Note from drb:
Say the word ‘summer’ and the idea of ‘vacation’ may not be far behind. I don’t have much planned for myself this year, but recently got back from a short car trip – in some ways an easier type of travel than most. Yet, there are pros and cons of all travel, or for ‘staycations’ (as the more trendy among us call staying-in-place).
For instance, I love driving on back country roads; but I hate driving on country roads when fast, local drivers constantly tail-gate me. Arranged tours are relaxing because most decisions are made for you, but on tours you are at the mercy of decisions made by others. Yes, that’s right – a real contradiction.
To cover some of the more straight-forward predicaments of senior travel, I have invited Marie Villeza to be one of our rare guest writers. She is the developer of a neat new site called ElderImpact.org. If you garner even one new safety or comfort tip here, it’s worth the read. Enjoy it…. and hope you plan on some type of travel or special staycation this summer. drb.
Planning a trip or vacation is exciting, but there are also many things to take into consideration, especially if you are a senior. When you’re flying, there are several details you’ll need to think about before the trip to ensure your safety and comfort. So it’s important to do sufficient research on the airline and their policies. Learn how you can ask for accommodations before, during, and after your trip that will keep you safe and happy.
Here are some of the best tips when your trip involves flying
Do your research
No matter where you’re going, you’ll need to start planning as soon as possible in order to get what you want. Check out different airlines in your area to get familiar with their policies on luggage, carry-ons, fees, and discounts. Ask about acquiring a wheelchair or help with your bags at the airport if necessary. If you have a disability, don’t forget to request a seat on the plane that will accommodate you. Find out if you qualify for pre-boarding.
Depending on the length of your flight, food may not be available to you. Bring a small bag with snacks. Also remember any medication you might require, a book or magazine, as well as anything else you may desire to be comfortable.
[drb: I often bring my empty water bottle – through security – and then fill it before boarding. This means I also have my preferred bottle for the entire trip.]
It’s always smart to pack light, and you might even consider packing only what you can fit into a carry-on if possible. Not only will it save you money, but you won’t have to worry about spending time waiting for your luggage at baggage claim or–even worse–losing your belongings. If you’re traveling with a spouse or significant other, pack half of your belongings in their suitcase and vice versa. That way, if one of you loses luggage, there will still be clothing available until you can get the problem sorted out.
Take care of documentation
Make sure you have all documentation together in one safe place, such as an envelope with a clasp. Passport, ID, insurance cards, travel itinerary, tickets, and any statements from your doctor regarding your health or disability should all be kept together for easy access. You might even consider duplicate copies.
Make certain your friends and family know all the details of your itinerary.
Wear comfy clothing
Remember to dress for the weather of your destination. Check the actual recent forecasts.
Air travel necessitates comfortable clothing, so wear layers of loose, cotton items if possible. Wear comfy slip-on shoes to make security check-ins a breeze, and possibly slipper-socks for wear at your seat.
Speaking of security, if you have implants that will make the metal detectors go off, keep a statement from your doctor with your paperwork so there will be no delays or confusion at security.
Keep money and personal items safe
Be sure not to flash your cash, whether you’re in the airport or on the plane. We all know that potential thieves are often attracted to seniors because they feel that older people are easy targets. Keep your money secure by putting it in your front pocket or wearing a purse that goes across your body. Don’t forget to distribute some funds in various places. When it’s not stowed on the plane, keep hold of your carry-on at all times (even when using the rest room).
When in your lodging, don’t use the door signs supplied by the hotel that tell the maid to come in and clean. This gives thieves a green light that there may be an opportunity to slip in when you’re not around.
Make sure the destination can accommodate you
Traveling is only one part of the planning; you’ll also need to prepare your accommodations. If you need wheelchair service or have a special diet, plan for that well ahead of time so there won’t be any nasty surprises when you arrive. This may be particularly important in foreign or moderately priced (vs. up-scale) lodgings.
[drb: Even when traveling with a tour group, it is judicious to double/triple check the details of your special needs. And don’t forget companies like Road Scholar (previously Elderhostel) or Grand Circle Tours/OAT who specialize in accommodating seniors. ]
If you, or a traveling companion, is living with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to take precautions that will keep you safe – or stress free – before the trip. Check with representatives at your accommodations ahead of time to make sure you’ll be able to prevent wandering.
Remember that traveling can be overwhelming even if you are well prepared, so try not to allow stress to get to you. Still, the more prepared you are, the less stress. Keep your emergency contacts updated in your phone. Let your friends and family know where you are once you arrive – and don’t forget to have fun!
Ms. Marie Villeza developed ElderImpact.org to provide seniors and their caregivers with resources and advice.
Photo Credit: Photo via Pixabay by Hiljon