You might think that baby boomers with cash to splash would be wooed across the travel industry.
Yet fiddly rules and hidden charges can make heading off on your holidays in later years exceedingly tricky — and expensive.
It shouldn’t have to be that way, of course. So here’s how to avoid the common pitfalls.
Fiddly rules and hidden charges can make heading off on your holidays in later years exceedingly tricky — and expensive
With travel insurance there is no upper age limit, but prices of policies can be steep, especially for those with existing medical conditions, which must be declared. It is best usually to go with trusted brands.
The Post Office (postoffice.co.uk) has an ‘Economy’ policy covering 17 days in Europe — excluding Turkey, Spain and Cyprus — from £41.15 if you are aged 70 without existing medical conditions. This covers medical expenses of £2 million, cancellation or curtailment of a trip up to £1,000 and baggage loss up to £1,000. The excess is £125.
Saga has a week-long policy in France for a 70-year-old without medical conditions from £47.68 (saga.co.uk). This would have an excess of £70, £10 million in medical cover, £10,000 in cancellation/curtailment protection and £5,000 in baggage cover.
Multi-trip policies are best for those who travel a lot. Saga offers multi-trip annual cover in Europe from £126.96 for a 70-year-old without medical conditions. This is for individual trips of up to 45 days.
GOLDEN RULE: Check the excess before booking — and if you are travelling in Europe, make sure you have an up-to-date Global Health Insurance Card for state healthcare at a reduced/free cost (gov.uk/global-health-insurance-card).
DREADED SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS
Solo travellers hoping to avoid single supplements should opt for packages such as Jules Verne’s nine-day guided tour across Sudan, which stops off at the pyramids at Meroe (pictured)
Many older travellers may be going solo, and this is where the travel industry has long been negligent, demanding costly single supplements. And yet specialist travel companies have sprung up offering supplement-free trips: solosholidays.co.uk, onetraveller.co.uk, justyou.co.uk and friendshiptravel.com.
Mainstream tour operators are also getting in on the act, with Ionian & Aegean Island Holidays, Jules Verne, Mercury Holidays and Cox & Kings among companies offering similar holidays.
A seven-night stay at Hotel Meganisi on the Greek island of Meganisi is from £658 B&B departing on May 1 with Gatwick flights (ionianislandholidays.com). Meanwhile, a week at the plush Elegance Hotel near Marmaris in Turkey is from £584 all-inclusive on June 13 with Manchester flights (mercuryholidays.co.uk).
Jules Verne has a nine-day guided tour across Sudan to see the sights of Khartoum and the pyramids at Meroe from £2,995 with flights from Manchester or Birmingham on October 13 (vjv.com). And Cox & Kings offers an 11-day tour of Peru with a visit to Machu Picchu from £2,595 with flights (coxandkings.co.uk).
GOLDEN RULE: Call companies to ask what supplement-free packages they offer.
For those with mobility issues, airports can be hell. It is the responsibility of airlines to arrange assistance. If you have booked a flight directly from an airline, you will need to contact it to make a request — or, if you have booked through a tour operator or travel agent, call them.
British Airways promises to offer an escort to and from the aircraft, help with stairs and transport via wheelchairs and mobility aids (provided by the airport). See the ‘What assistance is available?’ page of ba.com.
GOLDEN RULE: Always make a request at least 48 hours before flying.
Book your airport parking space well in advance to avoid any unnecessary stress
Before even getting to check-in there is the question of where (and how) to park your car if you are driving to the airport. Here, Daily Mail readers have an advantage: 20 per cent off the ‘Meet and Greet’ service offered by Maple Parking. Just put in the ‘promo code’: dailymail20 (mapleparking.co.uk).
GOLDEN RULE: Book well in advance.
It may seem obvious that airlines will arrange seats close to entry/exit doors for those with mobility issues, but you need to be proactive to make it happen. With online bookings the norm, it is tricky to ‘make your case’ as everything is so anonymous. However, a phone call to the airline (if you get through!) could help and you might even find yourself in a row near the front with extra leg space.
GOLDEN RULE: Call as soon as you have booked to request a better seat.
CONFUSING CAR HIRE
Many car rental companies have slapped age limits on bookings — usually set at 70 or 75. These can vary according to location, with big providers such as Hertz, Avis and SIXT even having different age rules in different countries.
A study of the upper age allowances conducted by Rentalcars.com found that Thrifty’s maximum age limit for Australia was 79, while this was 75 in Denmark and Ireland. Meanwhile, Budget varied from a top age of 90 in the Netherlands to a low of 70 in Japan. In America, however, rental car companies are normally more flexible, often with no limits.
GOLDEN RULE: Always check the small print and shop around online.
It is probably best now to renew your passport a year before its expiry date to avoid any complications
Rules on passports have become more complicated since Britain left the European Union, as your passport is only valid within ten years of the issue date. So, if you applied early for a renewal and the expiry date is beyond ten years of the issue date, you will be denied boarding on planes.
On top of this it must also be ‘valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting’. See the ‘Travel documents for non-EU nationals’ page of Europa.eu.
GOLDEN RULE: It is probably best now to renew your passport a year before its expiry date to avoid any complications.
GO WITH THE FLOW
Yes, the obstacles to travel during your ‘golden years’ may seem more trouble than they are worth. Yet doctors say that travel can improve your health and wellbeing; see ‘The Health Benefit of Travelling’ at leehealth.org.
GOLDEN RULE: Don’t let the years ticking by blunt your wanderlust . . . the world is your oyster, whatever your age.