Get Your Suitcase Packed! We've Got Some Long-Distance Travel Tips for Seniors

November 12, 2021

Where is the Best Place for Seniors to Travel in their Old Age?

Many seniors cherish the desire to still see something of the world -- especially in the recent COVID times. Many are already planning the next major trip -- whether on their own or with friends. If you pay attention to an extra few things when traveling in old age, you can enjoy your vacation without a care in the world.

Travel offers for older travelers used to be called “Golden Age Club” or "Best Age Journeys." Today we’re living longer, are healthier, and better equipped to see the world.  These days, you’re more likely to see "Vitality Club” travel offers for seniors on your travel agent’s website! 

The travel itinerary has also changed. The evening bingo game used to be the highlight of the day on many trips for seniors. Today there’s are excursions, cooking, and dance classes, cultural and language study, and perhaps even the chance for a sunset romance in Paris, or maybe even Minsk

Regardless of your destination, you have questions. We get that. Hmm, do any of these questions look familiar?

  • What air travel risks exist for the elderly?
  • Is it safe for the elderly to fly during the COVID pandemic?
  • What flight assistance do airlines provide for elderly passengers?
  • Is it safe for a 90-year-old to fly?
  • What are the best road trips to make with seniors?
  • How do I best travel with my elderly parent?
  • How do I plan a road trip with my elderly parent?
  • What are the recommended driving times for older adults?

Before setting out to any long-distance destination, you should check with your doctor and your family. They can advise you and will be happy to know where you are going. That said, however, there are precautions you should take after a certain age for the sake of your health.

Preparing Seniors for Long-Distance Travel

A travel prep list for seniors doesn’t look so very different than it would for anyone. Regardless of age, medical considerations are always at the top of everyone’s travel plan.

  • a checkup at the doctor
  • refresh vaccinations
  • medication check & extra
  • thrombosis precaution (for long-distance flights)
  • break plan
  • travel documents and tickets
  • reservation confirmations (printed out as well as on a device)
  • sufficient insurance coverage
  • emergency contact numbers
  • pet and plant care
  • snacks, water
  • device chargers
  • extra pair of glasses
  • Travel insurance

“The first step is to assess their medical issues. Sometimes adult children have not kept up to date on their parents’ health details. Especially when living in different regions of the country, they may hear only about primary health concerns. Poor ambulation, incontinence, forgetfulness are all topics that seniors prefer not to discuss, but they can affect travel. If addressed appropriately, though, they need not be impediments.” Special Needs Alliance

Do Seniors Need Special Documents for Traveling?

Yes! Though in principle, seniors do not need any other documents when traveling than any other traveler. The documents to be carried depend primarily on the destination. For travel outside of the USA you will need your passport, and for many countries possibly a visa. Some countries also now require an electronic entry permit (ESTA or eTa) which must be obtained before the start of the trip.

In addition to entry documents, seniors should make sure they carry all relevant insurance documents. This includes travel cancellation insurance and international health coverage -- which may be bundled together. 

Some countries require certain vaccinations, without which entry will be denied. For some time now, travel requires a COVID vaccination certificate.  Make an extra copy of this and keep it in your luggage. 

Renting a car at your destination? You may need to obtain an international driver's license in advance -- this varies from country to country. 

Seniors with disabilities should be sure to have their disability cards with them. In addition to proof of disability, they receive discounts in many countries.

Tips for Seniors Planning to Take a Long Drive

Your state and country are pretty big places. Have you seen everything closer to home? You might like to save the crowded airports and bumpy flights. You probably have a car, or we bet your kids do, right? Then how about a Staycation? 

The recommended driving times for seniors are going to be a point for hearty discussion along the way! Regardless of your age, for every 4.5 hours driving you should take breaks amounting to 45 minutes. 

Drive 45 minutes then take a 15-minute breather. Switch drivers, stretch your legs, stop for gas, or a selfie along the way. Remember – the journey is half the fun! 

Maybe you aren’t driving. Perhaps you’re planning a tour bus through Tuscany? You will still want to know about opportunities to stretch your legs, use the facilities, or make a call to check in with loved ones along the way.

“Seniors are reported to follow safety precautions while driving better than any other age group. From using seat belts to keeping speed limits in check, seniors are known to exhibit safe driving behaviors. Driving is good for seniors too! It helps them stay fit, independent, and connected with their loved ones. However, driving is a complex task that requires healthy cognition and good flexibility.” The Silver Lining

Are you sharing the driving with your parent? Even if you aren’t yourself a senior, you should know that aging is a gradual process. Senses such as vision and hearing deteriorate from the age of 50! Especially for people with a disease or disability, driving becomes critical regardless of age.

Our Safe Driving Guide for every age:

  • Don’t drive at peak times.
  • Avoid busy traffic arteries.
  • Don’t drive in bad weather.
  • Avoid driving at dusk or night.
  • Plan long distances well and stop frequently.
  • Regularly check the vehicle.
  • Don’t drive when you feel sick, angry, or depressed.
  • Keep regular medical check-ups.
  • Refresh driving skills regularly.

A problem not related to age is that most of us are unable to assess our driving ability properly. Sound familiar? Backseat drivers, right? That's why not only seniors need to be regularly tested to check their ability to drive.

Regardless of Your Travel Destination, Keep These Age-Related Changes in Mind

  • Mobility: Muscle strength, agility, flexibility, and mobility diminish over the years. Driving ability should be reduced accordingly.

  • Vision: Around 90% of the information that is important when driving is absorbed by the eye. Old eyes need more time to form a clear image. The field of vision becomes narrower, and visibility deteriorates at dusk or night. 

  • Concentration: The elderly tire more quickly and need more time to recover. Reduced attention and concentration can create problems, especially in complex traffic situations.

  • Reaction Time: Reaction time generally decreases with age. When quick reactions are required, driving errors can occur.

Just Let Active Senior Citizens Do Their Thing!

There are a wide variety of travel offers for seniors tailored to their needs. From relaxing wellness vacations to hiking trips in the mountains to city breaks or travel to strange new lands, the range of offerings from various tour operators is extensive.

Traveling allows us to make new contacts as well as enjoy time with our old friends and family. Especially for seniors who live alone, traveling is a good way to refresh their social life. Especially in old age, however, good preparation for the trip is a must.

Do a travel check with your family doctor.

Depending on your travel destination, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor in advance. You should clarify these points with them:

  • Tropical climate: Ask your doctor! Can pre-existing conditions, for example, heart disease and elevated blood pressure, become worse with the heat or high humidity? 

  • Long-haul flights: There is a risk of thrombosis, especially on long-haul flights. Do you need special thrombosis stockings prescribed by your doctor? 

  • Mobility: Wheelchair users and people with walking difficulties, including those with walkers, should find out in advance about the conditions at the airport and the vacation destination. 

  • Pacemakers: Find out what special regulations apply at airports concerning cardiac pacemakers at the security check. 

  • Diabetics: Coordinate a plan for the vacation with your doctor, because in the hotel or during a city tour, mealtimes and nutrition can change spontaneously. 

“Not all senior travelers have special needs. Some are as active as younger family members. As someone at the edge of the senior citizen category, the last thing I want to do is slow down and take it easy. If you have a loved one like me, go ahead and tackle those long-distance hikes in national parks.” Traveling Mom

Will you be traveling again soon? As always, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter if you found this on social media and get back to living your best life!

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