One of the most rewarding times of senior adulthood is being able to travel. Whether you prefer traveling alone, but as part of a group, or with a companion, being free from the earlier stresses of younger years allows you to absorb both the sights and the good times to their fullest. Another freedom is that you can do your roaming in months that avoid crowds; the best being April, May, September, and October. But, do your research early as you plan your excursions while keeping these tips in mind.
When purchasing luggage, get the very best quality; you will be glad you did! Make sure you choose bags that roll, and if you need to pack another, smaller bag, see that it fits easily and securely atop the larger rolling one. Include items you can hand wash that dry in a few hours or at least overnight. From a serviceman, I learned to roll my clothes as I packed them…takes up much less space. If you do not already wear glasses, consider picking up a pair of magnifying glasses for reading maps, schedules, and other small print. You might want to have handy a small notebook and pen for taking note of certain facts and reminders. And if you have a cell phone, become familiar with all its capabilities for both domestic and foreign travel. You might also want to take your medical alert device; ask about how those work when you are away from home.
2.Medications, Health, Insurance
Be sure to have ample supply of all medications; in some countries it may be difficult to get the same ones. Do allow time to check on your insurance coverage prior to your departure, particularly if you are on Medicare/Medicaid. And, you should definitely invest in travel insurance, different from medical insurance. If you are flying, make sure of two particularly important reminders: stay well hydrated (water) and be sure you are sitting where you can get up and walk around frequently; if this means budgeting for first class then do so. In addition, be aware of jet lag and always allow for one day for getting acclimated on arriving at your destination; upon your return, allow for a few days more.
At airports and train stations since September 2001, strict security measures are in place. Track the latest information at www.tsa.gov going to “Travel and Consumers.” Prepare for the seemingly tedious ordeal by being as helpful as possible; things will go much smoother.
The best advice here and in the next topic: do not try to be a “hero.” If you need to avoid stairs, request a first floor room, and any other needs you might have. By booking early, you can make these things known. When contemplating getting around, lodging near the center of the action is preferable to near the airport; cabs are always available for trips to the airport or train station. Interestingly enough, it is not always the most expensive and luxurious hotels that provide the best accommodations; you might even try hostels and bed and breakfasts. These latter two give opportunities for exposure to more local culture…usually, if you are pleasant and truly want to learn about your country of choice…or state…your proprietor(s) are usually glad to welcome conversation and offer help finding “hidden treasures” in their towns.
You are looking forward to discovering all the things you saw in the travel brochures, heard about on the travel shows, and searched for on the Internet, and you still want to have energy to enjoy everything. Therefore remember to treat your body to consideration for its limitations. For example, locate benches and elevators…even freight elevators…in museums. If stairs are a no-no, opt out of the double decker busses for touring, and instead choose an English speaking cabbie (if you’re traveling abroad) for an amazing tour with a “personal touch.” Touring boats are another interesting choice for sightseeing. After a full day of activity and seeing the sights, couple that with a full day of rest to recharge your internal batteries. For that you might go to a nearby coffee shop, sidewalk café, or bistro for a favorite beverage and do a little people-watching. Other folks might have the same idea, and you just might make a friend for an evening show or play. And, whatever you do, go with tip money; no matter the little extra expense, you will have much more comfortable and pleasantly memorable excursions.
These are just five tips for smart senior travelers; there are probably more. When you are contemplating your venture, planning it is half the fun, so enjoy that part as well. To borrow part of a quote from Charles Dickens, “These are the best of times….” Enjoy making as many memories in your later years as you did in your childhood, take lots of pictures, and on your day of rest, journal in a notebook.
Kathryn Thompson is a travel agent and prolific writer. She enjoys blogging about vacation destinations and recently wrote some great travel tips for seniors.