Important Air Travel Tips for Baby Boomers and Seniors

Mature Travelers Often Experience Difficulties that Do Not Affect Younger Travelers

Many people look forward to retirement with anticipation, thinking of all the exotic places they will be able to visit once they stop working. However, travel as a senior can often present difficulties that do not affect younger travelers. Read through these tips for helpful advice before you book your flight.

(c) Copyright Kathy Steinemann

• Special discounts are sometimes offered for seniors. Shop around for the best rates.

• If you have a condition like irritable bowel syndrome or incontinence, try to reserve a seat near the bathroom.

• An aisle seat will make it easier to take bathroom breaks without disturbing other passengers.

• Avoid flights with multiple connections. If you book a non-stop flight, you will not have to contend with extra delays or the inconvenience of trying to catch a connecting flight on time.

• Do you have special dietary requirements? Be sure to let the airline know well in advance if you will be on a flight that serves meals.

• Nervous flyers can make the experience less intimidating by brewing a cup of chamomile tea during the flight. Pack a few teabags in your carry-on and ask a flight attendant for some hot water. Steep one or two teabags for five minutes and sip while you wind down and relax.

• Are you taking gifts to the grandchildren? If they are in your carry-on, do not wrap them. Security personnel might want to inspect your belongings. Wrapped gifts should go in checked luggage.

• Try to plan your arrival for daylight hours. It will be easier to get around in a strange city without trying to read dimly-lit street signs or worrying about what might be lurking in dark corners.

• Leave a detailed itinerary with friends and/or family. If plans change for any reason, be sure to inform them immediately.

• Travel insurance policies are not all created equal. Read the fine print to be sure that you will have adequate protection. Many policies have an age clause. Purchase extra insurance if you need it. Overseas treatment and evacuation can be very expensive.

• If you will be traveling alone and are physically able, consider taking a seniors' self-defense class before you leave.

• Always discuss travel with your physician before you make any plans. You might be unaware of flying risks associated with a medical condition.

• When you visit your doctor, ask for a printed or written copy of all required prescriptions as well as a letter outlining your medical conditions and treatment. You should pack this in your carry-on along with all your medications.

• If you wear glasses, try to take an extra pair with you, as well as a wallet-sized optometric prescription card.

• Hearing aids can actually be an advantage aboard an aircraft! You can turn them down to minimize noise from the aircraft and nearby passengers.

• Bathrooms are busiest just after meals and movies and just before landing. Try to avoid these times if you don't want to be rushed.

• Do not reveal too much to strangers about your travel plans. Scan artists who prey on seniors are very amicable and convincing people.

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