Today’s senior citizens are much more active and mobile that the senior citizens of years past. As the Baby Boomers enter retirement, experts anticipate a boom in the travel industry. Many Boomers are expected to place travel at the top of their golden years bucket list. Seniors have a variety of travel options, including senior discount tours, educational travel, mystery tours, and of course travelling to visit with family and friends. If you are a senior citizen, or if you are traveling with a senior citizen, take a look at these ten tips for making your travel plans more accessible and enjoyable.
1. Utilize Senior-Friendly Technology
In order to maximize travel enjoyment and minimize stress, carefully plan your trip. There are many websites and travel apps that anyone can use. These apps run the gamut but include airline check-in, health and safety, city guides, and reservations. Offline maps are easily downloaded and can help aid navigation when internet access is limited. The key to app utilization is practice and preparation beforehand. Weeks before travelling, you or your elderly loved one should practice with the app to gain familiarity. Additionally, using a GPS tracking app can help locate seniors who map become disoriented or lost due to dementia. If seniors are more comfortable with hard copies instead of using an app, many sites allow you to print off directions and maps.
2. Manage Expectations
Even though seniors are able to do much more now than in years past, there will inevitably be limitations and extra obstacles. Even though George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by skydiving, this activity may not be feasible for most. Managing expectations is an important part of a trip, for all ages.
3. Limit Excessive Walking & Plan Breaks
If your senior citizen has limited mobility, take parking and walking into consideration. Research shuttles and other services that help people with limited mobility get around. Especially for those who are prone to falls, walking should be limited. Always bring plenty of water and plan to take regular breaks, which can help seniors recharge their batteries.
4. Give Yourself Extra Time
While guidebooks may suggest that a walking tour or museum tour may take only two hours, allow extra time on your travel itinerary. This will allow time for breaks, and unexpected delays like having to use elevators or ramps instead of stairs. Even if your scheduled activity does not take up your full time allotment, the leftover time will give you a chance to take a break or move on to your next scheduled activity early.
5. Simplify Travel Plans
If travelling in the car, try to keep the time down to four hours. If long-distance travel is unavoidable, break up the trip in stages and allow time to stretch legs and use the bathroom. Similarly, if you are flying, research direct flights as opposed to layovers. While the direct flights may be slightly more expensive, the reduced stress can be worth it. Of course, flying is not right for all people. If your senior citizen has a fear of flying or has never flown, strongly consider alternative methods of transportation.
6. Pack Smartly
When travelling with a senior citizen, always be sure to bring prescriptions, extra medications, and a list of important contacts like family members, doctors and lawyers, emergency contacts. While you should pack enough clothes to be comfortable, consider the possibility of packing lighter to avoid the hassle of checking a bag. You should also utilize rolling and lightweight luggage instead of heavy duffle bags or bulky luggage.
7. Look for Senior Discounts and Senior-Oriented Travel Options
Many airlines and travel companies offer discounts, special packages, or special accommodations for seniors. Almost all airlines now allow the elderly and those travelling with young children to board the plane early. Additionally, request a wheelchair at the airport to get to your gate. If planning a vacation with a senior, look for options that are specifically tailored for seniors or are limited-mobility friendly.
8. Get a Good Travel Insurance
Consider purchasing travel insurance for your trip. Some companies even offer travel insurance specifically oriented for senior citizens. Travel insurance can reduce the stress that comes with making a tough decision when a recurring ailment resurfaces. Instead of forcing a trip in bad health or cancelling without reimbursement, we recommend you consider this option.
9. Take Special Precautions When Your Senior Citizen has Alzheimer’s or Dementia
While an early dementia diagnosis is not necessarily travel moratorium, you should take extra precautions to prevent accidents and minimize stress when traveling with a loved one who has dementia. Always make sure your loved one is wearing an identification bracelet that can help identify them if they become lost or wander off. Keep the travel setting relatively familiar to your loved one as this helps avoid anxiety and confusion.
10. Visit the Doctor Ahead of Time
Before travelling, have your senior get checked out by the doctor. In addition to getting cleared for travel, this is a good time to make sure they are up to date on all vaccinations, including vaccinations that are recommended based on the country of travel.
While travelling with seniors requires special considerations, it can also be very rewarding. By following some of the tips outlined above, you can increase the chances of a happy and successful trip.