Hitting the road this summer? Great.
There’s nothing like travel to stimulate the mind and invigorate the spirit. Planning is part of the fun!
Flying? Google Flights is a great way to check prices. If your dates are flexible you can save tons of money and Google Flights makes it easy to see how much of a difference a few days can make.
One alternative to renting a car is to rely on Uber or Lyft. If you have a smartphone, just download the apps. It’s easy, fast and convenient.
Adventure? Pampering? What’s your style? The Internet may have made travel agents seem unnecessary, but they can still be a wealth of information. They may charge you for the time it takes to research your trip … and it may just be worth it.
TripAdvisor and similar websites can be great sources of information about avoiding crowds, best routes, senior travel agencies and great places to stay and what to do. AARP can help as well, and VRBO and Airbnb are good ways to find interesting places to stay – and the rates and ambiance may be favorable to hotels.
Driving? Your GPS or phone app navigator probably has an option to avoid highways. It will take you longer, but the drive may be a lot more fun.
Accommodations: Do your research
If you need accommodations for a disability or want to travel with pets, check ahead of time. Some hotel chains allow pets but will want, for example, a $100 non-refundable deposit. Others, like Red Roof Inns, do not charge extra. Still others allow service animals for free but ban others. If you need supplemental oxygen and you’ll be flying, talk to the airline about its oxygen policy. Talk to your physician about any potential travel concerns. If you need to, request special services ahead of time, such as wheelchair services.
Packing: Go light
The fewer valuables and other possessions, the less chance you’ll lose something. Avoid ostentatious jewelry or flashing large amounts of cash. Roll clothing to fit more clothing into a small piece of luggage. Use rolling luggage.
Pack medications in a one-quart freezer bag and place in carry-on luggage for easy access. Don’t pack medications into checked luggage. Avoid checking luggage when possible, since it may be difficult to get off a luggage carousel and it usually costs more. It’s often easier to get through TSA security if you’re in a wheelchair. A wheelchair can also keep you from overdoing it physically while navigating those long airport walks.
Do you have any knee implants or hip replacements that may set off TSA alarms? Bring a doctor’s statement about any implanted steel.
Consider applying for the TSA precheck program. For $85, you get five-year access to speed through security and don’t need to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets.
Consider getting a physical before you leave, and also consider trip insurance.
If you’re traveling internationally, review the U.S. State Department’s Traveler’s Checklist. Know how to find the American embassy or consulate where you’re vacationing. In the event of an emergency in a foreign land, the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate is an essential partner in getting help and services you may need. Consider taking advantage of the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to enhance your security and streamline your experience if you need help while abroad.
Bring a mix of one or two credit cards, cash or local currency for abroad and traveler’s checks. If you need cash handy, consider keeping a small amount in a clip in your front (not back) pocket, and all your other currency in a secure traveler’s wallet. Even if you lose a few bucks to a pickpocket, you’re not penniless and stranded. Keep all currency, passports, and other important documents secured on your person at all times. Don’t leave crucial documents, cash, or ID in your pockets or an open purse. A travel wallet carried around your body and under your clothes can make things difficult for pickpockets. If you’re traveling with children, keep their documentation with you in a secure belt, pouch, or wallet.
Consider taking an empty water bottle through security. Once inside, fill it from a water fountain. It’s cheap and easy and will help with hydration. This is important because seniors have a greater risk of dehydration. Consider bringing energy bars, sliced fruit and nuts – much better than airline pretzels.
Loose, comfortable clothing lowers your risk of heat stroke and can reduce the risk of blood clots when you’re standing or sitting for long periods of time as well. If you’ll be on a lengthy flight, or are driving for long periods, consider wearing compression stockings to improve circulation in your lower legs. Also, whether flying or driving, keep moving. One of the big risks for senior travelers and travelers with disabilities is blood clots. Stand, stretch, wiggle, and move around whenever possible. If the seatbelt sign stays on and you can’t get up and move around, work on moving your legs, rolling your feet, and stretching your toes.
And above all, have fun and take lots of pictures to show your neighbors here at The Range!