Retired for 20 years since age 65, I’m very much a senior citizen and still an ardent world traveler. This year I’ve been to Cabo San Lucas, New York, Las Vegas and England. I recently moved from Arizona to Los Angeles by car, truck and air, and am still around to talk about it.
I’ll also be flying coast to coast during the upcoming holiday season. Additionally, I’m working up plans for a Caribbean cruise out of Miami next year to celebrate my 86th birthday. That’s what I said: age 86!
Am I slowing down at this very advanced age? Of course. It often seems, though the travel world keeps moving faster all the time, this senior seems to be schlepping a step behind. It happens to us all, and we need to compensate for it by being more aware of potential delays and safety hazards, especially when we travel during the holiday season.
I try to be careful on my journeys, and I often talk with other seniors about how we face the ordeals of travel in the age of airport body scanners, gridlock highways and airline seat squeezers. Some travel tips from those of us who know by experience may help when you’re in the same senior situation.
1. Maybe the first tip is to be realistic about your ability to travel alone in this and future holiday seasons. After running through endless walkways in airports for decades, I find I can’t do it any more. These days, I always fly with a younger companion, for safety and to wheelchair me to the waiting areas. I also get wheels for when we arrive at our destination airport, to make getting away from the insanity as quickly as possible and into a waiting cab or bus.
2. Try to stay calm, no matter what happens. This is easier said than done these days, especially during the crowded and confusing holiday season. The inevitable traffic jams while driving to the airport, the no-space airport parking lot are just the beginning of the usual problems of flying.
3. Get to the airport early this holiday season. If the airlines say make it two hours for international and one hour for domestic, try to obey the rule. That means you should be actually in the waiting room then, not still trying to park or waiting for a bus from the parking lot.
4. Travel light. Leave the big, bulky suitcase at home. Not only will you have to pay an extra $25 to $50 to some airlines to check the damned thing. After your flight lands, you’ll waste another hour fighting all the other passengers trying to find it on the carousel. Use a wheeled carry-on, and anything that doesn’t fit in it, your purse or pockets, leave the stuff at home.
5. Accident prevention is a serious concern for the senior traveler. Whether flying, driving or on a cruise ship, be extra careful about walkways, railings, steps and every situation where your uncertain footing can cause you to fall. Don’t rush for any reason, and if you’re shaky about getting from here to there, get help.
6. Traveling seniors should take every measure to be safe from crime wherever they travel. Senior tourists are vulnerable and perfect targets for thieves and muggers, especially in big city streets of the U.S., Europe and in the Far East. Never venture down strange streets alone, especially at night. Even if you plan to do holiday shopping, don’t walk around with large sums of cash on you, or flash it when making purchases.
When you travel during this busy holiday season, know your physical limits as a senior. In all situations, apply your basic common sense that allowed you to survive till this admirable age.