Age should never be a barrier to enjoying travel.
People who are retired may prefer to embark on a journey with their loved ones or else hire travel companions to assist them during their trip. Whether you’re a senior or a trip companion for an older adult, follow these six travel recommendations to make your adventures memorable.
6 Tips for Senior Travel With a Companion
1. Pick the Right Mode of Transport
Let’s consider the most convenient transport modes for seniors: cars, trains, and airplanes.
Car – Going on a road trip can be a superb idea for seniors traveling with their companions. You can have more privacy and comfort and take as many things as you need. However, be aware of any unsafe driving tendencies in elder drivers.
Train – The majority of trains guarantee priority seating for older adults who need special assistance. Seniors often receive discounts from most train companies as well.
- Airplane – Statistically, air travel is the fastest and the safest mode of transportation. In fact, flying is 1,700 times safer than traveling by car.
Some airlines allow priority boarding for seniors. You may ask for senior discounts, too. For example, United Airlines can offer a discount if you choose “Senior 65+” when booking a ticket.
Note that the screening procedures at airport security checkpoints may be slightly different for seniors with medical devices (unsafe for a metal detector) or mobility aids like a cane, a wheelchair, or a walker.
Contact the TSA via a special hotline for air travelers with disabilities or medical conditions to learn more.
2. Consider Travel Health Insurance Options
Typically, you receive Medicare coverage when traveling within the United States, with some nuances if you have a Medicare Advantage plan. But what about overseas?
When traveling abroad as a senior, it’s important to know that Medicare does not provide coverage outside the U.S.
In that case, “choosing travel health insurance may be a smart move for an elderly person traveling with a companion,” says Anthony Martin, founder and CEO of Choice Mutual. “It covers the costs of numerous emergency medical treatments on a trip and gives you the peace of mind to enjoy the journey being ready for the unexpected.”
3. Double-Check Your Travel Documents
Here’s a list of documents you might need to prepare:
- Driver’s license
- Senior Citizen ID Card
- Hotel reservation confirmation
- Medical documentation (medical marijuana card, prescriptions, certificates, etc.), which should clearly explain why you are traveling with certain medical supplies (syringe and needle, for instance)
Note that some airlines may want to check a medical certificate if you have a large quantity of medication. It’s also a must to have a certificate if you take more than 100ml of medicine in gel or liquid form.
4. Stock up With Food and Water
Caregivers traveling with older companions should take nutrition and hydration under their control during any extended trip.
Based on nutrition requirements for older adults, people aged 51 and older should consume the following amount of calories per day, depending on their activity level:
- Men: 2,000–2,800 calories
- Women: 1,600–2,200 calories
You may now wonder how much water to drink in a day so that you and your traveling companion can stay properly hydrated.
During flights or other travels, to keep an adequate hydration level, women should drink around 72 ounces of water per day, and men about 104 ounces daily.
5. Pack Wisely
For seniors traveling with companions, divide the packing process into two steps. First, pack the most essential things, and then move on to other items.
Along with carry-on bag basics, older people traveling with companions may keep in mind the following checklist of essential items:
- Cash, credit card, and/or medical credit card
- Money belt
- Smartphone and chargers
- Travel blanket and pillow
Other important items may depend on the type of journey you are taking.
“Active seniors typically prefer active traveling,” says Kevin Le Gall, owner and lead editor at Climbing House. “That is why it is advisable to prepare all the necessary gear for different activities during the trip.”
For example, if you are planning a senior yoga retreat, consider making extra space for your yoga mat.
“Older adults may also want to make their journey more entertaining with such items as crosswords or books,” Le Gall adds.
For seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it may be necessary to wear a GPS tracker or an ID bracelet.
6. Prioritize Comfort
Comfort for seniors who are traveling is key as well, according to Tim White, founder of milepro.
“Travel comfort should be the top priority for older adults and their caregivers,” White says. “Scrolling through hotel and destination reviews, you should focus on senior-friendly accommodations with elevators and ramps. Additionally, you may inquire about special services for seniors: nearby medical facilities, wheelchair rentals, and transportation.”
Traveling, no matter what your age, can be a highly enriching experience if you approach it with careful consideration and planning.
Nancy Mitchell is a registered nurse and contributing writer for AssistedLivingCenter.com She has over 37 years experience in geriatric nursing care. Both as a senior care nurse and director of nursing care.