Recently (before COVID), I traveled to the British Virgin Islands with a group of friends ranging in age from 37-78 years. We chartered a catamaran, sailed to multiple islands, and went on several adventures. We all had a wonderful time, but I will say the elder members of the group had to take extra precautions and still encountered some difficult situations. Below, I have listed some do's and don’ts to follow when traveling as a senior or with a senior. Some of these should apply to the younger travelers as well!
Research Your Accommodations: Always make sure that your choice of accommodations is accessible. While staying in St. Thomas, prior to boarding our catamaran, we stayed in a hotel on a hill. There were several concrete staircases that were unevenly paved leading up to the check-in desk of the hotel. Unfortunately, one of our senior co-travelers took a fall up the steps. Luckily, he did not suffer any serious injuries.
Always Wear Comfortable Shoes: Wearing comfortable shoes is one of the suggestions that should apply to travelers young and older. You never know if you may have to walk an extra block to catch a cab or stand for an extended period.
Pack Snacks: Snacks are good to have if there is an unexpected delay in travel or mealtimes. Whether you have diabetes and need to ensure that blood glucose levels are stable, or you just get hungry, it always pays to have a good, healthy snack.
Pack Medications: Many seniors are on at least a few prescription medications, so these are especially important to include in the travel bag. Other over-the-counter medications that may be needed should be packed as well, especially when traveling to another country. Medications may not be as readily available in other towns or countries or they may be called by another name that is not recognized. Unfortunately, illnesses do not always come at opportune times.
Obtain Travel Insurance: This suggestion is another one that is good for the young and older travelers. Travel insurance can be helpful for emergency medical benefits, emergency transportation benefits, and other unexpected expenses including trip cancellation or stolen luggage.
Don't Be Overly Ambitious: Sometimes picking a less adventurous option is best for the older crowd. One of our excursions was visiting the Virgin Gorda Baths. Our older friends chose to have a spa day instead with relaxing massages, facials, and pedicures. The spa day was a great choice for the older members in our group because there were several challenges we encountered on our excursion, including swimming in a strong ocean current, climbing steep rocks and dirt trails, plus squeezing through some small and slippery crevices. We took lots of pictures for the others to enjoy our adventures!
Don't Get Into a Hurry: When you get into a hurry, you are more inclined to lose or forget something. Always remember to take in the scenery and enjoy every moment of your trip.
Don't Travel Alone: While taking some trips alone may be necessary, it is best to always have a traveling companion if possible. Having someone to provide support in case of medical emergencies or accidental off-course navigation is always a comforting option.
No Expensive Bling: Whenever I travel, I wear costume/cheap jewelry because I am always afraid to lose my good stuff or have it stolen. Some thieves take advantage of seniors because they think they are an easy target, so it is best to stick with the cheap stuff or none at all. Also, swimming in the ocean with shiny jewelry can attract fish and/or sharks.
Don't Forget to Check for Discounts: Most companies have special discounts for seniors including hotels, ferries, and attractions. Trips can be expensive so researching available discounts prior to traveling can help save money, especially for seniors on a fixed income.
Traveling as a senior can be a great adventure if you do your research and take precautions. Hopefully, some of these ideas and my friends’ experiences can help you when planning your next exciting escapade!
Written By: Care Manager - April Campbell