8 Tips for The Traveling Senior
For me personally, there is no better feeling than exploring a new city or country. I can confidently say that my travel experiences thus far have shaped me into the woman I am today, and I am always look for my next new adventure! On my "travel to-do list" is an Alaskan cruise with my Mother someday; it has always been her dream to experience the wonders of the Alaskan wilderness from the comfort of a cruise ship! I know that when we decide to go on this exciting expedition though, there will be some important steps to take first.
Due to her age, the steps I'll take when preparing to take a trip with my Mom will look a bit different than say, how I prepare for a trip with my boyfriend. While there are a few more obstacles in our way as we age, traveling can still be a fun and fulfilling part of our lives. Yet as we get older, a few more considerations are added to our to-do lists as we get ready for a trip. Here are a few that will ensure that you have a fun and safe adventure wherever you may go:
1. Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Make Reservations and Know the Area Before You Go!
So that everything is easier when you get there, you should plan your trips well in advance. Use the internet or call the hotels you want to stay at ahead of time to make reservations. Look up restaurants you wish to eat at and make reservations ahead of time, same with guided tours, guided sightseeing and car rentals/transportation arrangements. If you are going to a new place, study a map beforehand so you can know a little about the lay of the land before you arrive. Note safe and unsafe areas too! If you need to stop frequently and you know you will be out and about, find out where there is a café or a safe park bench that you can rest for a few minutes before getting on your feet. And if you smoke (suggesting, lovingly, that you try to use this time to quit), be aware of where designated smoking areas are before you go. That way, it is easier to schedule and you can relax and enjoy your trip ahead of time!
2. Traveler’s Insurance is a Good Idea!
You can never be to safe when going somewhere you've never been before! Look into getting traveller’s insurance. As you age, the probability of having an accident goes up and you want to be as prepared as possible. Also, look into protections that your insurance offers, especially if you are crossing state lines or going out of the country. Does your insurance cover you if you get sick or hurt out of state? What sort of protections does the country you are visiting offer? Other countries may have universal coverage and offer medical care at a much cheaper rate than the US, but they may have restrictions on what services are free or cheap for nonresidents or noncitizens. Know before you go so you can be prepared!
3. Keep Your Important Documents Ready
As with doctors’ appointments, make sure you have your driver’s license, your passport if you are traveling out of the country, prescription records (in case you need a refill in the event you run out, or your meds are lost or stolen), and boarding pass (if you are flying) ready to go by the night before. You can check in to your flight the night before through your airline, saving you time. I also suggest making copies of your license, passport and medical insurance card to keep in any checked luggage you may have in case it gets misplaced; this also comes in handy if you happen to lose one of the original documents during your trip!
4. Get the Mobility Assistance You Need!
It is crucial to make sure that the places you are visiting are accessible before you go, especially if you need mobility assistance! If you are flying and need mobility assistance, make sure you reserve it while purchasing your ticket. Also be mindful that different airports handle mobility assistance differently. Some have a wheelchair assistant right there when you check in. Others aren’t so prompt and you may have to get a friend or family member to get a gate pass and help you to your flight. Also, while hotels in the US must accommodate wheelchairs, the rest of the world may not be as accommodating. Make sure that where you are going otherwise, such as restaurants or guided tours, are accessible for you before you book them and if they are: check to see if you need to bring your own wheelchair or other walking assistance, or if they have them for you.
5. Pack Lightly and Remember Feet Safety
Pack what you need and only what you need! Be mindful of the weather, but also remember to pack the proper footwear to keep you up and moving throughout your stay. Pack weather-appropriate shoes that provide good arch support and will keep your feet comfortable throughout your vacation. Also, keep a list of what you are bringing. Include documents, clothes, and toiletries that you decided to bring along so you don’t forget anything on your way there or back.
6. Leave Valuables at Home or Safe
Common Sense traveling for all ages: there’s a bunch of shady characters all over the world and they love taking advantage of tourists. Leave as many valuables at home as you can, and again, keep photocopies of your passport and ID in your bag and your hotel room and if you can help it, do NOT keep your money or valuables you need to take with you in a purse or wallet, especially if the latter is in your back pocket! Keep everything in front of you – we suggest getting a fanny pack that fits under your clothes and/or a wallet that goes around your neck and under your shirt!
7. Keep Your Family in the Loop – But Don’t Advertise You Are Going Out
Make arrangements with family and friends to pet sit or house sit if you need them to. Make sure you have a ride to and from the airport if you need one also. However, be careful about sharing that you’re gone, especially on social media. As with the point above, there are people out there who are looking to take advantage of you, and an empty house can be a burglar’s dream come true. If you post on social media, get familiar with privacy settings and be sure that only trusted people know you are away.
8. Be Mindful of Meds and Meals While Traveling
Finally, to ensure your vacation is a good one, take all medications that you need to take and stick to your regimen. You may need to adjust it in the event that you are going into a different time zone; talk to your doctor before traveling about how to work around this and ensure you do not miss a dose. And also be aware of your limits around food – if your stomach doesn’t agree with spicy, heavy or cheesy food like it used to, keep it to a minimum. While your taste buds may be watering, your stomach (and the rest of your trip) will thank you later!
The World Is Your Oyster
Wherever you decide to take your next vacation, always remember to stay present and enjoy the moment! You're never too old to experience something new, in my opinion. Here are some photos from my latest adventures. I hope you enjoy and I encourage you to share your favorite travel experiences in the comments section!