My Mom started my sister and I on traveling at an early age. She took us to many different countries during our childhood and teenage years. Now, both my sister and I are older and don’t travel as much, but my Mom is still very active with her traveling. In recent years she has traveled to China and even Russia with her friends. In preparing for those trips, she has taught me many great tips to staying safe. People of all ages, including seniors, need to make sure they are safe when they travel, so here are 10 great tips I have learned from her over the years.
First, you want to know where you are going. Prior to leaving for her trip, my Mom studies the country she is going to be visiting. I asked her one day, before her trip to China, why she did that. She said she wanted to know not only the history of the country, but also local customs and traditions. Know your area before you get there. This way, in case you get lost, you are more familiar with the area.
It is better for some of the younger folks to accompany their elders if the duration of the trip is far too long because it is difficult for them to manage everything on their own and I plan to do the same with mom from now onwards as she is getting on with age. There are many such people in my family and if anyone is interested, they can come join the Lewiston Senior Citizens on our fun and new trips that I am sponsoring.
Another great tip that goes along with reading about the country you are visiting, is learning about the country’s language or languages. The more you learn prior to visiting your destination, the safer you will be. For example, learning the difference between men and women’s restrooms will save you a lot of embarrassment. The more prepared you are prior to your visit the smoother it should go.
Traveling with a group is the safest way to travel. Check with your local senior center or travel agency for senior groups traveling to your destination of interest. Sometimes they will even have better rates, too. Staying with a large group makes it harder to get lost, and most important, if you have a health emergency, there are plenty of people there to help you.
If you are not comfortable going with a large group, it is always safer to have at least one friend go with you. My Mom had her best friend go with her to Paris, and they had a lot of fun. Since it was just the two of them, we were all worried about them, but not as much as if either had gone alone. They both kept tabs on each other and kept each other safe. Never travel alone.
If you take medications, make sure you keep them in their original prescription bottle. You will be stopped at customs if you have random pills in your luggage. It is always best to have a written list of all of your medications, doses and dose schedule just in case you have an unexpected visit to an emergency room. This way, the doctors know exactly what you are taking to prevent any drug interactions.
Another great tip for seniors when they travel is to print out multiple itineraries and give them to all family members. If possible, have the phone numbers to the hotels you will be staying at. If you are traveling with a senior group, have the contact information for the companies they are with or travel agency just in case an emergency happens while you are gone.
Before traveling overseas, make an appointment get a complete check up with your doctor. If you have a heart condition, food allergies or any other condition, make sure you get approval from your doctor before you fly or travel. You do not want a simple vacation trip to turn into a medical emergency.
If you have a special diet, diabetics for example, call ahead to your airline to make sure they have special meals and to reserve them for your seat number.
One item that is easily forgotten is insurance. Plan a call to your agent and ask what is covered when you travel. You will want to make sure you are covered if your luggage is lost and, most importantly, that you will have liability insurance in case something happens. You do not want your life savings taken away from you because you had an unfortunate incident happen on vacation.
Never carry cash. Travelers Cheques are the best way to spend money while on vacation. Unlike cash, if your Travelers Cheques are stolen, they can be replaced.
My last tip is to always carry some sort of food in your purse or bag when you travel. Traveling to a foreign country, or even two states over, you will always want to carry a little snack in your bag just in case something happens. If you are on a plane, you can always ask the stewardess for a package of peanuts or pretzels, but what if you are out on a hike, or car ride out in the middle of nowhere and you feel woozy? My Grandmother always carried a sugar cube in her purse just in case her blood sugar started to drop and nothing was in the area. This is excellent advice for anyone.