Is the beach calling your name? Planning on attending a big family reunion? If you’re a retired senior, chances are travel is on the To Do list this summer. Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile this season, keep these important health and safety tips in mind:
Keep Your Medicines With You
If you are flying, forget about packing your medicine in your checked luggage! You can never guarantee that it will absolutely make it to you perfectly intact and on time. It’s your best bet to pack all medicines in your carry-on luggage and bring along extra prescription information just in case you need to get a refill while you are away from home. Put all your pill bottles in a large resealable bag so they’re all kept together and safe from moisture.
Upgrade Your Mobility Aid
If you use a mobility aid like a walker or cane, consider upgrading to a more travel-friendly version for your trip. Examples of support equipment that are adaptable for travel include folding canes and portable travel walkers. Being able to minimize the amount of room your mobility aid takes up while you are not using it is a must for the somewhat cramped seating you find on long car trips or airplane rides.
Download Your Airline’s App
Does travel increase your stress levels? Worry about one less thing like keeping track of your boarding pass or checking to see what gate you’re at by downloading your airline’s app to your smartphone or tablet. All major airlines have an app that allows you to access your mobile boarding pass, track flight times, check gate numbers, see the status of your plane and more.
Stick With Your Routine (More or Less)
While going on a new adventure is certainly about spicing up the everyday schedule you’re used to, don’t let your routine completely fall to the wayside. Sticking with similar waking and bedtimes as well as sneaking in your daily nap, if you take one, will keep you well-rested so that you have the energy and strength you want on your trip.
Pack Healthy Snacks
Did you know that you can bring food with you if you’re going on a plane trip? Most foods are allowed through security (depending on their liquid content) - you can find out more info on the TSA website. This allows you to chomp on healthy items like carrot sticks, whole grain chips, dried fruit, nuts, and cheese sticks and avoid the high-sugar, high-sodium foods common to many airport vendors (and gas stations, if you’re taking a road trip). Skipping the salty, fried, and fatty snacks before a trip will ensure you don’t feel bloated or lethargic while traveling.
Don’t Forget to Exercise
Going on trips that take you far from home, like on a cruise, can make it easy to let exercise fall down the priority list. It’s important to keep moving while you travel especially when you end up eating out more and your diet fills up with fattier more decadent foods than you typically eat. It’s easy to incorporate exercise when traveling without hitting the gym - try walking up and down stairs instead of taking elevators, pack a set of resistance bands and strength train in your room, go swimming, put on your dancing shoes and visit a social club, the ideas are endless.
Don’t let long trips leave your body aching. Too often, long car trips or flights leads to hip, back, and neck pain. Prevent these classic muscle strains by utilizing ergonomic seat cushions and neck pillows that help align the spine, distribute weight and support some of the most vulnerable areas in your body. You may also find it helpful to wear an eye mask and ear plugs when sleeping on your trip to keep out excess light and noise while you rest.
Do you have special dietary needs to keep in mind? Do mobility issues affect how you get around? Plan ahead for the unexpected by contacting your airline and the lodging where you are staying to check on mobility assistance and accessibility, food options for various dietary needs, and so forth. A quick phone call can go a long way in making sure you are both safe and comfortable when traveling.
Traveling is one of the best ways for seniors to explore, learn new things, and stay active! As a responsible older adult, however, you do want to make sure that you have advanced directives in order before you take a long trip. Take time before you leave to check (or set up) a living will and input medical ID information into your smartphone or luggage so it’s easy to access in the event of an emergency.