You are above 60 and want to travel? No problem. Many tour operators are organising trips exclusively for senior citizens. Senior citizens have time and money to indulge in travel to unknown destinations, something they would have missed during their young days. They do not lag behind in the quest for adventure. If anything, they are more enthusiastic. Retirement also brings along the wake-up call for the person to spend more time with the family. Moreover, one finds holiday trips being increasingly planned for a family unit with one or two senior citizens in tow, especially in these times where youngsters stay away from their parents on account of global education and job opportunities. Such trips are fun as they bring the family closer but for the fun to last, one has to keep in mind certain precautions to be taken while travelling with seniors.
If elders are travelling alone, it would be wise to opt for trips organised exclusively for senior citizens. Try and make a thorough check of the geography of the place of visit. This is absolutely essential, as you could pack the gear according to the climatic conditions. Make sure to check about the medical facilities available, so that if there is need for some medical attention, you know where to get it. If the travel destination requires compulsory vaccinations, inoculate the senior well in advance, so that he/she doesn’t experience unpleasant reactions during the tour.
Also, give attention to details like organising travel insurance with cover for pre-existent medical conditions and asking for wheelchair arrangements at airports, if necessary. If seniors are travelling with family, one of the youngsters can take care of these matters.
Have a complete medical check-up done
Once the holiday venue has been finalised and tickets, visas, hotel bookings and so on have been arranged, the next step would obviously be a medical check-up. This is especially essential if seniors have problems like coronary heart disease, hypertension, or any other chronic condition, or if they have recently undergone surgery. A diabetic person will need medical advice on how to safely stagger their medications to fit a different time zone. In case of seniors, it is also imperative that they make a visit to the dentist and the optometrist. Any person with a regular intake of medicines for a specific ailment would need a letter of explanation from the doctor to be carried along with the medicines.
Pack your bags with care
A difficult assignment indeed. The haphazard way of packing some essentials for a trip may have been alright when one was young, but packing for a senior citizen requires some thought. First of all, pick a bag with wheels to reduce the strain on their back. Clothes, warm woollens or cool cottons, and footwear should be packed after taking into consideration the climatic condition of the place. It would be wise to pack an extra pair of spectacles. A separate hand baggage should contain all the items that they may need on flight. It should also include a small medical kit with regular medications, painkillers, antacids and band-aids. Keep a list of telephone numbers of your closest kith and kin, doctor, travel agent, and the Indian Embassy [if you are travelling abroad]. This will facilitate quick action in case of emergencies.
Any passenger on a long flight with a pre-existent medical condition, which may require on-board medical attention is advised to inform the airline authorities before boarding the aircraft. Even in case of healthy seniors, certain necessary precautions should be taken, in order to avoid the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis [DVT]. Researchers believe that along with obesity and coronary heart disease, sitting still for an extended period of time could contribute to the formation of blood clots in the leg veins. They suggest that one should wear loose, comfortable clothing, completely avoid alcoholic drinks, smoking and even coffee, drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration, have a walk down the aisle once every hour if you are on a long flight and avoid crossing your legs while seated.
If you are prone to motion sickness, recline your seat and keep your head back. The reclining position usually helps in combating motion sickness. Many travellers complain of ear pain during take-off and landing. The pain is generally caused by the delay in equalisation of pressure between the middle ear and the atmosphere. The pain is more likely to occur in passengers who suffer from cold. Inflammation of the mucous membrane could block the Eustachian tube which connects the middle ear to the throat. This pain can be reduced by chewing gum, chocolates, swallowing, or even yawning, as these actions force air into the Eustachian tube. Using inhalers or nasal decongestants could also help to a certain degree.
Take care of yourself
Jet lag is a common occurrence and one has to keep aside a day or two to recover from it. So, plan your sightseeing schedules after the day of rest. One can try and get rid of jet lag with a few pre-departure measures.
- Set your wristwatch to your destination time two days before your flight.
- Try and sleep only when it will be night at the place where you disembark. This will help attune your body to the new sleeping hours.
- Eat light. It doesn’t matter if you miss some meals on flight but have lots of water and fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Drinking only bottled mineral water and avoiding street food during your vacation can go a long way in preventing travellers’ diarrhoea.
- Don’t plan a hectic schedule. This may result in you getting exhausted to such an extent that you may miss out on a couple of good trips.
And finally, travel as light as possible. Do not ever leave any baggage unattended at the airport. In case you lose some baggage, a delightful tour could turn out to be a nightmare, especially if that particular bag contains your travel documents.