As a senior tour operator, I’ve been to many places, but this article is not about that. Instead, I’d like to cover some tips that will make your travel experience better, safer, and more enjoyable!
Take You Own Pillow
This is one way I avoid picking up germs on vacation. My daughter who worked for a 5-star hotel chain told me that when housekeeping changes the pillow slips, guests have often left their ‘slurps and slops’ behind. Imagine being the next person to sleep only a cotton cover away, especially with Covid hanging around!
Airplane pillows will have similar germs. Now, I unashamedly always travel with my own pillow, taking it on board in a thick plastic (posh) store bag. I pack a couple of coloured pillow slips, so I don’t look like it’s a ‘souvenir’. You can sit on it to relieve the ‘numb bum’ syndrome or sleep with it as you travel or in accommodation.
What Is the Dirtiest Place on a Plane?
The bathroom? The seat? Armrests? It’s actually the fold-down table.
Cleaners are on a tight schedule, so they don’t have time to do all the nooks and crannies. Airlines rarely clean the carpets, unless there has been on ‘odorous’ spill. Air freshener in the vents covers a multitude of sins.
How do I know this? Well, my son worked in the airline industry for over 10 years.
Share Your Travel Details
Don’t disappear on vacation without leaving your travel plans with your family or close friend. That includes a copy of your insurance policy, passport, itinerary, accommodation and flights. If they win Lotto while you are away, you can fly home 1st class! They do actually worry about us seniors going off without them, even if they won’t admit it.
Travel Insurance Covering Covid
Cheap insurance is not worth the paper it’s written on if you have to claim.
However, the add-on options are often an up-sell, and you can prune down the cost sometimes. Do your research for what is covered and how it affects the policy.
Good companies include Covid as a medical condition now, instead of a pandemic. Some countries and airlines ask for a PCR test 72 hours before traveling. Buy the policy at least three weeks before leaving so if you test positive then the insurance covers that hiccup.
Keep your policy with you at all times as you travel, as well as your passport.
If you need an emergency trip to the hospital, they will triage you and then the doctor will call the insurance company on their 24/7 number to get authorization for further treatment or admitting you to hospital.
Be a Queen at the Airport
Do you find big airports are daunting… the standing in lines, finding the right gate, getting tired and stressed? Then ride in style with the complimentary ‘passenger assist’ service.
Book this service with your flight. They pick you up at check-in and whisk you off, often in a golf cart, to the right gate for your flight.
Your travel companion comes with you through the VIP lines. “Will people look at me?” Sure, they will and say, “lucky them”! No point in starting a journey with sore knees and higher-than-it-should-be blood pressure!
Don’t Look Like a Drug Dealer!
Grandparents are well known to ‘give it a go’ for extra cash, egged on by the grandies. Watch how many are searched! Security officers don’t trust us any more than other travellers.
Ask your doctor or pharmacy to give you a list of your prescriptions and over the counter medications. If you can leave them in the original packaging that’s preferable.
A list of your conditions helps a doctor to treat you more accurately if you become unwell.
Take all your medications in your carry-on bag. If the main luggage goes to Pakistan by mistake, your blood pressure won’t explode until they send it back the next day.
Hearing aid batteries also go in your carry-on… so my son keeps reminding me!
Leave the Diamond Tiara at Home
Being a senior tourist, you are a target for petty thieves. They can be so clever, even endearing! We can be smarter. Travel with your bling that has no emotional attachment.
Travel insurance can cover the value of a family heirloom, but not the distress of losing a precious piece of jewellery.
Take a Dummy with You
No, not your partner! A dummy purse with only a few dollars is useful for a coffee… and to ‘donate’ to a thief.
Keep your passport, credit card and main money next to your skin in a pouch.
Or do it ‘native style’ in your bra! Never put all your credit cards in the one purse.
Lock everything in your room in a suitcase. Housekeeping can ‘hide’ an article and if it’s not claimed within a certain time then it’s theirs. If you discover the loss while you are in the hotel, the housekeeper can slip it back unobtrusively. (Another tip from my daughter).
Often, we don’t notice until we get home that a favourite item has gone missing. On my last trip, an old bra was taken from my dirty laundry bag. It is sadly missed!
Be a Flasher!
If you have a Seniors Card then flash it everywhere you go. Museums, art galleries, cafes, transportation, etc. They often give you a discount even if you aren’t a local.
Can save you a few dollars here and there!
Should I Take a Tour or Do My Own Thing?
As a senior myself and owner of a tour company, I understand that we often prefer to be independent. But I’m not sure if it’s a wiser choice to let someone else do the hard yards to organise a vacation. Backpackers love to ‘go with the flow’ but as we mature that might not turn out so well in reality. We like our creature comforts and security… right?!
Many of us are single. That’s lonely and not so safe to travel these days. I love having someone with me to share the “wow” of an amazing place. I often get asked by a solo traveller if they will be the odd one out on a tour.
As I specialise in seniors, the guest list is a mix of couples, solos and elderly parent with an adult ‘child’. Works well. You tour and eat together, but can retreat to your own room for ‘my time’.
Bon Voyage for your next trip!
What are the best vacations you have had as a senior? Do you have any ‘hot tips’ for us?