Is there a set cut off point when people become too old to travel? No, of course not. Age is just a number, and while it is certainly true that our prospects of backpacking around the world might gradually decline as we get older, there is nothing to say people can’t travel until there is a genuine medical reason not to.
Still, if you are planning a trip with an elderly relative, you may still have some justifiable concerns. You might have heard that it will be impossible to get travel insurance for them, or even if you do, you could end up having to pay close to the cost of their air fare. If your loved one is infirm or has specific medical needs, you might be worried about transportation and looking after their health while you are away.
All of these are legitimate things to take into consideration. But they are far from insurmountable challenges and with a bit of planning should pose no serious problems. Here are some top tips to help you along.
There are no two ways about it, older travellers get a rough deal on travel insurance. If providers don’t flat out refuse to sell cover to people over a certain age, many slap on eye-watering premiums for the privilege. In the UK, for example, research has shown that average costs of a worldwide annual policy roughly double between the ages of 65 and 75, and then double again between 75 and 85.
This is despite the fact that the number of claims made by travellers in their late 70s and 80s actually starts to fall. In other words, the price hikes bear no relation to any increased risk of making a claim, which is how providers justify them.
The best way to dodge all of this difficulty when looking for travel insurance for an elderly relative is to go through a specialist provider. For example, even though many companies will not offer travel insurance for over 80s at all, there are niche operatives filling the gap in the market. Moreover, they do so at a fair price, avoiding the excessive automatic surcharges of general providers.
If you are worried about how well your relative will manage with long queues and long walks at the airport, plus getting on and off an aeroplane, contact your airline in plenty of time. They will be happy to liaise with the airports to arrange whatever assistance is required and will most likely offer priority check-in and boarding. This is a particularly good idea if you are on a long-haul journey with a transfer along the way.
Again, if you are travelling with an elderly relative who is not as mobile as they once were, it is good advice to plan ahead for your destination as well as for your journey. Unless you plan to be staying more or less in one place for the duration of your trip, such as a particular holiday resort, you might find hiring a car beneficial. This will give you the freedom to go where you want without having to negotiate crowded bus and train stations, and will often prove cheaper than taxis or hired drivers if you want to explore over a relatively large area.
Finally, if your relative has any medical conditions that will need managing while you are away, it is highly advisable to get them to see their doctor. As well as giving them a check up to make sure they are up to the journey, they will be able to offer advice on medication, on how to cope with long journeys, on useful resources at your destination and so on. You will also need to get a prescription for all meds needed for the duration of the journey to take with you.