Going to visit a loved one – never travelled alone – off to explore… Getting older or reduced mobility does not mean we cannot keep travelling and exploring new places. UK or abroad there is a wide choice of accessible holidays and providers. So after all the excitement of deciding you are going, now comes the planning – here are a few hints and tips to ensure a fun, safe & comfortable time.
1. Plan ahead
A) Get insurance! Whilst travel insurance is important for everyone it truly is essential for older travellers who are more at risk of falling or hurting themselves, getting ill or needing extra medication if travel is delayed.
B) Going somewhere you have not been before, it is a good idea to check if there are any customs/immigration or regulations you need to apply to. The flight attendant will be able to answer question and help you fill out forms.
C) Make sure your passport is up to date.
D) Staying somewhere new, check accessibility to the accommodation and getting around your room. Booking through your local travel agent, ensure you let them know your requirements and you can always contact the resort/hotel direct to confirm.
E) Allow extra time to get to the train station, airport, connections. There are likely to be lots of other travellers and finding your way to the right platform or gate may take a little time. Travel is part of the adventure so give yourself time to get there and enjoy it, people watching can be a lot of fun too. If you need extra assistance or wheelchair access, it is always a good idea to call ahead to ensure you arrive at the right entrance.
F) Keep hydrated and have a few handy snacks too. Depending on the mode of transport, you may be able to buy food whilst you travel but having a few things you like to hand is easy to do – for example nuts, dried fruit, cereal bar, hard sweets. Make sure they are secured in a small container and do not exceed travel operator restrictions on volume.
G) Think about how much you need to take – experienced travellers learn to pack light. If you do need to take a lot, ensure you luggage is easy for you to move – a suitcase with wheels. Your hand luggage should have all the essentials you need for the duration of your travel – consider a spare pair of glasses too.
2. Take care of yourself while on holiday
You have arrived and have lots you want to see and do – or maybe not, but allow yourself a couple of days to adjust. Jet lag can be hard on your body and disrupt sleep patterns. Keep hydrated and if you are unsure on the local water supply, drink bottled water and when you wash your teeth!
Try not to let others demands to do things effect what you want to do – a jam packed itinerary and you will be ready for another holiday when you get home!
Watch what you eat – as we get older, our tummies can become more sensitive. Be mindful of heavy or spicy foods and any conflict with medications.
Stay safe on your feet – off exploring for the day wearing comfortable shoes is not only sensible but will also keep you steady on your feet.
Travel safe – it is not a good idea to have your valuables with you at all times, only take what you need with you and leave the rest safe where you are staying. And remember, a smartphone can take pretty good photos nowadays.
3. A few extra safety precautions
- Keep medicines handy… have a couple of days’ worth in your hand luggage so it will be with you all the time. Travel plans can get disrupted or delayed.
- If travelling across different time zones it can be easy to lose track of what to take when, so having medication in specific named day sets will ensure you maintain your routine.
- Print and share your travel plans, keeping them handy with you. Let the people you are visiting know your schedule and perhaps a friend or neighbour whilst you are away should they need to contact you in an emergency.
- It’s a really good idea to have a copy of your passport, travel visa, insurance and any relevant medical notes in your hand luggage in case your checked luggage gets mislaid.
- Travelling long haul, choose an aisle seat so you can stretch out your legs and easily get up and move around without disturbing those around you. Travelling with someone, how about having an aisle seat opposite each other to keep you close but enable your own mobility.
- Stand and stretch often! One of the most critical risks for senior travellers is DVT or deep vein thrombosis – it can cause death during and after a long flight simply because a person did not move about or stretch often. Chat with your doctor before flying. They may recommend you take half an aspirin (150mg) on the day of your flight or suggest you wear compression stockings during the flight.Flying for many hours, it’s critical to wriggle, stretch, stand, and move about when you can. Even if the seatbelt sign remains on – and you aren’t supposed to get up and stroll about the aisles, you can stretch your toes up and back, rotate your ankles, bend your knees. Avoid crossing your legs.
A travel company can help you to organise your accessible accommodation, flights, transfer, equipment hire and more. If you have decided to book direct, do check with your Airline as their services do vary. Priority boarding, accessible seating, wheelchair provision – it is important to ask how they will be able to help with your particular needs. Here are some helpful links: