Seniors travel to visit family or to see the sights, both across the country and abroad. Even for experienced travelers, aging creates some new challenges that require careful planning. Keep these traveling tips for senior citizens in mind when preparing for your trip.
Organize Your Paperwork
A passport is the most widely accepted form of identification for travelers, especially if you’re flying. Check to make sure yours has not expired and get it renewed if necessary. Unless you pay extra for expedited service, getting a passport renewed can take months, so do this well in advance of traveling.
Designate a trusted family member to be the keeper of a copy of your itinerary. Give them your passport number, driver’s license number, Medicare ID number, and your airline ticket numbers and information. Make sure you have copies of your insurance cards and all your prescriptions to take with you.
Get the Go-Ahead from Your Doctor
See your doctor and describe your travel plans. Your physician can alert you if there are any special concerns, like the length of your flight, how far you might have to walk, and whether jet lag will be a problem.
Check Your Insurance
Find out what would happen if you became ill or injured while traveling? Would Medicare or your supplemental insurance pay? If not, figure out a back-up plan. Although travel insurance can be expensive for seniors, sometimes it provides help paying for emergency medical care if you incur out-of-pocket medical expenses. Read the fine print and decide if you need the coverage.
Make Packing Checklists Well in Advance
Find an unhurried time well before your departure to make lists of what you’ll need to bring with you. That way, you won’t be under last-minute pressure to remember everything you need. Packing light is always advisable, so limit your list to essentials. Comfortable loose clothing, good shoes, and a full supply of your medications, in their original bottles with documentation from your doctor, are a must. Think about security, too, and consider if you need a money-and-passport holder that fits under your clothing to protect you from pickpockets.
Request Appropriate Accommodations
An important tip for senior travelers is to confirm accommodations for any physical or mobility issues. Ask for an aisle seat on your flight, so you won’t have to climb over other passengers to get to the bathroom. Some airlines allow you to identify any disabilities and request accommodation at the time you purchase your ticket. Check with the airport you’ll be traveling through to request a ride to your gate, a wheelchair, or to confirm that you may bring your cane on board the plane and how they will help you if you need to use it to walk in the aisle.
Anticipate Communication Problems
Find out if your phone will work at your destination. If your plan doesn’t include nationwide or international calling, you don’t want to find out by receiving a huge bill after you get home. Consider installing security software on your phone, laptop, or tablet if you don’t already have it, to shield your wi-fi connection if you must log on to unsecured networks on your trip.