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Travel tips for the senior traveller

More senior people than ever before are leaving the comfort of their arm chair and finding out that age really doesn’t matter when it comes to travelling abroad and seeking out new holiday destinations.

Today sees more retired people travelling around the world and discovering new places to visit and for longer periods of time. Whether you are an experienced traveller, or you have been waiting all your life to take this one special trip, you want your holiday to be as safe and enjoyable as possible.

Going away on holiday should be an exciting time for everyone however as you get older, the thought of travelling abroad may raise extra concerns. To ensure you have a relaxing and enjoyable trip we would suggest planning well in advance to make sure you have covered all eventualities and left nothing unturned.

Here are some handy travel tips to help you along the way:

Plan ahead

If you are using a travel agent to book your travel arrangements, they will be able to provide you with lots of different useful information about your destination. Think about the best time of year to travel to your chosen destination, is it likely to be too hot for you to cope with and will it be busy with school children. One of the good things about being retired is that you can travel at your convenience and avoid the most exhausting heat and crowds.

Pack light

Lighten your load to make your journey more comfortable. Try to spread the weight evenly between your bags and don’t put all of your toiletries and heavy items in just one bag. Suitcases with wheels will make transporting your luggage much easier especially when all of the airport trolleys are in use. Check the weather in your holiday destination to make sure you are taking the appropriate clothes and perhaps use a laundry facility at your hotel or in town to reduce the amount of clothes you need to take. Make sure your glasses, hearing aid batteries, inhalers, pain killers, pens and crosswords are all in your hand luggage.

Make sure you are fit to travel

It’s a good idea to speak to your doctor before you finalise your travel plans just to make sure they are happy for you to travel abroad particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. At the same time you could ask your doctor to list all of your medical conditions as you still need to declare them to your travel insurance provider. If you have your medication on a repeat prescription, ask the doctor to sign this before you go to make sure you have enough and are not likely to run out.

Medications and health

If you need to carry medication in your hand luggage it is advisable to keep it in its original packaging and bring a medical certificate or note from your doctor with you, especially if syringes are included. Finding a pharmacy and completing a prescription in Europe isn’t necessarily difficult, but it can be time consuming and remember pharmacists overseas can be unfamiliar with UK brand names. Before you leave, ask your doctor for a list of the exact generic names of your medications and the names of any equivalent medications that may be recognisable abroad.

Travel insurance

Senior travel insurance is essential when travelling abroad to ensure you are fully protected should the unfortunate happen. Make sure you purchase a specialist travel insurance policy if you have any pre-existing medical conditions. Ensure you disclose all of your medical conditions as otherwise your travel insurance policy may be invalid and in the event of a claim you may not be covered. If you already have an annual multi trip policy, check the geographical areas included on your policy to make sure it covers all of your holiday destinations. You could apply for an EHIC if you are travelling within Europe as this is a good addition to your travel insurance but should at no time replace it. Check with your home insurance provider as they may be able to cover your baggage and personal effects, this could then reduce the travel insurance premium and save you some money.

Flying

If you’re not flying direct, check your bag into the hold because if you have to transfer to a connecting flight at a large busy airport, your hand luggage will weigh you down and wear you out. If you’re a slow walker or have mobility difficulties, request a wheelchair or an electric cart when you book your seat so you can easily make any connecting flights, as some departure gates can be a long way from the departure lounge. Wear loose comfortable clothes and invest in compression socks if going on a long haul flight, as these can prevent deep vein thrombosis. Invest in a travel pillow as this will aid your sleep and avoid waking with a stiff neck.

Keep hydrated

It is always nice to have a glass or two of your favourite alcoholic beverage to celebrate the start of a holiday but remember to drink plenty of water or fruit juices as well. These will ensure you stay well hydrated throughout your journey and avoid you from feeling unwell. A small supply of your favourite snacks will keep you going especially if you have any dietary requirements. If you suffer from dry eyes carry some eye drops with you as the air circulation system on board the aircraft could dry your eyes out and moisturiser will help to keep your skin hydrated.

Accommodation

No matter where you stay, ask about your accommodation’s accessibility before you book. Find out if it’s at the top of a steep hill, has a lift to all floors or just stairs. Request a ground floor room if stairs are a problem. Think about how long it will take to get there from the airport and will you need to carry your bags up a lane yourself as the airport transfer can’t access your accommodation from the main road.

Discounts

Always ask if senior discounts are available. If you are using public transport you may be able to travel for free at certain times of the day and if visiting museums, exhibitions and sight-seeing excursions, discounts may be available but may not be advertised so don’t be embarrassed to ask.

Travelling abroad should feel like the fountain of youth. Remember as a child the first time you saw the sea and the feeling of soft golden sand between your toes. What about the excitement as you arrive by aeroplane flying low over a small Greek island with the clear blue water enveloping the shore line. Can you remember arriving at your destination at night unable to see the local area and it isn’t until the morning that you draw back the curtains and ‘wow’ as you see the view in front of you. The warmth of the sun, fresh local food and a glass of wine at lunch time this is what holidays should be about and should be experienced by everyone no matter what their age.