Posted on Jul 11, 2014
For many seniors, having the chance to travel can be a wonderful adventure that puts a new spark in relationships, interests and sense of purpose. Of course there may be some additional considerations when planning a trip, but there's no reason that age should prohibit a senior citizen from enjoying the world around them.
Finding a new place to experience doesn't mean you have to fly or drive for hours. Even a short day trip or night or two away from home can be fun as well. Here are some tips for seniors and/or their families who to consider when looking at travel options.
If you're considering a longer trip or going overseas, you may want to talk to a travel agent. There are many special packages tailor made for senior citizens. It is also much more fun to travel in group. Regardless of your age, it's always good to check out medical facilities if you're traveling to another country. Whether traveling internationally or domestically, talk to your doctor before you travel to discuss your plans, potential diet and activities. If you need special accommodations, ask your tour operator or hotels about wheelchairs, guide dogs or any special requirement like portable oxygen concentrators if required on the flight or any time on the trip.
Travel insurance is a great idea especially when traveling overseas. Find out exactly whether and how your medical insurance works overseas. (Medicare is not valid outside the US except in very limited circumstances; check your supplemental insurance coverage for exclusions.) Pre-existing conditions are a problem, especially if you are over 70, but some plans will waive those exclusions. When considering additional travel insurance, pay close attention to evacuation insurance, which covers the substantial expense of getting you to adequate medical care in case of an emergency — especially if you are too ill to fly commercially.
Pack according to the climate to where you'll be traveling. Even if traveling to a tropical country, there is no harm packing an extra jacket as climate can change. Also, make sure to take enough medicines to last your entire trip. Plan for any unforeseen emergency such as loss of luggage or damage to medicines. Have an emergency supply with you packed or carried separately. Don't forget to carry your medical prescriptions explaining the purpose of carrying large amounts of medication and in case.
Get a suitcase with wheels! Lugging around a heavy suitcase is not exercise, it's torture on your back!
Don't forget about eyeglasses and hearing aids! If you wear glasses bring an extra pair, and bring along a magnifying glass if it'll help you read detailed maps and small-print schedules. If you wear hearing aids, be sure to bring spare batteries (it can be difficult to find a specific size overseas).
A small notebook that you keep with you at all times is handy for jotting down facts and reminders, such as your hotel-room numbers, contact info and emergency info. If you are going overseas, the notebook is a great spot to carry your country’s embassy phone number and any other emergency numbers. You may also want to ask your travel operator or Embassy for a list of doctors in the area of your visit.
If stairs are a problem, request a room on the ground-floor. Find out if your place of lodging is near transportation or areas that you plan on visiting. No matter where you stay, ask about your accommodation's accessibility quirks before you book — find out whether it's at the top of a steep hill, has an elevator or stairs to upper floors, and so on.
Traveling Within Your Destination
Subways can be a pain with luggage, so look at taxis when you are carrying luggage or shopping bags. If you didn't drive to your location yourself, you may want to rent a car. However, make sure you discuss your age when renting as some car rental companies have upper age limits.
Many places have special discounts or general free days for the public. Always ask about any discounts, even if they are not posted. Even some airlines and railways may offer special senior discounts.
In many cities, there are special sightseeing buses or boats that can show you the sites and limit the need for lots of walking that can tire anyone. Ask your hotel, travel agent or look online to see what your destination may offer before traveling.
Travel should be a part of everyone's plans. Whether you need a passport or just a tank of gas, getting out and experiencing the world around us is key to keeping our lives interesting and meaningful. Make a plan and hit the road!