Although all travelers should plan carefully to ensure health and safety, older loved ones have a few extra concerns to consider.
- It’s a good idea to consult with your travel agent for suggestions – many tour operators specialize in accommodating the needs of elderly loved ones and traveling seniors.
- Take time before your trip to research local medical facilities in the areas you’ll be visiting.
- This is applicable to anyone going on a trip – take time to research factors such as culture, language, and climate. Purchase a guide book and read it before you go.
- Organize any equipment or special accommodations you will need beforehand, including seating needs, wheelchairs, and guide dogs.
- Should you have significant health concerns, it’s best to arrange to go on a package tour.
Consider a Pre-Trip Medical Check-Up
- This is particularly necessary for seniors who have pre-existing health issues. We recommend consulting with your doctor for a complete medical check-up before departing on your trip. This is especially important if you have hypertension, coronary heart disease, or have recently suffered a heart attack or undergone surgery.
- Be sure to discus any particular health concerns you may have, including dietary changes (and how different eating habits may affect your condition).
- Should you have diabetes, you’ll want to discuss safely staggering medications to fit a different time zone with your healthcare professional.
- Make sure you are up to date on all current vaccinations, including pneumonia and flu shots.
- If you are intending to travel to areas where infectious diseases are present, ensure you are fully vaccinated.
- Visit any other healthcare providers you consult with regularly, including optometrists and dentists.
Medications & Traveling
It’s critical that older individuals plan and travel carefully, taking account for any pre-existing medical conditions to ensure they are well managed. Here are a few specific suggestions that are related to medicine.
- Make sure you bring enough medication with you to last the entire trip –many drugs are not available overseas.
- Bring a written and signed note from your doctor that details your prescriptions and the medicines you are bringing with you.
- Should you purchase medicine overseas, the dosages may be different than the brands you are familiar with.
- We recommend bringing enough syringes to last the length of your trip.
- If you plan on traveling overseas, obtain and wear a medical alert bracelet or some form of identification that contains medical details of your condition should you need urgent help.
Packing and Luggage
- We recommend using a suitcase with wheels, it’s easier to handle.
- Pack a spare pair of glasses.
- Pack a pillbox with different compartments for different days of the week – being away from home may disrupt your usual routine and you want to avid forgetting to take medicine.
- Pack a medical carry on kit of necessary – these items should include your regular medications, painkillers, band-aids, and antacids, whatever else required.
Extra TLC for Seniors on Vacations
- If possible, plan another day or two to recover from jet lag.
- Be sure to drink bottled water only.
- Avoid seafood, undercooked meats, peeled raw fruits and vegetables, food buffets, unpasteurized dairy products, and street vendor meals.
- If the weather is hot, anticipate many rest breaks and avoid following a jam-packed itinerary.
- Be aware that senior cards and identification may not just provide benefits within your own home state—sharing these cards at attractions and museums may get you a discount or cheaper entry.
Additional Safety Suggestions
- Be mindful that many pickpockets and thieves consider older people easier targets. To avoid trouble avoid traveling at night.
- Do not wear or display valuable jewelry.
- Credit cards, traveler’s cheques and other valuable items should be worn under clothes, on a belt, or next to the skin.
- Consider carrying a fake or “dummy” wallet containing a small amount of cash. Should you be confronted by a mugger, hand over the dummy.
We hope you find those travel tips helpful – please browse our other senior care articles and resources and be sure to share with friends and family. From Better Health for Women, we wish you safe and happy travels.