Travel is one of the top activities of older Americans. In fact, retirees spend an average of $11,077 a year on travel, more than any other group, according to Virtuoso. The 75- to 79-year-old age group travels more than any other, and 70- to 74-year-olds are second.
However, older adults have specific concerns that other demographics do not share. Older people are more likely to take medication. Some may have disabilities that affect their ability to participate in activities. However, most seniors need a little more than anyone else.
Travel Technology for Seniors (and Everyone Else)
No matter where you go, your cell phone always seems to run out of juice. Now, battery packs that fit in your pocket can recharge it almost instantly and, in some cases, multiple times. They’re useful when you have limited access to electricity. If you’re environmentally minded, try a solar charger.
Airlines are getting more and more stringent about luggage, and there’s nothing more embarrassing than having to pull things out of your bag because it’s overweight. The digital luggage scale ensures it will never happen again.
You can now buy a wheeled hard-shell suitcase that’s billed as a “personal travel assistant”. It will weigh itself and has a port to charge your devices. You can track its location and even lock and unlock it using your smartphone. One example is the Bluesmart, but there are many others.
In many places, you can’t get service. The plug-in GoTenna transmits messages via radio waves so it acts like a walkie talkie. It’s great for picking someone up at the airport or for communicating with others in your travel party.
Waterproof device cases are available for your cell phone...or you can get the EcoXProof case, which will hold everything from your iPad to your smartphone and acts as a speaker, too.
Some hotels are now placing tablets in hotels that act as “virtual tour guides.” Call ahead to ask.
If you’ve ever lost a bag, you’ll jump at the chance to get a luggage tracker...unless you don’t like paying a subscription fee. On the positive side, the tracker has a GSM chip inside, and when it’s within 30 feet of you, the Trakdot alerts your phone.
Multifunction is the way to go when you’re traveling. Buckshot Pro is a portable speaker, flashlight, and battery for your smartphone.
An RFID wallet prevents people from trying to scan your credit cards, and a RFID passport sleeve will prevent them from doing the same to your passport. You can also use aluminum foil. It will work equally as well.
If you have sleep apnea, traveling with your cumbersome CPAP machine is annoying at best. Travel CPAP machines, such as the HDM Z1, can fit into the palm of your hand. They’re pricey, but they may well be worth the space if you’re traveling by air.
If you love to cruise, consider a Carnival cruise with Ocean Compass, scheduled to debut in November 2017. It functions as a key and payment device, much like Disney’s MagicBand, that interacts with sensors throughout the ship. For example, you could order a drink anywhere on the ship, because the device would tell the waiter where to find you. You also could order food or a drink to be delivered at a specified time.
Travel Apps for Seniors (and Everyone Else)
There’s nothing worse than getting sick or injured when traveling. If you’re unable to give medical first responders your medical history and medications, relax: Technology has it covered. If you’re using an iPhone, just input the information into the Health app that’s already on the phone. Google Play has a free app for Android called Medical ID that you can download and fill out.
The only thing worse than getting sick or injured when traveling is if your companion becomes hurt or sick. Download the Red Cross First Aid app to ensure you can help.
Find My Friends, available for iPhone and Android, is a free app that uses contacts and email addresses to find them by GPS. It’s great for large gatherings or if you decide to split up and meet later.
LookTel Money Reader verbally informs people with low vision a bill’s denomination via your smartphone. It works with 21 currencies. Unfortunately, it’s only available for iOS.
Packpoint makes a list of suggestions to pack, based on the location and weather. It’s free for iOS and Android.
If you’re traveling to a country with a different currency, download XE Currency to plan your budget and ensure you’re not getting cheated.
Google Trips can pull reservations from your email, add hotel bookings and car rentals, and even suggest side trips. TripAdvisor lets you judge from reviews which are the best places to visit during your trip.
Google Translate helps you speak the language, no matter where you are.
If you’re planning on traveling abroad, sign up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. You’ll receive alerts if there’s unrest, plus they can contact you easier.
Travel in Place in the Future
Virtual reality (VR), as promised, is extending into the world of travel, providing people with the opportunity of seeing the world while staying at home. Unfortunately, it’s still not widely available, but it’s coming! Experience some examples here.
Right now, adults 74 years and older make up the majority of travelers. Older adults prefer to use travel agents and go on cruises.
However, as you’ve heard time and time again, the Baby Boomers are coming. This generation uses technology much more than other older Americans, with 84% purchasing travel online and 72% researching travel through online travel agents.
Because Boomers demand it, more and more travel technology will become available in the very near future.