June 20, 2012

Your golden years are among the best times in your life to travel. With more leisure time, you can feel free to explore new destinations. Of course, traveling as an older adult can present some challenges. If you have certain medications, dietary restrictions, or physical disabilities, it’s important to plan ahead when on vacation. Plan accordingly for yourself as well as your travel partners, and enjoy experiencing new things and seeing the sights!

Make the most of the upcoming summer months with the following travel tips:

■Many travel agents specialized in senior citizen tours or pre-planned vacation packages. Group tours can be a great way to see the world with minimal stress and you’re likely to make new friends as well!

■Research the weather conditions of the destinations you have in mind. Overly hot or cold weather can make a trip difficult and less enjoyable.

■Before you leave, visit your doctor for a check-up. Use the opportunity to talk to your doctor about special vaccinations you might need for the destination you’re visiting. If you  have a pre-existing condition, have your doctor write up your medical history and treatment instructions in case you need to visit a hospital in a foreign country.

■If you’re crossing time zones, ask your doctor about how to adjust your medication schedule accordingly. It’s important to account for a change in meal times as well.

■Take enough of your medications with you to last for the entire trip, plus a few extra doses for unexpected delays.

■Keep germs at bay by washing your hands regularly and carrying hand sanitizer.

■Sitting on a plane for a long time can make you prone to deep-vein thrombosis, a condition when blood clots form and block your blood flow. Drink plenty of water and make sure to get up and move around mid-flight. Ask your doctor about taking a dose of aspirin pre-flight and wearing compression socks, which can help prevent DVT.

■It’s easy to misplace things when you’re not in a familiar place. Pack a spare pair of glasses and anything other essentials that might be easily lost.

■Vacations are exciting, but make sure to take it easy. Give yourself a couple of days to recover from jet lag. Don’t plan too many activities for each day–give yourself a chance to relax.

■Regardless of your destination, avoid overexposure to sunlight and heat. Wear a hat and sunscreen. Stay hydrated, and plan indoor activities for the hottest part of the day.

■Visiting tourist attractions at off-peak times of the year and also hours of the day, such as early morning, means you’ll be able to enjoy the sites without the crowds, jostling, and heightened noise level.

Planning ahead will make traveling as a senior an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Before you leave, share your trip plan with a family member or friend. During your trip, check in with them periodically to let them know you are safe. And don’t forget to take pictures to show them when you get back!