Tips for the Senior Traveler

Jim traveled with his wife to attend their grandson’s graduation.

It is that time of the year again when the holidays are popping up and travel may be around the corner. Whether by car, train, plane, ship, or even bus in some cases, travel is challenging today and there are pitfalls for which seniors should be aware. There are “must-do’s”, and the less demanding “to do’s” before and during any trip. Let’s go through the list below so that you are ready for that trip to see friends, relatives, or just to see another part of the country or the world. You should also check with your travel agent for his or her advice on customs, do’s and do not’s, and what to take while going to your foreign destination(s).

  • For any extended time away, put your mail on hold with the Post Office.
  • Arrange for automatic bill paying through your bank.
  • Cancel newspaper delivery.
  • If you have a pet, arrange for boarding.
  • Arrange for plants to be watered or take into a cooler area – this may or may not limit damage to the plants.
  • Set light timers in at least one or two rooms.
  • Advise your neighbors that you will be gone and arrange for them to watch the house, and to remove and pick up any papers or boxes that might be left while you are gone.
  • Provide contact numbers and a copy of your itinerary to neighbors and family members so you can be reached in case of an emergency.
  • If you have a neighborhood watch or a homes association, advise them of the time you will be away.
  • If you are going out of the country, make sure your Passport is not only up-to-date but that there is at least 6-months remaining as of the end of your trip, before it expires. Passport processing can take 4-6 weeks so you may need to expedite your passport renewal.
  • Prepare a list of your prescriptions; strength and dosing regimens. Also, keep a list of your physicians (telephone numbers and specialties), and insurance information with you as you travel.
  • If traveling with another person, provide travel and medical information to that travel-mate.
  • Arrange ahead of time for transportation when you reach your destination; including rental car, Uber, etc.

  • Prepare a personal list to aide in house closure, such as temperature, making sure doors and windows are locked, and appliances off etc.
  • Photo or email vital information to yourself; to include such things as driver’s license, credit cards, and travel documents etc.
  • Packing a few fabric softener sheets in your luggage will keep clothes smelling fresh.
  • Pack strategically. Know where you are going and pack accordingly. In this day and age it is well to follow a minimalist regimen.
  • Make a copy of your itinerary and place it in your suitcases.
  • If going overseas, consider packing Kleenex or toilet paper for emergencies.
  • Cope with motion sickness by choosing the correct location. In an airplane, choose the front or over the wing. On a ship choose the front or middle of the ship, and on an upper deck. On a train or bus choose a front seat that is facing forward. There are over the counter medications that may help too.
  • Use moisturizing cream on long flights. You should drink plenty of liquids on a plane. Perform seat exercises when traveling and, if possible, periodically take walks.
  • In almost cases, leave the expensive jewelry at home. If you must wear jewelry, costume jewelry is best.
  • If in a hotel, take a matchbook or business card from your hotel before you explore.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for help at the airport. If mobility is an issue, set up to have a wheel chair available from the check-in to the gate.
  • Make sure you bring your power cord or whatever you need to power up your devices. If you go out of the U.S., you will need plugs compatible with the destination.
  • Never pack camera equipment in checked luggage.
  • Pack at least 5 days of your prescription medications in your carry-on luggage in case checked bags are misdirected.
  • If you have a cell phone, keep loved ones up to date on your schedule while traveling to advise of any delays of the carriers.

These are general tips that should make travel easier, more convenient, and safer. Of course, by brainstorming on things about where you are going, what you want to see, things you want to acquire, and particular limitations, you can easily come up with many more. The important thing is to have a good time: be open to new experiences; talk to and meet new people; renew friendships; see family who you have missed for years; and be courteous if you are traveling out side the country or in the country in new surroundings. And, lastly, if traveling during heaving travel holiday periods, try to be patient and read that book or Kindle and relax. You will feel much better when you arrive.