Senior air travel is a common occurrence. So much so that the airlines have long since taken notice and now actively compete for your business. Different airlines define seniors by different ages. For example,
• American Airlines: 65 and above
• Delta Airlines: online discount not offered; call for discount
• Delta Shuttle: 62 and above
• Air France: 65 and above
• Southwest Airlines: 65 and above
• United Airlines: discount available in some markets; call for eligibility
Now let’s take a look at tasks it could be helpful for you to do before leaving on your air travel. The order is not particularly important as long as you complete each task as appropriate for you trip.
First: Call the credit card company(s) for the cards you might be using on your trip. Most companies have fraud protection for your card, which means if they see it being used in an unusual place they could deny the transaction. Let them know when and where you are going should clear the way for you.
Second: Put you mail and all other deliveries on “stop” or “hold”. No good thing can come from newspapers or mail gathering in your yard to announce your absence to the world.
Third: Emergency phone numbers. Make it as easy as possible for you family to contact you while you are away. Additionally, be sure you have the phone number of your credit card companies, airline companies, the National Passport Information Center, and the US Embassy in the country of your destination, if you are traveling overseas.
Fourth: If necessary, make arrangement for the care of your pet(s).
Fifth: Stop by your bank for traveler’s checks and/or cash for a cab or local transportation at your destination. Also consider having local currency with you.
Sixth: Have maps, guide books and public transportation schedules with you.
Seventh: Check the weather forecast at your destination. Planning for time on the beach is better if it isn’t raining while you’re there.
Eighth: Leave all valuable at home. Why enrich the local economy unnecessarily?
Ninth: Before you leave the house be sure you have you 1) passport, 2) driver’s license, and 3) all your medications.
Tenth: While away, be aware of your surroundings; don’t look like an obvious tourist; walk confidently.
Eleventh: Enjoy yourself!
We are fortunate to live in a time when rapid air travel is so accessible. Even so there are precautions you can take to maximize your enjoyment of your flight.
Before you fly, try to be well rested. Sleeping in a sitting position for an extended period of time can be a difficult thing to do.
It is important to be well hydrated before you leave. Yes, this can bring along other “complications”, but those are more easily dealt with than some of the consequences of being dehydrated. The air at altitude can be very dry – less than 10% - so you can easily become dehydrated.
Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine as they both contribute to dehydration.
While airborne, take every opportunity to get up and move around the cabin. This will not only make your more comfortable but will also help avoid the rare but serious health complication of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
DVT can occur in some people when blood collects in the legs and a clot forms. The clot can become the problem.
Are you bothered with motion sickness? It might be helpful to take an over-the-counter medication for the flight. It can also help to limit the amount of reading you do during the flight.
Jet lag is especially common on longer flights, usually over several time zones. Unless you are an infant, you will probably experience it. The symptoms usually consist primarily of fatigue and insomnia. Basically it messes up your body’s clock until enough time passes for your body to adjust to the new schedule.
It is possible, if not eliminate, at least reduce the symptoms of jet lag by being well prepared for the flight by being well rested and relaxed. During the flight, sleep if possible, be well hydrated, and move about, whenever you can.
Vacationing by yourself can be a very enjoyable and rewarding experience. Remember that careful planning becomes even more important because you are by yourself.
Before you leave, do your homework. Research where you will be staying. Check travel guides and experts before you make any hotel reservation. Ask about the area where you lodging is located. Is it safe to walk in the evenings?
It’s a good idea to pay a little more if the area is safer. Let you loved one know where you will be and how they can reach you. Stay alert. Walk freely with your arms swinging normally and your head held high. Don’t look confused or like a tourist. Don’t become a target.