Senior Center

Planning a Vacation

By Jan Bolder - January 27, 2014

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For seniors, planning a vacation isn't as easy as when they were young adults. Instead of throwing a couple of outfits into a backpack, sleeping overnight on a train or bus and getting by on a few hours' sleep, seniors need to look at comforts and amenities more closely.

Health and Travel Insurance

Seniors who vacation out of the country need to make sure their health and travel insurance is up-to-date, just in case anything happens. Getting ill or injured can be extremely costly, and having good coverage offers peace of mind. Ask fellow travelers for tips on getting a good price and excellent coverage, and don't be afraid to shop online for quotes. Make sure that all conditions are disclosed to get the most specific policy possible, avoid buying plans that cover things you may not do, like skydiving or fast driving, and always bring along a full copy.

Preparation

Each vacation requires a different kind of mindset and way to approach it. For example, a vacation in Africa means getting various immunizations, while a trip to the beach means knowing how to swim. Vacations are supposed to be a time to relax, but it can be difficult to achieve that going from zero to 60 in a couple of days.

Know Thyself

A trip to Paris can be an amazing place to see some of the world's best architecture, but its cobbled paths and preference for stairs over elevators mean that walking is the main way of getting around. Seniors with mobility issues, like arthritis or joint pain, may not be able to tolerate being on their feet so much, and need a spot where alternate modes of transportation are readily available.

Research the Area

Will the hotel have handrails, wide hallways for wheelchairs, and no-slip showers or tubs? Are there rooms available on the first floor or near elevators? Are the pools and hot tubs easy to get into? Do the hotels have round-the-clock staff that are skilled in senior needs? Do buses or vans stop at the hotel, and do they stop at activities or hot spots? How close are medical institutions?

Packing

It's important to look not just at the climate of the vacation city when packing, but also at what needs to be brought along and what the TSA will frown upon. Medications are essential items, but check with your doctor and TSA regulations to see if you need a note to accompany them, as some may be illegal in other countries. Also check how to pack and stow medical equipment, and which non-medical equipment is available in the city traveled to.

In terms of packing method, save space by rolling clothes, putting socks and underwear into shoes or cases, protect soaps and shampoos from leaking by using Ziploc bags, and leave room for souvenirs.

Activities

Some seniors are okay with flying by the seat of their pants once they alight, while some prefer to arrive to a schedule of planned activities. Whatever your style is—especially if it's the latter—make sure it's taken care of in advance. Picking out tours and activities can be easily done online with a few clicks of the mouse, and offers incredible peace of mind knowing that everything's waiting and all you have to do is get there.

Companions

Lastly, choosing who to go with is almost as crucial as choosing where to go. It's important to make personalities fit, not clash, so choose someone who has a similar outlook to yourself. If your best friend likes an early night in while you think sleep is for the dead, it may not be a good fit. Likewise, if you prefer to know exactly where your food comes from but your companion will try anything once, that might not be the best fit, either. Just make sure to pick someone similar or someone who's willing to compromise.