You’ve worked hard your whole life and now you have the time to see the world as you’ve looked forward to doing for years. To help you get the most out of your next holiday, here is a list of handy travel tips including tips related to health, safety, transport and leisure.
Consult with your travel agent for suggestions on destinations, providers and activities. For example, many tour operators specialise in accommodating the needs of travelling seniors. Your travel agent can help you with ideas and get your planning started.
Don’t forget about the importance of arranging travel insurance before you depart and preferably as soon as you have made booking payments. This will cover you if you need to cancel or postpone your trip. Make sure you organise travel insurance with pre-existing illness cover if needed, or you may not be covered.
Make arrangements for wheelchairs, guide dogs and seating needs well in advance.
To begin with, it may be easier for you to use a lightweight suitcase with wheels. This will minimise the dragging and tugging you might otherwise have to do with a regular suitcase with only a handle. Make sure it is a quality suitcase but still light as it will not only allow you to pack what you need but it won’t be as heavy for you to lug around.
Make sure your carry-on bag contains everything you will need for the duration of the flight. Include a medical kit in your carry-on bag. Items to consider include regular medications, painkillers, antacids and band-aids.
If you take a number of regular medications, it might be a good idea to take along a pillbox with compartments for different days of the week. Being away from home (and your usual routine) could make you more likely to forget to take your medication. You can organise this yourself or your local chemist can set it up for you.
Maximise your luggage space and minimise the weight you have to carry by taking clothing items that can be layered and interchanged. If you are travelling for a few weeks, you can wash your clothes and reuse them. If you are travelling as a couple, divide your clothes, money and belongings evenly between each of your suitcases. If one of your bags gets delayed or lost you will still have something to wear and money to spend.
Take a spare pair of your prescription glasses in case you lose or break your pair. It is also handy to take an eye glasses script should you need to get a new pair while you are away. If you wear hearing aids, take spare batteries with you as they might be hard to find. If you use dentures, take enough denture adhesive for the entire trip.
The low humidity on planes can be dehydrating. Drink plenty of water on your flight to stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these can dehydrate you faster. Use moisturiser to prevent your hands from drying out.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) commonly affects the elderly and those with heart disease or circulatory problems. Sitting still for long periods of time (such as on a plane) can increase these DVT risk factors. Consult with your doctor before flying. They may recommend that you take half an aspirin (150mg) on the day of the flight. Do arm, leg and foot stretching exercises when you are seated. When possible, get up and walk up and down the aisles. Wear compression stockings to increase blood flow in your lower legs.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
Visit your doctor and dentist for a general check-up before you leave. This is especially important if you have any known or chronic conditions. Ask about any vaccinations relevant to your destination. Ensure your regular vaccinations such as the flu shot are up to date. Discuss any particular health concerns you may have, such as dietary changes and the possible impact of different eating habits on your specific condition.
Ask your doctor to print a list of all your current medications, their generic names, dosages and frequency taken. Print a spare copy and keep it separate from your main luggage. Take enough regular medication with you to last the entire trip. Some drugs may not be available overseas. If you do need to buy medications overseas, remember that the dosages may be different to the brands you are familiar with.
If there are any other healthcare providers you consult with on a regular basis, it may be wise to pay them a visit before you go as well.
Allow an easy day or two when you first arrive to recover from jet lag.
Drinking local tap water may make you sick. If unsure of the water supply, drink bottled water. Ask for drinks without ice cubes. Brush your teeth using bottled or boiled water.
Be cautious with the food you eat to reduce the risk of food poisoning.
Thieves and pickpockets may consider older people as easy targets. Carry your wallet, passport and money in a travel belt around your waist or a pouch around your neck. Ensure it is under your clothes and can’t be seen. Leave your expensive jewellery at home. Wearing excessive jewellery can make you a target for pickpockets.
Make a photocopy of your passport and travel documents including travel insurance policy, travellers cheques, visas and credit cards. Carry a copy with you, separate from your main luggage and leave a copy with a family member or friend at home.
If a lot of walking or standing is required, think about hiring a wheelchair or electric scooter. Most places of interest such as museums, theme parks, gardens offer these for free or at a small cost.
Schedule in rest days where you can relax and recharge. Having a packed schedule will only add to your fatigue. Do activities in the morning and return the hotel in the afternoon for a shower and an afternoon nap. You will leave for dinner feeling refreshed.
Try to book your accommodation close to the main sights you are planning to visit. This will minimise the walking you have to do or other transportation you will need to arrange. Your travel agent can help you find a place that suits your needs and budget.
Ask for a room close to the elevators; it will cut down the amount of walking you have to do each day. If the hotel does not have an elevator, ask for a ground floor room. If no ground floor rooms are available as for assistance in getting your luggage up the stairs.
In-room wi-fi internet charges can be very expensive. Some hotels offer free wi-fi in the lobby or bar areas. If the hotel offers no free internet, many cafés and coffee houses offer free wi-fi with any purchase.
Ask your Travel Agent to organise a taxi, hire car or shuttle bus service that will offer door to door service and assistance with your luggage. Public transport might be cheaper, but you will have to manage your luggage and find your hotel on your own.
Show your seniors or pension card as it could entitle you to discounts off local transport fares. Senior rates can be up to 50% of the fare for trains, trams, buses and ferries.
Try learning a few basic words in your destination’s native language. Words like ‘hello’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘help’, ‘goodbye’, ‘sorry’, ‘excuse me’ will go a long way to fitting in. Locals will really appreciate your efforts even if they are not perfect!
Ask permission before you take a photo of someone. If they say no, respect their decision. It can be illegal to take photos of police or military personnel or property. Check for warning signs or ask an official first. If in doubt, don’t take the photo.
Hotels and airports charge high rates for currency conversions. Find a local bank to get a much better rate for your cash or travellers cheques.
ATM’s are the easiest way to get cash overseas using your bank or debit card. Be warned that fees can be high for international transactions and you may also be charged by the ATM provider. Never use a credit card at an ATM to withdraw cash. You will be charged a fee and a high interest rate that often has no interest-free period.
Souvenir shops and tourist areas are the most expensive places to buy gifts. Find the local markets. Initial prices will be grossly marked up to allow for bargaining. Decide on the lowest price you are willing to pay, then go up from there until you meet an agreed price with the seller.
If you get carried away with your shopping, consider posting some of your items home. Excess baggage charges on airlines are very costly. Make sure you ship your items with insurance.