Travel as we age can pose a whole new set of issues ranging from finances to our health to how far away is the destination. But, it certainly doesn’t mean that armed with a little knowledge, we still can’t have amazing adventures.
For some, nothing actually will change much at all, but those are the lucky few. For the rest of us, some adjustments in how we travel, to varying degrees, will be required. Being prepared for any or most situations that may arise is really the best we can do and will certainly give us some piece of mind.
This doesn’t mean we can’t experience it all, we just have to tweak how we do it. The one aspect I’m double thinking is traveling alone. While I’ve always been comfortable with solo traveling, as I’m getting older, I do feel a bit more vulnerable than a few years back. But, as long as I’m able, I’m not going to let aging put a crimp on my choice of vacation destinations. Aging and travel can mix well together; it just may take a little more forethought and planning.
HOW TO TRAVEL AS WE AGE
- Do your research for the best deals or better yet, work with a travel agent that can get you good deals and/or items like free breakfasts, resort credits, etc.
- If finances are an issue, make a budget and stick to a budget.
- Set priorities as to where you want to spend your dollars. Is dining at a nice restaurant important to you or do you prefer having a suite at a hotel or do you want to take a private tour?
- Again, if finances are an issue, decide if you prefer quantity over quality. Would you prefer to take one amazing cruise to Antarctica or 5 trips to a more local destination?
- Carry a list of all emergency phone numbers you may need, including bank/credit card company numbers. You can also put them in your contact list on your phone. Just make sure they’re handy at all times.
- Make copies of your driver’s license, passport, and insurance cards and carry one set in your handbag/briefcase and one in carry-on luggage. DO NOT store in checked baggage. Or, leave a copy with someone you can trust at home or scan and email to yourself and store in a cloud server.
- Make sure your carry-on contains all the things you can’t be without. For instance, don’t pack your medications in a suitcase.
- Carry only essentials with you and only carry the bare minimum of credit cards you will use.
- Always bring a spare pair of glasses/contacts if you wear.
- Pack as lightly as you can. You may be forced to lift your luggage and/or walk with it for long distances.
- Be very aware of your purse/wallet. Women should wear cross body bags or dare I say, fanny packs, which men can wear too. Don’t make it easy to be pick pocketed.
- Travel confidently. Don’t look lost or like you don’t know what you’re doing.
- Travel in business/first or get an aisle seat if blood clots could be an issue. Also, know what to do to prevent clots.
- Try and fly non-stop if possible. Having to get on and off multiple planes and walking through multiple airports is not ideal for anyone.
- Request special services you will need well ahead of time, such as wheelchairs and diet.
- Consider that it might be best to use a travel agent/credit card travel department, so if something goes wrong you have a contact to deal with the issue, especially for flight cancellations.
- If traveling to a foreign country where language is an issue, make sure you are prepared with a few sayings to get you by in an emergency and/or download a translation app like Speak & Translate.
- Carry a travel health kit and include OTC meds you could need for things like colds, flu, diarrhea, and make sure you bring a first aid kit that has antibiotic ointment. You can easily buy inexpensive prepackaged kits.
- Make sure you have extra prescription medications to cover you for any travel delays. A week’s worth is not unreasonable.
- Carry a list of any medical issues you have and medications you take on your person at all times and/or wear a medical alert bracelet.
- Make sure you have additional medical travel insurance that covers above your policy, but more importantly, covers evacuation in case of a major tragedy. Medex is one such company.
- Know your own strength and what you’re capable of, including how strenuous of activities you will be able to handle.
- Book flights that are optimum for you and how you’ll feel. Do not book redeyes if you will have jet lag for days – fly during the day.
- Know where healthcare facililites are available should any medical issue arise.
- Consider your itinerary and try and plan for some downtime; don’t fill every second with activities.
- Get to know the reception staff/concierge and let them know any specific needs you have, including medical issues.
- If you have a special diet, either make sure that where you are staying can accommodate or if worst comes to worst, be prepared to bring your own food.
- Along the same lines, consider if becoming a frequent guest at a hotel is the way to go. The staff gets to know you and you know them and the area. That added comfort can go a long way to destressing the vacation and making it more enjoyable.
- Think about spending some of your travel dollars on a private tour. These are really not that expensive and can be arranged by a travel agent. You will learn so much about where you are visiting and get to go many places you wouldn’t otherwise know about doing it on your own.
- Take a gentle yoga class for stretching if offered.
- If you have concerns about traveling alone, consider a package tour of some sort or a cruise.
- Check for any senior discounts that may be available.
What tips do you have for traveling as we age?
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