Going on vacation can boost mental health, increase physical activity, create social connections, and provide relaxation and fun. Whether you’re traveling to see loved ones or heading off to your dream destination, a vacation also offers a perfect opportunity to see and do new things.
Planning as far in advance of your departure as possible is a good idea. Follow these senior travel tips to prepare for your adventure, stay safe, and reduce stress.
Pick a Meaningful Destination
You deserve a chance to kick back, relax, and have a good time in your golden years. Cost is a factor for any vacation. But if you’ve always wanted to go to Yosemite National Park or the Eiffel Tower, go for it (if your finances allow). Wherever you decide, go somewhere that sparks joy.
If you have physical limitations, ask any accessibility-related travel questions before booking a trip. For instance, can you take a power scooter on a plane? Is a ground-floor-accessible hotel room available? Do tourist spots have accessible entrances, seating, and restrooms?
Researching and getting these answers in advance is better than facing unforeseen accessibility issues during your trip. Websites like Accessible Travel Solutions offer accessible travel suggestions.
Book an Aisle Seat on Your Flight
When you book a flight, choose an aisle seat. Aisle seats give you more room to stretch and easier access to the restroom. For smoother travel, book a direct flight. Ask for mobility assistance if you need help getting to and from the gate, airport restroom, or to your connecting flight.
More flying tips include:
- Get to the airport early to allow extra time for security checks, checking luggage, mobility pre-boards, and using the restroom.
- To stay hydrated, drink water instead of alcohol.
- Always carry your medication in a carry-on bag. That way, if your checked bags get lost, you won’t miss a dose or need to replace medication.
- Print your travel documents and itinerary and share them with people you are visiting so they know when to expect you.
- Wear compression socks during long flights. The tightly-fitting stockings “gently squeeze your legs in a way that helps promote blood flow from the legs back toward the heart,” according to the Mayo Clinic. This helps prevent ulcers and blood clots.
Pack Lightly and Ask for Help with Your Bags
Pack lightly. Overpacking leads to a heavy suitcase. If you have physical restrictions, ask airport, train, or bus personnel for help with your bags if you need it.
Photo: Alessandro Biascioli via 123RF
Make a Packing Checklist and Follow It
Make a packing checklist and check off essential items as you add them to your luggage. Packing your medication is a top priority. Be sure to bring all your medicine with you. Getting a prescription filled out of town might be tricky. Also, bring reading glasses, hearing aid batteries, and other essential medical or mobility aids.
Wear Comfortable Shoes and Clothes, Use Sunscreen, and Sanitizer
Sightseeing often requires a lot of walking or moving about. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes to protect yourself from blisters and general discomfort. Also, use a high SPF sunscreen to prevent harmful UV ray exposure outdoors and use hand sanitizer frequently to stave off germs.
Notify Banks You’re Traveling and Watch Valuables
Call your credit card companies and banks to advise them you are traveling. This prevents them from suspecting fraud and declining out-of-town charges. Also, keep valuables at home or lock them in a hotel safe. Carry credit cards and cash tight to your body in a fanny pack or money belt.
Don’t Post Your Trip on Social Media
It’s fun to share trip photos on social media. But don’t do it until you get back home. You don’t want to alert people that your house is empty and lure break-ins.
Ask for Senior Discounts
Saving money is always nice. Some airlines, tour companies, hotels, museums, and restaurants offer senior discounts. Always ask before booking a flight, hotel room, or tour excursion. Also, ask local museums, theaters, and restaurants if they offer special senior rates.
Travel Off Season
If you’re on a budget, traveling in the off-season is another way to save money. Plus, it helps you avoid large tourist crowds, long lines, and excessive heat. For instance, if you’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii and are looking for off-season travel opportunities, rates are lower, and the islands are less crowded in spring (mid-April to early June) and fall (September to mid-December), according to Frommers.
Above all, don’t overdo it. Pace yourself and schedule downtime. The last thing you want is to injure yourself or wear yourself out on vacation. Also, discuss activity restrictions with your doctor ahead of travel.
Following these senior travel tips will help you have a safe and enjoyable vacation.
The Active Aging Series is brought to you by our partner, Cambrian Homecare. Cambrian Homecare has been assisting individuals to stay independent in their homes for 27 years. Flexible experience you can trust, when the best place is still at home.