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Tips For The Senior Traveler

Traveling can be a great joy and give you a sense of adventure, yet traveling can be stressful for just about anyone.  For the senior traveler, following these common sense travel tips can help make your next trip more pleasurable and stress free.

Pre-Trip Planning

  • Consult with a good travel agent to see if he or she has any suggestions for trips targeting seniors.  Let your agent know of any special travel needs you may have.
  • When you’ve chosen a travel destination, research the medical facilities and ensure they are adequate in case you have any health related concerns when you are away.
  • If you have special needs like a wheelchair or guide dog, you will have to make air travel and hotel arrangements in advance.
  • Arrange for your travel health insurance.

Before Leaving The House

Many people fail to think about how they need to secure their home before they set out on their travels.  Don’t forget these important points:

  • Remove all your exterior hidden keys.
  • Double check all your locks and windows.  Make sure everything is secure; replace any locks that don’t appear tight.
  • Make a record of all your important documents like your passport, birth certificate, credit cards etc.
  • Stop your mail, newspaper and other deliveries.
  • Program your interior timers for lights and radios to make it appear that you are home.
  • Give your complete itinerary to a trusted family member or friend.

Air Travel Tips

  • When making your air travel arrangements, make sure you know about cancellation and change policies.  Likely, you will have a choice of ticket prices and the penalties and conditions will change accordingly.
  • Read the fine print on your e-ticket.  It outlines your rights and responsibilities as well as the airline’s liability if you are bumped, overbooked, the flight is cancelled or if they lose or damage your luggage.
  • If you have flexibility in your travel, aim to get off-peak flight discount fares, off-season airfares, early bird discounts or fly on charter airlines.  All of these options could save you money.
  • If you have special needs (dietary, mobility etc.) be sure to advise the airline at the time of booking.  They can often make special arrangements as long as they have advance warning.
  • Take advantage of pre-boarding if you require more time boarding the aircraft.  Stay seated after the plane has landed and the flight crew will be able to assist you with deplaning.
  • Read the safety briefing card located in the front seat pocket.  Make sure you know where the emergency exits are located and how to use the oxygen mask.
  • Drink plenty of water and try to avoid caffeine, alcohol and sugar before and during the flight.
  • Before you leave for the airport from home or the city you are visiting, call the airline or go online to see if the flight is on time.
  • Give yourself plenty of time for connections and for getting through the check-in counter and security checkpoints.  Remember to allow even more time if you are in a city with a congested airport.

At Your Accommodations

  • If you have traveled a great distance, give your body a day or two to get over your jet lag.
  • When you arrive at the place you will be staying, unpack your luggage and do a quick check to ensure that everything is there.  If anything is missing, advise your airline immediately.  (It helps to bring a list of your items with you).
  • Check your luggage ID tags. If any have been torn off or have become unreadable, be sure to replace them.
  • If you are unsure of the water quality, purchase bottled water and use it for drinking and brushing your teeth.
  • If you are staying at a hotel or other paid accommodations, lock your empty luggage, as this is just one measure you can take so that should someone be in your room, they cannot use your luggage to remove your belongings from the hotel.
  • Never leave anything of value in your room such as cash, jewelry, credit cards, camera, car keys etc.  If the room has a small safe, store valuables in there or make alternative arrangements with the hotel security staff.
  • Most hotel rooms have additional locks on the doors.  Use these locks at all times when occupying your room.
  • Never give out your room number to strangers.  Instead, have them call the hotel front desk who will then contact you in your room.
  • Use the do not disturb sign when you are in your room and when you leave (provided the cleaning staff has already visited your room).

When Out and About

  • If you are traveling alone, consider taking group tours instead of sightseeing on your own.  There really is safety in numbers.
  • To steer clear of food poisoning on your travels, avoid seafood, undercooked meats, buffets, raw fruits and vegetables, dairy products and food from street vendors.
  • If you contract food poisoning or diarrhea, remember that these conditions can change the effectiveness of your medication.  Contact your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
  • Try to schedule your activities at a leisurely pace.  Don’t pack every day full with sightseeing and excursions.  Drink plenty of water and schedule in time for proper meal breaks.
  • If using public swimming pools or if you are staying in accommodations with shared bathroom facilities, wear thongs or waterproof shoes to avoid infectious conditions like warts and athlete’s foot.
  • Ask about senior discounts.  Many attractions, excursions and even restaurants will give seniors discounted prices.
  • Dress down when sightseeing.  If you appear to be wealthy by wearing expensive clothing and jewelry, you could attract pickpockets and thieves.
  • Bring a traveler safety belt with you and wear it underneath your clothing.  Carry your money, credits cards and identification in this hidden belt.
  • If you are visiting a highly dangerous locale, you may want to consider carrying a dummy wallet.  Place a small amount of cash (even a fake or expired credit card) in the dummy wallet and if you are unfortunate enough to encounter a mugger or pickpocket, you would hand them the dummy wallet and hopefully they will be satisfied and leave you alone.
  • Ask at the manager or concierge at your front desk if there are any areas to be avoided.  Follow their advice.
  • Be wary of pickpockets.  Warning signs are people changing seats often and walking around suspiciously in waiting areas, loitering in crowded locations, carrying coats or jackets over their arms and intentionally bumping into people.

Traveling is a great experience and these travel tips aren’t meant to scare the senior traveler.  Instead, they are simply provided to ensure that your trip is as enjoyable as possible.  Enjoy your next vacation!

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