Whatever your age may be, travel proves to be a truly incredible experience that exposes us to natural beauty, diverse cultures and unforgettable sights. However, as we get older, our needs and capabilities do change, and these need to be considered as we explore the globe. If you’re set to travel with an older companion, check out our top tips for travelling the elderly to help make your trip one that you both won’t forget in a hurry.
Purchase travel insurance
As with everyone, elderly travellers should purchase travel insurance before they leave Australia. Helping to avoid costly medical expenses overseas, travel insurance offers extra peace of mind and confidence to explore the globe.
Do your research
While young travellers are generally better equipped to cope with longer travel times and basic conditions, elderly travellers may find them rather uncomfortable. Spend time looking for the shortest travel times across all modes of transport you intend to use, research accommodation that is close to attractions and is fitted with elevators and air conditioning, and also opt for aisle seats on planes for easier mobility. If your travel companion has mobility issues, consider researching whether attractions and the transport offered in your planned destination are accessible.
Don’t over pack your itinerary
Although it may be tempting to jam-pack your itinerary with exciting activities and dozens of top attractions, it’s a good idea to remember that older people do get tired faster and that the time it takes to travel from one place to another may be longer than you anticipate. Slow down and savour the journey by choosing just a few activities for each day of travel, and be sure to allow enough time for getting from A to B, as well as recovering from jetlag.
Make luggage manageable
An overloaded suitcase is difficult for anyone to manage, but can be especially difficult for elderly travellers with mobility issues, low vision and other health issues. Consider purchasing a suitcase that is easy to manoeuvre and does not require much strength to move, such as a four-wheeled case, and be careful not to add extra weight by overpacking.
Dress appropriately for travel
To help make travelling more comfortable, advise your travel companions to wear loose-fitting clothing that won’t restrict the body in any way. Pack a light jumper and hat to accommodate any swift weather changes and opt for shoes that are easy to take off and put back on again if you’ll be heading to the airport. Research the average temperature of the destination you’re looking to visit and pack clothing that is best suited.
Keep health in check
Before heading off on your trip, it’s important that your elderly travel companions undertake a complete medical checkup. Those with some medical conditions may be advised not to fly for long periods of time, while others will need to take care so as to not exacerbate underlying health issues. If medications are needed to manage their health issues, it is wise to request a signed letter from their GP or specialist to explain its use to prevent any problems with customs down the line. Be sure to keep all medications in their original packaging and travel with a few extra doses in case of travel delays or other unforeseen events.
Carry water and snacks where possible
Staying hydrated is important, so try and carry water with you, especially when the weather is warm or you intend to do a fair amount of walking. In some countries, it’s safer to drink bottled water than the general water supply, so do a little research before you depart. Also think about carrying some snacks with you as some medications need to be taken with food and they can also offer a welcome energy boost.
Keep comfort in mind
Comfort when travelling is important for all travellers, especially the elderly. With more chronic aches and pains than their younger counterparts, items such as neck pillows help to make travelling a better experience for older people. If elderly travellers plan to take to the skies, compression stockings offer increased comfort and help to reduce the chances of deep vein thrombosis occurring, while transport with bathroom facilities can also help to make a trip more comfortable.
Have fun and make plenty of memories
Whether it’s their first time travelling or their fiftieth, make the effort to ensure that your travel companion will be able to visit attractions and destinations that they want to see. Sit down and do some research together and find travel experiences that you both find interesting and exciting. Assist them with mobility and other special needs, but be sure to give them the chance to be independent and soak up the sights and sounds of your destination, and, most importantly, have fun!