Travel Tips for Older Adults from a Travel Companion

Author

Kavod Senior Life at Cherry Creek

For more information about the author, click to view their website: Kavod Senior Life at Cherry Creek

Posted on

Dec 20, 2023

Book/Edition

Colorado - Denver Metro

Recently I traveled to the east coast with my mom, who is 80+. I was a little bit nervous when the idea came up, but we ended up having a wonderful trip. The overall experience was good due to our planning and preparation. If you are taking similar excursion by plane, here are some helpful tips!

Tickets

First, when we purchased our flight, we made sure to buy tickets that were refundable and/or exchangeable. Alternatively – or in addition, it is a good idea to purchase travel insurance with the “cancel for any reason” option. Insurance provides that peace of mind knowing that your trip is protected if something should happen.

Then, share your flight information with someone you trust, and especially with anyone who will be greeting you when you return. Most travel docs can be accessed electronically or through cloud-based applications. I advise making and keeping copies of your flight schedules, travel insurance, photo ID, list of medications and doses, emergency contacts, and passport, in case of emergency. This gave me peace of mind that if my mom and I were separated or if our phones went dead, I had all our crucial documentation readily available.

Seats

When booking the flight, we selected an aisle seat for my mom to allow for easier access to the restroom and ability to stretch her legs, if needed. Ideally, if you can get aisle seats across from each other, you can help accessing items from the overhead bin for your companion, if necessary.

Medications

Pack medications (in their original containers) in your carryon instead of in your checked luggage. This way you have them on you in case your bags get lost of if you need to take them during the flight. Many airlines currently flag for this anyway. Make sure to take extra with you. Also, obtain the name and contact information for your companion’s health care provider prior to leaving.

At The Airport

It probably goes without saying, but arrive at the airport early. We did this and didn’t feel rushed, so it helped us able navigate the airport easily and go through security lines without additional stress. Remember that older travelers may need extra time getting around, and may need to make more frequent stops.

If it is possible, see if you can get TSA pre-check or ask a security agent if you can enter a shorter line. We didn’t even have to ask; a kind employee saw us coming and ushered us right through. One thing in your favor is that adults 75 years and older do not have to take off their shoes at the checkpoint.

Getting Around

Another tip that was very helpful especially when it came moving across a large airport like here in Denver: arrange for a wheelchair or assistance before you arrive. Better yet, make the request when you are purchasing your tickets. Also – something some people may not do – tip the person who drives or assist once you get there. Appreciation goes a long way.

General Tips

While the following suggestions may be common knowledge, they bear repeating.

–Don’t be shy in asking for help. If you want to board with those who need extra assistance ahead of your official boarding group, let the airline staff know. They can usually accommodate this request, and even help transport your bags. Also, ask for help when lifting luggage from the carousel once you land at baggage claim. Hoisting heavy bags while they are moving could be an injury risk. Most travelers and/or staff are more than happy to provide a hand.

–Carry healthy snacks with you (such as nuts, sliced or dried fruit, a small sandwich, and/or hard-boiled eggs). Have an empty water bottle that you can fill once you are beyond security. The airline might offer a small snack and beverage, but it’s always good to have something you know you like. Remember to pack your snacks in plastic zip close bags to prevent leakage and keep them handy.

–Water! Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Often times older adults hesitate doing this so they don’t have to get up and use the restroom during the flight. The inconvenience is worth the health benefits.

–Stand and stretch your legs on the flight as much as you can to avoid deep vein thrombosis and the risk of blood clots. Keeping your blood circulating properly will help you also be less fidgety, especially on longer flights.

A few other websites that confirm these tips are listed here:

—https://www.healthinaging.org/tools-and-tips/tip-sheet-safe-travel-tips-older-adults

—https://www.visitorscoverage.com/blog/top-12-travel-tips-for-seniors/

Once You Arrive

Have an idea of what you would like to do as once you reach your destination. While some of our trip involved seeing family, we knew we wanted to see the area while they were busy. By doing some research beforehand, we knew what was available to maximize our time. For instance, we found out we could book a trolley tour without a prior reservation; this allowed us to see a lot without too much walking. Knowing your options ahead of time and having flexibility helps when traveling with older individuals, as their needs may change due to weather, altitude, or time zone adjustments.

Another Option

If you and your companion would prefer to leave the planning to someone else, there are groups that will handle these details for you. Kavod’s Life Enrichment Department offers trips and excursions that are open to the community! https://kavodseniorlife.org/campus-activities/calendars/.  We often travel out of state – and even book CRUISES! Join our mailing list to learn about these fabulous outings where Kavod handles the planning – and fun. https://kavodseniorlife.org/get-in-touch/contact-kavod/

Parting Thoughts

My mom and I had a wonderful vacation by following the tips listed above, and I know you can too. I hope these travel tidbits will encourage you to take a trip with a parent or older friend. You ALL can have a safe, stress-free and enjoyable time – as we did. 

Happy Trails!

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