Now that spring is here, it’s time to start thinking about traveling to far-away locales and visiting our loved ones. But after reaching 50, there are certain issues that we need to keep in mind when leaving our familiar surroundings. Below are 16 tips to help circumvent unwanted travel troubles. Bon voyage!
1. Research and plan ahead: Ask for senior discounts for fares, or research your options on the SmarterTravel website. Always try to find the shortest and most direct travel tickets.
2. Know what to expect on your trip: Do your research ahead of time regarding airport terminal maps, customs forms, immigration forms and travel regulations in the country of your destination.
3. Select an aisle seat for long flights: You will have more freedom to move about with an aisle seat. If you are traveling with another person, choose seats that are across the aisle from each other so you will both have equal mobility and still be nearby.
4. Request and reserve special services: When you make your reservation, tell the airline about dietary needs, necessary accommodations like walkers or wheelchairs, or the need to travel with your service pet.
5. Print out and share your travel documents: Make copies of your boarding pass, driver’s license, emergency contacts, medical information (Medicare and insurance card), passport ID page, travel insurance documents and visas. Keep one copy with you, and send one to the people you are visiting. If your passport is stolen, your prescriptions are lost or your flight is canceled, you’ll be able to contact your travel insurance company for help and give them the necessary info to proceed.
6. Leave the bling at home: Wearing expensive jewelry, carrying fancy cameras or having lots of cash in your wallet can make you an easy target for thieves. Be cautious, and avoid drawing attention to yourself.
7. Avoid airport hassles: Getting to the airport, terminal and gate early always makes sense. If the distances are long, arrange for assistance ahead of time. This can also be done when you book your ticket.
8. Keep medications handy: Take several days’ worth of important medications in your carry-on, and keep them nearby in your seat so you don’t have to dig around your bag in the overhead bin. Pack extra medication in case your travel plans change or there are unforeseen delays.
9. Drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol: High altitudes are extremely dehydrating, so have a water bottle handy and sip throughout your flight.
10. The crewmembers are there to help: If you need help getting your carry-on luggage into place (or have any in-flight need), don’t be afraid to ask for help.
11. Bring something healthy to eat: Energy bars, fruit, nuts and yogurt are good snacks to pick up at the terminal after you’ve passed security. Not all airlines offer in-flight snacks, so try to have something close at hand so you don’t have to rummage through the overhead bin.
12. Stand up and stretch as often as possible: Senior travelers need to be aware of deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, which can cause death. Make it a point to move about the plane, stand, stretch or wiggle as much as possible while flying, especially during a long flight.
13. Get help with your luggage: After an arduous flight, you may be more tired than you think. Let someone else wrestle your bag off the carousel and load your bags into a taxi or hotel van.
14. Keep others in the loop: Let your hotel concierge know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. You can also make sure that your friends and/or family back home are aware of your plans. Also, carry a cellphone at all times.
15. Don’t advertise your absence: When staying in a hotel, don’t hang the “Please clean my room” sign on your hotel door. Just call the front desk on your way out and let someone know that your room can be cleaned your room while you’re gone.
16. Watch what you eat: Unless you want to risk abdominal distress, when traveling away from home, avoid heavy or spicy dishes, drinks that are not sterilized, and fresh fruits or vegetables that may not have been grown under the best conditions.
— Marilyn Murray Willison is a columnist, motivational speaker and journalist, and author of The Self-Empowered Woman blog and the award-winning memoir One Woman, Four Decades, Eight Wishes. Click here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.