By: Bill Hull, Consultant of Marketing
Today’s seniors are on the go like never before. A typical year at Atherton finds our residents and their families traveling over a million miles all over the world. Virtuoso Lifereports that seniors spend more on travel than any other generation: an average of $11,077 a year. Summer is a great time for domestic travel, and it’s a big, big business. According to the US Travel Answer Sheet, direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. averages $2.8 billion a day, $118.2 million an hour, $2.0 million a minute, and $32,800 a second. Yes! We are on the go and so is our money. When we look back upon a trip filled with family fun, new adventures, or exciting discoveries, we all feel like the money was well spent.
But problems arise when all these folks are doing all this travel at the same time. Because of the crowds, it can be nearly impossible to enjoy a visit to the places that are usually listed on everyone’s bucket lists because, well, they are listed by everyone! No one wants to spend their time, money and energy on a trip only to be disappointed because the congestion, mobs, and lines took away from the experience. Below are listed some practical travel tips seniors can do to manage the pace, density, and expense of travel in a way that will preserve the great memories they want to make for themselves and their families. These are organized around the word SUCCESS. Implementing these ideas can help you make the most of your miles.
It makes sense that if you avoid the peak tourist seasons, you avoid the crowds. Spring Break, Holidays, and Summer are when families are on the move, and nearly every destination in the world has a good, better, and best time to visit. Picking a holiday destination when everyone else is going means extra energy to deal with more tourists and longer waits for everything. Revising your plans by a few weeks can greatly reduce the congestion; and it will probably cost less. Weekends are always busier at popular sites and attractions. You will have shorter lines, fewer people, and a better overall experience during the week. If you need a certain day for some particular event, theme park, or experience, be sure to purchase your tickets as far in advance as possible. If this is impossible, do the next best thing and show up early. The crowd should be thinner first thing in the morning or at meal times. Book your lodging away from the busiest action. Even if you have to travel a little further, it is nice to get away to somewhere quiet when it’s time to sleep.
U-se your Senior Status:
Just like there are senior discounts for many popular attractions and travel adventures, there is a growing sensitivity for seniors to travel in comfort and safety. Cruises, trains, tours, and hotels are all improving their game to capture more of this important target market. Check out “accessible lifestyle vacations” and “special accommodations for seniors” when visiting websites of the places you want to visit. If you call ahead, you may find that seniors have a special entrance, ticketing process, or earlier opening time.
C-hat with the Locals:
Even if you are traveling to a totally new destination, there is no excuse to be unaware of the local insights. With a little digging, the internet will connect you to all you need to make the most of your navigating, exploring and experiences. Yelp.com is just the beginning. Travel sites, hotel sites, and excursion sites all have links to online reviews. Have a chat with your Uber driver, concierge in your hotel, tour guide, or food server to get their take on the best places and times. Often you can save money and hassles too.
C-ruise around the cruises:
Remember what happens when your cruise ship pulls into the harbor? Thousands of people are suddenly added to the tourist equation. That quaint little street of shops and eateries is suddenly overrun by a mass of humanity. If you are looking to avoid the crowds, find out when these cruisers are due to land by asking your hotel’s concierge, or the staff in local shops.
E-at against the Tide:
Most of the time, like you, all the other travelers are looking for a great eating experience, and most of them are hungry at the same time. Avoid the rush by altering your meal times. Eat a bit earlier or later, especially if you have your heart set on a well-known eatery. Of course, you want to plan and reserve well in advance whenever you can.
S-pend to be Special:
If you are willing to pay for it, you can almost always avoid the crowds. Specialty tourist, vacation, and excursion outlets exist in nearly every corner of the globe. These organizations can get you a private tour or behind-the-scenes experience with V.I.P. treatment. Be prepared to pay to be pampered.
S-cour for Hidden Treasure:
Everyone who visits New York visits the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park. You simply cannot avoid the crowds and it will be worth the hassle. But there are thousands of interesting attractions and experiences that people tend to ignore. This is true almost everywhere. Find your adventure “off the beaten path” and you may have the best experience of your life. For ideas, google “things locals do in (write in the city or destination of your choice)” or just use the keywords “off the beaten path” with the place of your choice.
There is nothing better than a trip that surpasses expectations. Perhaps the secret to such travel success lies in heeding the words of Robert Frost to take “the road less travelled”. It may make all the difference.