the country to learn how to use these apps. Make sure you also know how to use a navigation app, currency conversion, and language transition app.
Always have digital copies of your passport, travel insurance, and itinerary. Having a backup charger for your phone is also a necessity.
Do your research. Let’s go over that one more time. Do your research. Know the customs and laws of the destination. Know where you can and cannot go. If you’re going on an extended trip, register with the embassy so they can contact you if something happens. Be vigilant and watch EVERYTHING. Watch your belongings, especially in crowded places. This is when a money belt or crossbody bag can be your best friend.
Engage with the locals. There are many places that offer cooking classes, workshops, and walking tours. This is the best way to immerse yourself and learn about local customs and etiquette. When visiting other countries, showing respect for their ways of life is important. If an event is canceled or you can’t get to a venue, always have a back-up plan.
Make time to Relax
It’s easy to want to do everything, but trips are made to go with the flow. Don’t over-schedule. Leave room to do something unplanned or just lounge by the pool. The entire goal of a girls’ trip is to spend time with each other. Those special moments sitting on the balcony in another country may be just what you need.