Spring and summer months are popular travel times. Whether you have some wanderlust that grew over the winter, are planning a vacation with the family or just want to fly across the country to see the grandkids, these seasons are a great time to do so.
But traveling as an older adult, especially if you're on your own for much of the journey, can seem daunting. Check out the tips below to help ensure a safe, enjoyable trip if you plan on an adventure.
Having the right clothing with you can make a huge difference in whether you enjoy time at your destination or not. Pack mostly for the weather where you'll be staying, but remember that airports and airplanes can be cool. If you're traveling somewhere warm or tropical, you might consider packing shorts and short-sleeve shirts, for example, while wearing a light pair of pants and bringing a cardigan along for warmth on flights.
Other considerations when packing clothing include:
• Sun protection. If you'll be outdoors during your vacation, especially on the water, bring a lightweight long-sleeve coverup and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
• Different activities. Know whether you're planning to attend an event that's formal or semi-formal so you can pack the right type of ensemble for it.
• Clothing in your carry-on. If you check a bag while traveling, make sure your carry-on has at least one change of clothes. That way if your bag gets delayed, you have clean clothes to wear the next day.
• Whether you'll have access to do laundry. If you can easily wash your clothes where you're staying, you can pack less. That means a smaller, easier-to-manage suitcase.
Count how many days you'll be gone and make sure you have enough prescription medication with you to cover more than those days. You could get delayed at an airport or change your plans, and you want to ensure you don't have to skip doses of important medication.
Reach out to your doctor before you travel if you need a partial refill of medication to cover a trip. Many times, physicians' offices are happy to fulfill such requests. This is also a great time to ask if there are any precautions you should take when traveling related to any medical conditions you might have.
You might also want to gather medical files or just jot down pertinent medical facts about yourself for carrying on your trip. Carry this document in a location such as your pocketbook, laptop bag or backpack so it's easily accessible and likely to be found by emergency medical responders if needed.
Some information you might want to list on such documents include:
• All the medications you take
• Whether you have any allergies
• Specifics of a chronic condition you have, such as diabetes, that could make treating an urgent issue unique
Include a card in your wallet with emergency contact information so people can contact someone for you if needed.
Travel insurance can help cover losses if your trip is canceled or cut short due to natural disaster, illness, political unrest or, potentially, a pandemic. You can buy travel insurance when you book your trip, but check with your credit card company first. Many credit card companies offer automatic travel insurance if you pay for a trip with your card.
Think about what type of accommodations you might need at hotels, airports or attractions. Many of these businesses are happy to accommodate needs by providing:
• Handicap accessible bathrooms
• Wheelchairs or room for wheelchairs
• Transport via carts or cars over long distances, such as in large airports or at theme parks
Call ahead to ensure these services are available and schedule them for the best results.
For peace of mind — yours and your loved ones' — you can sign up for GPS tracking services using your cell phone, a smartwatch or a tracking bracelet. This lets someone you trust keep tabs on where you are and know if something might have gone wrong because you aren't following an itinerary you previously shared. They can call local law enforcement or another appropriate service to check up on you if they can't get in touch with you after noticing such a discrepancy.
Finally, plan for quality time over cramming things into your vacation or trip. It's tempting to try to do everything available at a location, but if you overdo it, you can spend much of your trip tired or even sick. Instead, create a priority list for things you really don't want to miss and plan for those with plenty of breaks and rest between them. You can always add a few things as you go if you're feeling up to it.