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Timely Tips for Seniors Traveling by Plane, Train, or Automobile this Holiday Season

If Thanksgiving is any indication of what the 2022 holiday travel season will look like, planes, trains, and automobiles will be packed, as will the friendly skies, the rails, and the roads.

In this post-pandemic era, I am noticing more people, including seniors, itching to get back to holidays with family, long weekends away, vacations, and explorations. However, the triple threat of COVID, flu and RSV still exist, so no matter what, it is important that we protect ourselves and seniors when venturing out by following some basic travel tips for a safe, stress-free journey.

Travel by Plane

Seniors BlueBook has published a list of helpful tips for seniors when traveling by plane:

Prepare documents and medications. When booking flights, get as much information as possible. Having an informational packet put together will help everyone know what to expect and feel prepared. Your packet should include:

  • Flight departure/arrival times
  • Transportation options to and from the airport
  • Terminal maps and gate locations
  • Medication regulations and necessary documents
  • TSA safety check process

Look through the TSA website to learn about which medications are allowed and how to communicate with an officer about medically necessary bottles or containers. Request copies of prescriptions and statements of medical conditions from each physician and medical center for verification.

Make photocopies of passports, driver’s license, insurance cards, travel tickets, and the trip’s itinerary provides a backup in case of any unforeseen emergencies. Many seniors no longer have a driver’s license, which can present a problem when going through airport security. Be sure that the individual has a REAL state ID, military ID, passport, or similar credentials. Keep one set of copies with you, place a set of the documents in your senior’s carry-on bag and forward a set of the documents to the destination.

Consider insurance. When traveling, seniors are at greatest risk of being in need of a health care emergency. The right insurance package for one’s age group can protect their health and give you peace of mind.

Health Insurance. If traveling within the United States, be sure to look up what hospitals accept your health insurance and if there is coverage during travel. If going abroad, look at buying a travel medical plan or vacation plan that includes medical emergencies.

Trip Insurance. There are a few different options when choosing trip insurance. For seniors, there can be unexpected delays due to appointments, or medical clearance delays. Therefore, it is ideal that trip cancellation protection is provided.

If your senior loved one is nervous about the upcoming trip, let them vent and answer their concerns. Be calm and optimistic. Remember that all of this preparation is worthwhile.

Travel by Train

An article by AmericanLIfetime® says, “Recreational travelers typically focus on the destination. But, train travel validates the adage - the joy is in the journey. People often neglect the charm and nostalgic aspects of train excursions. Not so for seniors! A 2010 poll found that seniors were “mostly” responsible for the upsurge in train travel. For some seniors, a train whistle arouses childhood memories of train adventures with their families.”

There are other reasons why seniors may prefer train travel. It’s more affordable because there are senior discounts like military, AAA, AARP, and other exclusive discounts that may apply.

There is less stress involved because seniors won’t get stuck in stop-and-go traffic or long security lines that occur routinely at airports. It is much easier to board a train.

There are more freedoms involved because seniors can move about the train cars unlike on a plane or in an automobile. Electronic devices remain operational, too.

Additionally, trains have wider seats than planes and most cars, so they are more comfortable. If it’s an overnight trip, bring a pillow and blanket to relax in a reclining coach seat, and remember to wear comfortable shoes because shoes are required for the duration of the trip.

Travel by Automobile

Seniors Guide reports, “A recent survey of 3,000 Americans found that almost 40% of vacations are taken by car – and baby boomers take the most road trips of all Americans.”

Considering the youngest baby boomers are now reaching the age of 60, there are going to be a lot of road-tripping seniors on the highways and byways this holiday season!

Senior Guide suggests the following helpful tips for seniors traveling by automobile:

Take a break every two hours that you’re on the road. Probably the most important tip is to take a break every two hours to walk around and stretch to prevent back and neck pain, or numbness and tingling in the extremities. A short rest stop break will also give the driver a chance to refresh mentally and physically.

Stretch those muscles. Take advantage of your rest stops and stretch. Stretch out your back by standing tall and circling your shoulders five times. Reach your arms overhead, and hold for five seconds. Lower arms and repeat the stretch a few times. Passengers can also stretch out their ankles and lower legs while in the car. Do ankle rolls and alternate flexing and pointing your feet every half hour or so to reduce the risk of DVT*.

Watch your posture. On a long car ride, our posture often gets ignored, which can have uncomfortable side effects. Use a lumbar or neck travel pillow for support, and if you are driving, make sure you are not too close or too far away from the steering wheel. Also, mirrors should be adjusted to prevent the dropping or raising of the chin to see your surroundings.

Eat healthy snacks and meals. Avoid greasy fast food and sodium-laden convenience store snacks to prevent uncomfortable swelling and gastrointestinal issues.

Registered Dietician, Heidi Reichenberger McIndoo recommends, “Road trippers (should) plan ahead by packing healthy snacks and meals to eat on the road. (Bring) dried and fresh fruit, cheese sticks, and nuts to ward off cravings for unhealthy food while on the road. Pack your cooler with plain or vitamin water and stay hydrated, too.”

*DVT, or Deep-vein thrombosis, typically occurs when seniors must sit for long periods of time in a plane, train, or automobile. Dangerous blood clots can form in the veins – primarily veins in the legs – which inhibits blood flow. To prevent DVT, seniors should take frequent breaks, walk around, or do some form of exercise or stretching to keep blood circulating properly.

If you or a senior loved one is unable or unwilling to travel this holiday season, Home Helpers is your family when family can’t be there! Our compassionate caregivers are local, and they are happy to help in any number of ways.

My team of caregivers provides exceptional non-medical in-home care for seniors. Additionally, they are ready, willing, and able to help clients recuperating from surgery, recovering from a stroke, and clients coping with Alzheimer’s and dementia. I gladly offer a FREE Consultation to assess specific needs and match the perfect caregiver to provide the right kind of assistance.

We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award 2016-2022 and the Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award 2022. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson, and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ (727) 942-2539


Seniors BlueBook


Seniors Guide