We are going to hold off on making this purely an “age of Coronavirus” post. We are certainly in that age and it is meaningful, however, we aren’t writing *just* about that and instead looking to show smart ways to travel as a senior or if you are leaving a senior at home, whether during a pandemic or not.
Senior Safe Travel
To steal a little bit from whitewater kayaking: pretend you are worse than you are and prepare for worse than it’s going to be. To translate a little bit: even if you are the best kayaker in the world, you still need to plan for things going wrong and trying to be more safe than is necessary. This can be approaches to rapids or wearing more safety gear.
How this analogy applies is that it is common for people as they age to believe they aren’t as old as they are, that their cognitive functions and reaction times are still sharp, and that they can still see and hear as good as they could 40 years ago. Translation: I’m not old!
The problem that follows is in not preparing for trips and situations as if you aren’t as sharp as a 35-year-old often leads to very avoidable situations, such as getting lost, eating foods that make you sick, getting robbed, and getting into accidents. If you are 70, but prepare like you are 80, you’ll avoid so so many avoidable things.
The first thing we would recommend is some kind of medical alert device or wristband/pendant/watch/etc. You do not need to wear it where everyone can see if, if you find this to be embarrassing, but it is so critical to have one with you. Just like car insurance or AAA roadside assistance, you only want to have it if something goes wrong.
If you aren’t familiar with these products–and there are a lot of them on the market with variable pricing–and it can be hard to make heads or tails of this. One this page you are able to compare medical alert pendants side by side, and it’s a pretty good starting point to get familiar with all of the alert companies, their pricing, and their amenities.
Next, set up your smart phone to do all the things you need it to while on vacation. This will require a lot more effort if you are traveling outside of the country. If you need help, ask a young adult.
Essentially, you’ll want to program the addresses of every place you are staying or planning on visiting. Have all the applications that make sense for your trip, and use them several times before your trip so that you are comfortable.
If you have an iphone, use the Notes application to store your entire itinerary, including you lodging, air travel, etc. This application will always work, even if you don’t have cell or wifi service. You can show it to anyone to help you find your way.
Then share this itinerary with your family or close friends. If you happen to get lost or lose your phone, they know exactly where you are supposed to be and where you are headed. Then if you do lose your phone, you just need to get to a phone store and a new phone is ready with all the stuff from your old phone.
As you age, group travel becomes more and more necessary. It adds a level of security and safety and certainty. We don’t really have a dog in this fight, but here are 15 group travel companies that might be offering a trip you are interested in.
There are so many options these days that you likely won’t need to sacrifice you preferred way and modes of travel to fit into a group. There are many that stay for long periods of time in places, others that hit tons of spots, luxury, value, arts, metros, country, historical, etc. Find your dream.
Silly as it might sound, as you age you need different shoes to help you both with balance and with planting. Harvard Medical School has an excellent, must-read piece on why you need to have age-appropriate shoes, especially when you travel, to avoid falling unecessarily. If you can at least remove your shoes as the potential problem, you can eliminate most of the reasons for falling. Falling can be so difficult on an aging body, even when you fall at home or in familiar surroundings. If you fall when in another city or country–especially where they speak a different language–it can be very scary. Make the choice to remove this problem area and increase your safety as you travel.
I am a lifelong explorer and travel enthusiast. I've never been a certified travel agent, but I have multiple family members who were. I'm not necessarily plugged in to the latest travel vendors and exclusive packages, and I've never cared for the label "life coach," but I do think I have some wisdom to offer about how people can get the most of your their vacation time.