Travel Tips for Seniors/Retirees with Mobility Problems

Countless studies have shown that taking a trip is good for one’s mental, emotional, and physical health. In fact, traveling lowers your risks of having a heart attack and depression as well as boosts your mood and creativity.

As a group, retirees have more time to pursue an interest in traveling. Getting older might pose a few problems with mobility, however – often a result of the natural aging process or a complication of diseases such as osteoarthritis and diabetes. Fortunately, there are a few things people with mobility issues can do to make travel a successful and enjoyable experience.

Plan Your Trip Well

Avoid peak seasons

Since you have the flexibility of time as a retiree, then you won’t have problems choosing your travel dates. It might be best, however, to avoid peak seasons or the holidays so that you won’t be inconvenienced by mass crowds. Also, consider that summer travels or winter trips might be uncomfortable because of the heat or cold that can affect your general well-being.

Make Special Arrangements

Ask for any special arrangements when you book your flight or hotel accommodation. You might want to be seated on the front of the plane because of the leg room or ask for a wheelchair to help you get around. Some airlines might also require medical forms signed by your doctors to support your specific requests, so you’ll need to prepare these as well.

Choose a direct flight over a connecting flight; one might be cheaper over the other, but it will have two or more different stops. An extended travel time might bring unnecessary disruption and difficulty as you will need to avoid sitting for long hours.

If you’re joining a tour, inquire about wheelchair or motorized assistance since all that walking could trigger joint and muscle problems.

Prepare Your Vaccine and Medication

Get Vaccinated

Consult with your physician before traveling and get updated on vaccines for flu, measles, mumps, and rubella. The CDC has a comprehensive vaccine recommendation page, which indicates your medical and vaccination needs depending on the country you’re visiting.

Compile Your Documents

Photocopy your records of vaccination, insurance card, or Medicare along with your passport, driver’s license, contact details, as well as flight and hotel details. Provide a family member or a friend at home with the same photocopies before you leave.

Pack Your Meds

It won’t always be easy to buy medication from a pharmacy abroad, so you’ll have to pack your own for health issues like diarrhea, indigestion, arthritis or headaches. You will also need your prescription medication.

Keep these medicines in your carry-on bag and not your checked luggage, which might get temporarily lost. Also, keep your prescription meds in their original container, and always have the copy of the doctor’s prescription with you.

Pack What’s Necessary

Travel Light

Trying to haul several bulky items when you travel is another inconvenience that will limit or slow you down. Pack lightly and simply request for laundry service more often at your hotel so you won’t run out of clothes. Likewise, don’t carry too much inside your bag during your day-to-day activities, as this might only cause back problems.

Bring Assistive Devices

Having a travel companion is better if you have mobility problems. You might, however, also need to bring assistive devices with you, such as a cane, a walker, or an extra pillow to support your back.

Jot Things Down

Don’t forget to bring your reading glasses and, if necessary, have a small notebook or use your mobile phone’s notebook feature to jot down details like your hotel room number or a list of things to buy or try out for the day. This eliminates the anxiety over forgetting something, as your mind should be uncluttered to enjoy your trip better.

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Exercise Before Going Around Town

You’ll surely be eager to go sightseeing once you’re at your destination. Remember, however, to schedule rest periods in between activities so you won’t wear yourself out.

Prevent muscle stiffness by doing stretches or range-of-motion exercises for flexibility and mobility, such as:

  • Walking or jogging
  • Shoulder, hands, wrist, and ankle circles
  • Leg lifts

Some hotels have exercise facilities, saunas, and hot tubs for guests. Use the hotel gym in the morning before you head out and do your itinerary. Use the sauna and hot tub when you get back to your hotel so that you can relax.

If you have to stay seated on the tour bus for a few hours, do seat exercises:

  • Keep your heels on the floor and try raising and lowering your toes.
  • Keep your toes on the floor and then raise and lower your heels.
  • Squeeze your thigh muscles to tighten and relax alternately.
  • If there’s enough room on your seat, raise your leg a few inches and straighten your knees. Hold this position for 10 seconds and do the same on the other leg.

Whether alone or in a group, going on holiday exposes you to new cultures and adventures. You might also want to reward yourself with this opportunity after years of hard work.

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