Summer is peak travel season and planning ahead can make for a smooth trip. For travelers 50 and older, if a trip entails a lot of walking, it’s important to know one’s abilities and limitations. Cindy Jones with Earman Travel in Harrisonburg said senior travelers have different activity levels, so she always asks her clients if they have any mobility issues.
“Walking on uneven surfaces, cobblestone surfaces or steps can pose a concern for some people,” she said.
When making arrangements for older clients, Jones, a certified accessible travel advocate, asks them if anything (about their health) has changed since the last time they traveled. She has clients who are visually and hearing impaired as well as clients who may be immuno-compromised, use oxygen or may use a wheelchair/power chair.
Part of the services Jones provides includes verifying that room and bathroom design features are “accessible” for the client who needs an accessible room such as a roll-in shower. “It’s important to communicate any medical supplies needed when traveling – whether it be oxygen or a walker.”
Travelers who take medication should be familiar with the do’s and don’ts associated with packing medication, especially since states have individual laws pertaining to the labeling of prescription medications. The Transportation Security Administration website offers important tips on packing medication for domestic and international trips.
Opinions on securing travel insurance can vary as much as the types of travel insurance available. Coverage is available for vacations to theme parks, international travel, medical evacuations or other medical emergencies.
Dave Eshleman, 78 and wife, Joyce Eshleman, 73, of Harrisonburg have traveled to the Middle East, England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Rome and Greece. As travelers and trip organizers for tour companies in the United States and Canada, they recommend travel insurance.
“With an investment of [$2,000-$4,000] it is strongly recommended for older individuals because of the uncertainty with health issues and in the case of lost suitcases,” according to Dave Eshleman.
Jones recommends travel insurance to all of her clients when there are portions of their trips that are pre-paid and are non-refundable.
Travel insurance “would entitle them, pending claim approval, to a full refund of non-refundable trip costs if they are canceling for a covered reason,” she said.
The most common reasons for canceling a trip are injury, sickness or death of them, their traveling companion(s) or immediate family members.
Packing can be a dilemma for some travelers. To keep the content of her bags organized, Joyce Eshleman uses 2.5 gallon plastic bags for her clothes – an outfit in a single bag.
“They keep the suitcase in order, plus the bags play a dual role in making it easier to store dirty clothes,” she said.
On a recent trip to Egypt, traveler Betty Chappell, age 74 of Penn Laird, used a small, lightweight backpack instead of a pocketbook. “It worked well to hold things I would need during the day, and I could stuff a jacket in it. Chappell said she often overpacks for trips. “However, I think packing cubes are really helpful for keeping things organized. It’s helpful to have small zippered bags to keep things I may not need every day. I have one for hand sanitizers, tissues, etc. One for first-aid things,” she said.
Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, the federal government will require travelers to present an upgraded REAL ID compliant credential to board domestic flights. Until then, you can use your current Virginia driver’s license or identification card to board a plane.
“As far as who should get a REAL ID it really boils down to personal preference,” said Heather Ream, director of Marketing & Communications for the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport. “I would say anyone who travels at least once every couple of years (or may need to enter a military base) would benefit from just upgrading. A full-size passport or passport wallet card are also REAL ID compliant if travelers would prefer to use this form of identification.”