September 4th, 2018
No matter what age you are, as long as you still feel good enough to travel, don’t stop “turning the pages!” Not only can vacations be good fun, but they can also do wonders for physical and mental health.
Senior trips can be as simple as visits to other family, including grandkids and great-grandchildren. Or they can be grand adventures to particular destinations, via plane, train, or even a cruise ship. And while some seniors may feel safer traveling with their caregiver, others still are independent enough to prefer solo travel. Regardless of personal preferences, here are some tips that can help make senior travel easier, safer and more enjoyable.
Senior travelers not only have many varied interests, they also possess varying physical abilities. Fortunately, today’s travel options have never been more accessible.
But just because the world of travel is open to almost everyone, it doesn’t mean that everyone can – or should – go almost anywhere. Rather than just going online in search of the cheapest airline tickets, caregivers can assist by having an open discussion with loved ones regarding travel wishes. “Dream vacations” don’t have to remain a dream at any age, especially with so many tour and cruise possibilities out there. Several tour operators, including Accessible Journeys and Flying Wheels, even specialize in “accessible lifestyle vacations,” which cater to those with special needs and disabilities. Or, as an affordable alternative for those who still drive: how about an RV (recreational vehicle) trip across the continental United States!
With that said, here are some of the top-rated destinations for senior travelers:
*Africa (Tanzania, Kenya)
Nobody likes being caught unprepared, and poor travel planning can be even riskier where seniors are involved. For those who have unresolved doubts and concerns, it may be best to consult a travel agent for suggestions. Beyond that, here are some pre-trip planning musts to keep in mind:
*Allow enough time to assemble important personal and medical documents (especially passports, which can take months to process).
*Find out about the medical facilities in the destination areas.
*Research important factors such as climate, language, and culture. (A good guidebook can be beneficial here).
*Make arrangements for wheelchairs, guide dogs, and seating needs well in advance.
*Organize travel insurance, with pre-existing illness coverage if needed.
*If there are extraordinary health concerns involved, make arrangements for a reputable package tour.
Additional packing tips for seniors include:
*Try to fit everything necessary into an (a) roll-aboard suitcase and (b) a medium over-the-shoulder carry-on.
*Place all over-the-counter medications into a one-quart zip-lock freezer bag (and include copies of prescriptions and/or physician statements inside your hand-carry bag).
*If transporting gifts for relatives, keep the items unwrapped and place them inside the roll-aboard luggage.
Caregivers who are accustomed to taking care of special needs on a daily basis may forget that strangers may not automatically be aware of those needs. Hence, it is important to make sure to reach out and request assistance for your loved ones in advance. That assistance may include:
*Special seat assignments for disabled travelers.
*Cost-free wheelchair service at the airport.
*Restricted dietary needs (if onboard meal services provided).
*Human assistance – from the counter, through security, to the gate, and then boarding.