The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we travel. This is especially true for senior travelers. They, more than any other traveler, might be wondering how to stay safe while still being able to travel. Here are some tips for seniors and their loved ones for staying safe while traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consider Buying Travel Insurance with Covid Coverage
No matter where you choose to go and how you choose to travel, travel insurance is essential in a pandemic-stricken world. And it will be just as essential when we transition to post-pandemic. A lot of travel insurances plans have COVID-19 benefits. We also have plans that now cover for COVID-19 testing and treatment under certain circumstances. Always be sure to read plan details carefully before buying travel insurance.
But COVID-19 coverage is not the only reason to get travel insurance. As we age, we’re more susceptible to illness and injury. If you’re traveling abroad, where your domestic healthcare or Medicare won’t cover you, you’ll want travel medical insurance that can offer financial protections and ensure that you get the medical attention you need if you end up needing care. Here’s more information for senior travelers looking for travel insurance. Fully-vaccinated seniors should consider travel medical insurance too.
Trip insurance, on the other hand, can offer you a different set of protections. It can help you recoup certain non-refundable expenses like airfare or hotel costs if you need to cancel your trip. One of the elderly traveler’s best defense against COVID-19 is an add-on benefit to trip insurance called Cancel For Any reason insurance.
Your standard trip insurance will cover cancellations for a limited number of reasons like an natural disaster or an airline outage. If you have to cancel for these reasons, you’ll be reimbursed for certain prepaid trip costs. But if you have to cancel for a reason not explicitly stated in the policy documents, you’ll likely not be reimbursed.
However, if you add Cancel For Any Reason insurance to your trip insurance, just like it promises, you can cancel your trip for literally any reason and still recoup prepaid travel costs. The reason this benefit is so critical for elderly travelers in the midst of a pandemic is simply because it gives you the flexibility needed to keep you safe. If there’s a COVID-19 spike in your destination country and you no longer feel comfortable traveling there, you can cancel your trip plans without any financial risk.
The first and best thing you can do when traveling is limit your potential exposure to the virus. This can be done in a variety of ways. Here are some of our top suggestions.
- Wear a face mask when in public, particularly in crowded areas and during airplane travel. Check out our list of supplies you want to be sure to pack before traveling in a post-COVID-19 world.
- Social distancing, or staying six feet (two meters) or more away from all those outside of your household, is also helpful. Unfortunately, this is not always possible when traveling. When getting on a plane or entering a crowded area, comply with all safety directions and try to keep as much distance as possible between yourself and those around you.
- Be aware of the places you touch. If a lot of people may have touched the same place, it’s referred to as a “high-touch” area. Some of these high-touch areas include railings, countertops, pin pads and armrests. If you touch one of these areas, be sure to wash or sanitize your hands before you touch your eyes, nose or mouth. If you or your loved ones have difficulty walking, you may come in contact with more of these high-touch areas than you realize. Supporting yourself against a wall or railing may give the virus an opportunity to infect you. If you have stability issues, consider traveling with a walker or cane, even if you do not usually use one. This will help you navigate through public spaces like airports with less risk, as you will be less dependent on touching foreign surfaces.
- Get in the habit of washing your hands often. Washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent the virus from spreading. Washing your hands before you eat, before you leave the house and immediately after you return to your house or hotel room, is a great way to keep yourself safe from all sorts of illnesses, including COVID-19.
Plan for Activities in Safe Areas
Wherever you are planning to travel, you’ll likely want to engage in activities. Whether you’re going to visit family far away, returning home after quarantine, or flying to an exciting vacation spot, you probably want to socialize and have fun. While social distancing, you can still have a lot of fun. Many restaurants, museums and other gathering places are beginning to reopen with new guidelines for keeping space between guests.
Spend More Time Outdoors
Outdoor activities are a great way to have fun and reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, as studies have shown that people are less likely to contract COVID-19 while outside. Picnics in local parks or open areas are a great way to see friends and loved ones and share a meal without getting too close to each other. Head outside for walking tours (if you are physically able), outdoor exercise classes or just sit outside with a good book.
Consider Renting a Car
You may also consider renting a car at your destination to explore the area from the comfort and safety of a private vehicle. Take a road trip with the people in your group or household to explore the natural and architectural beauties of your chosen destination. From the safety of a vehicle, you can enjoy yourself without the risk of infection in public transportation. This option also helps those in your party who may have decreased mobility or trouble walking long distances. And bonus: Travel insurance plans often offer car rental insurance.
There’s no reason for senior travelers to stay home if the country they want to visit is open and taking Covid safety precautions. But, just like any other traveler, you’ll want to know the risks, plan for the unexpected and reduce your chance of illness, injury or medical debt.