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Flying Tips for Senior Travellers

Just about everyone regardless of age loves taking foreign trips but as most seasoned travellers know all too well, it can be arduous on your body especially if you are a senior traveller. Some of us may grumble about cramped airline seats or simply becoming disoriented from navigating our way through airports so here are some top tips to help make your trip journey more pleasant:

See Your Doctor Beforehand

If you are taking a long trip and have any serious pre-existing medical conditions, see a doctor before going abroad just to make sure you are fit to travel. Remember the change in climate, air pressure of flying and time zones can be stressful on your body and risky if you take prescribed medication. Even if it is just for your peace of mind check with your doctor before finalising travel plans, so you have the most up to date prescription and if required by your airline, a medical certificate for any medication carried in your hand baggage.

Travel Insurance to cover flight delays

Check your travel insurance provider covers things such as journey disruption, missed departure/connection and even airspace closure. What would you do if your car broke down on the way to the airport or, if you intended travelling to the airport by train and there was strike, how would you claim for any pre-paid holiday travel costs if you missed your flight.

Specialist travel insurance for seniors covers all the things you need to make sure your holiday gets off to a good start. If you are travelling within Europe make sure your EHIC is in date. The card is not an alternative to travel insurance and it will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs such as being flown back to the UK. Therefore, it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid travel insurance policy.

Plan ahead and make arrangements with the airline

If you have a medical condition that requires you to have a certain seat position such as extra leg room, window or isle seat or if you have mobility difficulties and use a wheel chair let the airline know as far in advance as possible. Most commercial airlines will bend over backwards to accommodate you and help you to get the most appropriate seat on the plane for your particular needs. However check with your airline to make sure there are no extra costs for providing this service.

Dress for comfort

Dressing practically for the plane will allow you to feel comfortable and relaxed during the flight and more refreshed when you get to your final destination. You may not be the most glamorous passenger boarding, but just wait until you get there. There is nothing worse than spending the majority of the flight time adjusting your clothing because you wanted to look smart for your holiday. I always find:

  • Comfortable, slip-on shoes won’t hinder you when clearing airport security – these are also helpful when it’s time to go to sleep on the plane and you want to kick off your shoes.
  • Compression socks/stockings are really useful during and after your flight for preventing you from getting deep vein thrombosis or if you already have a DVT, they will assist with the increase of blood flow in your legs and feet to aid the reduction of any stiffness and swelling.
  • Wear soft cotton and loose clothing rather than anything rough or heavy. It is uncomfortable enough sitting on a plane without having to feel the constant scratch of thick material. If travelling in the winter months you will need the layers for outside but remember, when sitting on a plane for a long haul flight you will get warm very quickly. Think about how bulky your winter clothing is and if you will be able to store it easily when flying.
Take a neck pillow and a travel blanket

Banish those mid-air chills with a fleecy travel blanket to keep you snuggled up during a night flight. Most pillows provided by airlines are not always effective especially if you have a pre-existing neck condition. If you are prone to stiffness why not buy your own inflatable pillow so you get the support you need and better still, you can deflate it and use it again for the next flight. There are many flight accessories out there now either online or at travel shops and it’s good to shop around for the best deals.

Stay hydrated

The air conditioning inside an aeroplane can dry your skin and eyes out terribly. If you suffer with a skin condition take your prescribed skin cream in a small container so that you can use it during the flight. Eyes drops are great if you wear contact lenses and lip balm will avoid cracked lips. If you manage to fall asleep, it’s always nice to freshen up before breakfast with some products that put the elasticity back in your face. Back this up by drinking lots of water, fruit juices and herbal teas but not so much that you spend the whole flight going to the toilet. Remember, alcohol will not hydrate you only dehydrate you further.

Pack your own food

If you have diabetes and need regular snacks it is worth stocking up before you leave home as airport food can be notoriously expensive. If you like to snack and nibble while you’re travelling pack your own but remember, don’t take bottles of liquid as it will be confiscated at security screening. Pressurised containers will need to be opened before you take off, otherwise they could burst. Why not use small sealable freezer bags, this way you re-seal what you don’t want for the return flight.

Practical luggage

A travel bag on wheels makes the world of difference especially if you have mobility difficulties. Carrying a week’s worth of clothing and supplies around will be tiring even for the fittest person. If you need to borrow a bag for your journey, make sure it’s suitable for your needs and more importantly, it meets the size criteria for your airline. An identification strap is always worth considering as it will help your bag stand out from the rest and why not consider taking a small rucksack for your medication & snacks, but keep it on your back so that you know where it is at all times. Don’t be afraid to ask for help especially at the baggage reclaim if you have difficulty lifting things.

With reduced responsibilities and endless time on their hands, more & more senior people are being affected by the travel bug. Age shouldn’t stop you from exploring new travel destinations and making holiday memories. However, it is always worth spending just a small amount of time planning in advance to get the most out of your trip and to enable you to still have the energy to enjoy it.

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