Travelling in Retirement: Safety Issues
If you thought retired people only went on cruise ships or organised coach tours, then think again. A growing band of confident retirees are donning backpacks and boots and jetting off to exotic climes for a real taste of adventure.
Early retirement or having children who have flown the nest has spawned an army of 'grown up gapers', three quarters of them women, who are rolling back the years to sample vibrant new cultures or simply to 'find themselves'.
But before getting carried away by the travel bug, travellers should take heed of a few simple safety tips to help make their big trip go smoothly and safely.
Read UpRead up about the destinations you are going to. Buy some decent and up-to-date travel guides and plan your journey. Check that the country you are visiting is politically stable and not hostile towards Western visitors. It may be worth finding out about local laws and customs too and how they relate to dress codes and the use of alcohol and drugs.
Try to learn the local language or at least some basic expressions. Don't think you can get by on English in somewhere like Latin America. You'll find the experience more enriching and you'll endear yourself more to local people if you can communicate with them. Not only that, it could be invaluable if you are lost or have misplaced money or possessions.
CommunicateMake sure you are contactable to loved ones back home. Check with your mobile phone provider about how you can access your phone in the region you are visiting and the costs. However, you may find this an unnecessary expense and another attractive item for pickpockets and thieves. Alternatively, suss out a local internet cafe where you can email to let people know your itinerary and whereabouts.
Get a Health CheckGive yourself an honest appraisal of your general health and fitness as your trip could involve a lot of walking. It's recommended you visit your GP at least six weeks before travelling overseas and do find out if you need any special jabs.
Heaven forbid that you should fall ill or have an accident while you are away but do seek out proper travel insurance. Check the small print of your policy with a fine toothcomb in case any exclusions apply. Don't forget to declare any previous illnesses you have suffered from. If you are not properly covered and fell ill on America's east coast, for example, you could be handed a whopping £35,000 bill for an air ambulance!
It's worth bearing in mind too that most of the rest of the world, including North and South America and Europe drive on the right so be alert when crossing the roads.
Finally, make copies of your passport, insurance policy, emergency telephone numbers, and ticket details and leave these, along with your itinerary and contact details, with family and friends. Take enough money for your trip and get some back-up funds such as traveller's cheques which can be replaced if stolen.