For many Americans, retirement provides the opportunity to travel and the luxury of time to enjoy it.
After decades of working, seniors relish the idea of hitting the road in their RVs or taking to the skies or oceans for a well-deserved vacation, or vacations.
To help seniors have a more organized, safe and cost-efficient trip, here are some suggestions.
Communicate: If you're going on an extended trip, consider leaving a detailed itinerary with a family member or trusted friend.
In the industry jargon this type of customized itinerary is called an "FIT."
This itinerary should include all pertinent information relating to your trip such as the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the people and places where you will visit, flight information and airline ticket numbers, cruise itinerary and ports of call, including dates when you will be in each port.
If traveling overseas, we highly suggest you also include your passport number, date and place it was issued, and credit card and traveler's check information.
Dose of advice: Medications are generally an important item of consideration for seniors on extended vacations.
Before traveling, be sure to pack your medications properly. Refill prescriptions before leaving and keep phone numbers for doctors and pharmacies close at hand.
Also, consider packing a note from your doctor explaining why the medication is needed.
And now more than ever, especially with the added security regulations and to avoid any confrontation with Transportation Security Administration agents, be sure to pack medications in carry-on baggage and always in their original bottles.
Prepaid phone cards: Prepaid phone cards are the easiest, simplest and cheapest way to make calls when traveling.
At some hotels, a phone call can cost upwards of $2 just to get a connection
Phone cards from the major service providers as a rule, have low rates per minute and can be used throughout the United States and internationally.
About one third of Americans traveling on vacation use prepaid phone cards as their primary means of communicating.
These cards extend an extra level of convenience and safety to the senior travel experience.
Take preventative measures: Always consider using the resources of a travel professional to assist you in identifying the best and safest vacation travel option.
Even if you choose to plan a vacation on your own, carefully research the country or countries you plan to visit and determine if you should be immunized against any endemic diseases, or if you need a vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, typhoid or hepatitis A.
Your travel professional should be able to assist you with general information on required vaccinations or preventive measures that you may have to take or want to consider, so ask for this information as a part of your travel planning discussions.
Also, consult your personal doctor who may offer an extra measure of medical safety.
Finally, the Web site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/travel/, is a great resource.
Passports, visas: Another important factor is obtaining a passport, which will save you many headaches no matter the destination.
By the end of this year, all Americans traveling abroad by air or ship will be required to carry a passport. The only exceptions will be Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In that same vein, make sure your travel consultant checks into the visa requirements to enter that country. For example, Brazil, India, China and Russia are a few of the countries where it is a must for Americans to enter the country with a special visa stamped in their passport.
Photo protection: What is a great vacation without great photos?
If you are flying and returning home with exposed film of your adventures, pack it in your carry-on luggage, never check it. The baggage X-ray machines may overexpose those precious shots. The X-ray machines for carry-on luggage are considered safe, but you can always ask for hand inspection.
Armed with these bits of information, today's active seniors will enhance their travel experience wherever they may choose to visit.
Bon voyage and until your actual trip, have happy travel dreams.
Geraldine Blanchard is vice president of Global Tours and Travel, at 559 W. Eau Gallie Blvd., Melbourne. She can be reached at (321) 676-6040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information visit www.globaltours.com.