By Vicky Anscombe on 10 October 2014

We're only going to say this the once, so listen up - age doesn't matter. Well, unless you're a cheese or a wine, and we're going to take a wild guess and assume that you're neither of those.

People are retiring earlier, saving harder and travelling further than ever before. 'Grey gappers' (older backpackers) are on the rise, and older people are no longer content just to shuffle off to their rocking chairs once they hit the big 6-0.

If you've just booked the trip of a lifetime and you're wondering what the world has in store for the older traveller, here's our guide to staying comfortable, safe, and coming home with plenty of wild stories.

Work with the weather: One of the benefits of being retired is that you can travel whenever you want. If you're heading to Europe, aim for April through to mid-June, or September and October. That way you'll avoid the heat and the crowds.

Take it easy on the plane: Stay hydrated, and walk around every hour or so to keep your blood moving and lessen the chance of a blood clot. Plane food is horrendous at the best of times, so bring your own snacks, and don't forget an extra jumper, a pillow, and a blanket. Cabin crew often have a soft spot for older travellers, so don't worry about making the odd request. The chances are they'll be happy to help you out.

Get insured: Make sure that you are covered properly before leaving; getting travel insurance that caters for your exact needs is an essential. If you are travelling in Europe, be sure to update your EHIC. Obviously, we recommend that you book your travel insurance with us!

Travel light - and smart: Pack fewer items, and just wash what you've got more frequently. Don't forget that shoes will weigh you down, and only pack the footwear you know that you're going to need. If you've got a connecting flight, always check your bag in; dragging it around the airport will tire you out.

Note down the details: Never forget to take extra pairs of glasses or contacts, and a magnifying glass to help you read maps and any small print that you may come across. If you're worried that you'll forget your hotel or nearest station, take a notebook, and write everything down. You'll then be able to travel with a clear head.

Do your homework: If you struggle with stairs or hills, do your research. Is your hotel in a hilly part of town? Is there a lift? If you're worried, ask for a ground floor room. It's worth thinking about your location; if you're close to the station, that's great when you arrive and leave, but you may have a longer trek into the centre of town. Always budget for taxis - you never know when you'll suddenly get tired.

Sort out your medication: Don't assume that you'll be able to find your medication abroad. Before you leave, visit your doctor and explain where you're going and for how long. You can then take everything you need with you, and make sure that you leave it in its original packaging, so healthcare professionals can see what you're taking if you become unwell.

Get involved: Never let your age stop you from doing something you'd like to do. Seen a festival you'd like to go to or a concert that's up your street? Stop worrying, sort of your taxi there and back, and book your tickets. Just because you're a little bit older and wiser than everyone else doesn't mean that you should miss out! If you're planning on having a late night, make sure that you've got some rest and relaxation lined up for the day after so you can recharge your batteries.

Donna L. Hull is the author of New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure and publisher of the online site, My Itchy Travel Feet, She has heaps of experience of being an older traveller; here's what she has to say:

"Travelling is one of the most empowering experiences that I know. Although there may be a few more challenges as an older traveler, as long as I plan ahead, stay calm and bring my sense of adventure, I can go anywhere and do almost anything.

"If you’re just starting out as an older traveller, I recommend planning an easy trip that fits within your comfort zone. Once you have a trip or two under your belt, stretch your boundaries, whether that means traveling further, using a different mode of transportation, exploring another culture or trying a new-to-you activity.

"Traveling keeps me young. I’m sure it will do the same for you."


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