June 19, 2024

Traveling is good for our mental health. It doesn’t matter if you are a globetrotter or just taking the occasional trip, it is beneficial. But you need to be aware of the risks as you age. We know we are 20 years younger in our minds, but our bodies tell a different story. We just naturally have limitations as we age.

It is imperative that you have a solid plan and a backup plan so you can avoid travel pitfalls. Even this much time after the COVID-19 pandemic we still have concerns. The thought of travel can cause you to worry. The best plan is to be prepared and take the necessary precautions to have an enjoyable and safe trip.

Here are a few guidelines you should consider when traveling:

1. Follow The Public Health Guidelines

I recommend you wear a face covering when you are in densely populated areas. Planes, Trains, etc.

CDC has a wealth of travel guides, including frequently asked questions and tools for gauging COVID-19 risk by destination, at cdc.gov/travel.

2. Choose the right hotel

Some hotels will not always be equipped to accommodate your mobility issues.  Call ahead and let them know your needs and see if they can handle them. The last thing you want to do is fall or not be able to get into your room because of the tricky steps.

Remember – just because they have an elevator it does not mean it is working. Call the hotel and ask specifically if it is working and let them know of your mobility constraints. You can always ask for a ground floor room.

3. Don’t Announce your travels

Thieves will troll social media to learn who isn’t home. It is like opening a door for them. Mums the word.

I always get a house sitter just so the thieves see activity and will move on down the road.


4. Know the rules

If your medication is a liquid and requires that you also have syringes, pumps, freezer packs, or IV bags, the TSA will allow you to carry it all on the plane. Before you pack, check the TSA’s rules, so you know how to pack them. And always pack in your carry-on case. If your checked bag gets lost you are without your medications.

Make a list of your medications, doctors, and the location of a pharmacy covered by your insurance (or Medicare) at your destination.

If you’re 75 or older, TSA usually allows you to go through the security pre-check line, which means you don’t have to remove your shoes or separate laptops or liquids from your carry-on. For those younger than 75 who can’t—or don’t want to—stand in long security lines, the TSA Precheck or Global Entry program are options. TSA Precheck is for flights between U.S. airports, and Global Entry is for international flights. Each program has a non-refundable application fee, and you must apply for the program well in advance of your travel. But if approved, your status lasts for five years.

5. Stay healthy

It’s important that you stay healthy.

Airplanes typically have much less humidity than a normal environment which can put you at higher risk of dehydration and respiratory diseases. Be sure to drink loads of water on the plane.

Walk the aisle to prevent blood clots. Stand up and stretch often.

Call your doctor and let them know your travel plans so they can give you instructions to stay healthy. Also, ask about your immunizations.

The airline will accommodate you if you have mobility issues. Call ahead and it will be put in your travel record, and they will take care of you.

You will need to talk with the airline if you have a chronic condition that has dietary restrictions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or hypertension, and you’re taking a long flight that overlaps when you know you should eat. A representative can tell you if they can accommodate your dietary needs. If they can’t, pack your own food.

6. Important Documents

Before leaving home, make copies of your important documents, like your passport, driver’s license, Medicare card, and itinerary. Pack an extra set with you and leave copies with people you trust at home. You will experience less stress and complications in getting replacements if they can see the copies.

Make certain you have emergency contact information on you. If a medical emergency occurs, the people helping will need to know your emergency contact and a health care provider back home.


7. Don’t be a target

Older adults are targets for theft and fraud. Whether you’re traveling alone or with a group, take precautions to protect yourself both inside and outside of your hotel room.

Use the hotel room safe. Double-check the code to make certain it locks. But don’t forget to check it before you leave. You would be amazed at the things people leave behind.

Consider also investing in pick-pocket-proof travel clothes. Many companies design fashionable pants and jackets that come with deep inside zippers and magnetically sealed pockets that help keep your valuables safe from pickpockets.

Credit card fraud is prevalent in tourist destinations. Unless you plan to monitor your transaction history via a mobile app, cash will reduce your risk. Keep it stashed in 3 or 4 different places so if you are hit then you haven’t lost all your funds.

Some credit card companies still require you to call before you travel. You can also do it on their website. Even after calling you could have an issue with your card. The bank hiccups and your card is flagged with fraud.  A simple call usually clears it up.

8. Pace Yourself

You don’t need to see everything. And you don’t need to move in quick speed. Take a cab if you just can’t make the walk. You could even hire a tour guide to take you around the area in a car. You will get to see more than the folks walking.

Take breaks often and just enjoy watching the people walking by. Chat with people. I love chatting with families and get their story of why there are in that specific city. It is always interesting!

There you go – just apply these tips, enjoy your trip, and bring back loads of great memories.

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