Travel has always been a terrific diversion for many of us. When COVID hit we put the skids on the runways, and our excursions on hold, to take care of ourselves as we went into isolation.
Now, we are noticing a newfound passion for traveling and a resurgence to get out and explore new places and things.
We reached out to our friends and family, as well as the experts at Premier World Discovery, and asked them to share some insights and tips so we can all travel with ease. Consider this blog the first in a number of travel-related features we will be sharing. This one focuses on air travel (including international tips) since so many folks we know are traveling globally. These tips will encourage everyone — and especially older adults — to seize the moment and explore what is beyond our respective front doors.
Do Your Research
When planning and booking a trip there are several companies as well as online tools and apps that can help. Check out some of these suggestions from our family and friends:
- Google Travel – (google.com/travel) The site shows weather conditions and travel restrictions, too, as well as reviews, ratings, prices, and photos from other travelers.
- Trip Advisor – (tripadvisor.com) This site has everything from vacation rentals to forums, tours, and tickets, things to do, as well as restaurants. You can also buy into TripAdvisor Plus for perks, but some of the reviews said it would most likely benefit those who travel frequently.
- FareDrop – (faredrop.com) This flight notification service was created by YouTubers Kara and Nate. It notifies users by text or email when a good deal is available. The first month is free, and, thereafter a monthly subscription is charged. It’s a new frontier out there, folks, and the reviews on this one vary but some great international flights have been scored using this tool.
- Wanderlog – (wanderlog.com) is a free mobile app that works on iOS and Android. Users have said that it’s a great itinerary and road trip planner through which you can coordinate your budget and trip details, as well as collaborate with friends.
- TripIt – (tripit.com) is like a one-stop storage area for your travel details. Forward all your confirmations and they are stored in your trip file. Then access those details when you need them most or send them to your calendar.
Another smart tactic is to find ways to save money or amass points to maximize your travel options using credit cards or hotel loyalty cards. Both can pay dividends once you decide which ones to use and use them regularly to gain points.
Getting Ready to Travel
There are a few key documents you don’t want to forget. Several suggestions from seasoned travelers advise keeping photo backups in your phone and/or leaving copies behind (just in case they are needed!) These include:
- Photo IDs are required in so many situations these days and the Real ID is also gaining traction for domestic travel and access to some federal facilities. For overseas travel, see below regarding passport or visa.
- Health insurance information is important to bring along. One never knows what circumstances might present themselves. It’s also wise to check with your provider about services out of state and the country should they be necessary.
- Travel insurance has become a buzzword in recent history and has been of benefit to several folks I know. While not mandatory or travel insurance, I can speak to having special insurance for a dive trip I made a few years ago. A freak accident led to an ankle fracture. My diving insurance paid for all the treatment back home as well as for physical therapy. For your insurance peace of mind, MedJet Assist is travel insurance that offers premier medical transport (home or to your preferred medical facility) when a crisis arises and other options are not feasible. Currently COVID transport is part of the services they are offering. Learn more here: https://medjetassist.com/
- Proof of vaccinations/wellness is needed quite often these days. Premiere Travel representative Jennifer Powers suggests you keep a copy of your vaccination card in your carry-on luggage as well as in your phone. The latter will serve as an image you can easily reference. If you have a smartphone you can set up albums for things like this keeping a backup image close at hand for easy reference.
- Passports are required for international travel. Some countries also require a visa to travel or pass through their borders. It’s a good idea to also have a photograph of your passport and Visa that you carry separately from your other travel documents.
- Currency and debit cards are both important for your travels. It’s a smart suggestion to take photos of the front and back of your cards so that you can leave the photocopies at home should your cards become lost or compromised. Ensure someone at home can help you access these copies should that become necessary.
- Tickets are evolving. Printed tickets are becoming scarce, and e-tickets are becoming more of the norm. It is a smart travel tip to access these digital tickets and save them in the wallet on your phone, if possible.
- Masks/face coverings are no longer required by many airlines, although it is a good practice to have them on hand should you need them during your travels.
Advance Prep – Items and ideas to simplify your trip
In casual conversations and while traveling you may have noticed that some folks really have traveling down to a science. We collected some great suggestions and are sharing them for your consideration and perhaps as gift ideas for yourself or others as we head into the holidays. (And, yes, most of these comments are from seasoned travelers.)
- Don’t invest in expensive or nice-looking luggage. It will have a rough life.
- Packing or compression cubes that can fit in a roller bag are space savers. You can fit more clothes in them than without and they can help keep track of what’s in them so you can unpack what you need. This article (travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/packing-tips/best-compression-packing-cubes) offers some great reviews and links and, of course, you can likely find many options on Amazon.com.
- Removing shoes, jackets, belts, etc. for security can be a hassle. Did you that if are over the age of 75, according to TSA, you may not have to go through that routine? Instead, security may be done using a pat down or a wand. Find details at tsa.org.
- Shoes like the “hands-free shoe” offer the quickest easy on and off for any age traveler. These slip-on sneakers (www.kiziks.com) have substantial support and offer quick on and off for security. You just slide your foot in and the back pops up on your heel. Brilliant.
- Chargers that allow you to use one external plug but charge other devices simultaneously, ie. phone, laptop, watch, etc., are super handy and take up much less room. Depending on your needs and devices there are plentiful options on Amazon.com.
- Electrical adapters for overseas travel are important if you plan to bring your devices as you explore the world. Here’s a great overview we found with plenty of options and reviews. nymag.com/strategist/article/best-travel-adapters)
- Plug-in nightlights take up little space and are so helpful when in unfamiliar rooms. If traveling overseas you may need an adapter. Flashlights can be a good option as well just be sure you check sizes and battery restrictions for air travel.
- Refillable water bottles are a money saver and a lifesaver. Just be certain they are empty when you go through security.
- If you are traveling overseas, consider using a variety of currencies: cash, debit, and/or credit cards. Be sure to know your active pin number as you may need it. Traveler’s checks may be difficult to use. Having a small amount of currency for the first country you visit is a wise decision.
- Tipping in various countries may vary greatly from the U.S. It might be good to research this in advance of your travels.
Watch for more such exciting hacks and travel packing tips in our next installment of Travel Hacks and remember these wise words by The Dalai Lama: “Once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been before.”
Submitted by Susan Sizemore, FiftyForward Communications Director and Squeeze the Day podcast host, who admittedly has a newfound sense of wanderlust.
(References to products/links within this article do not constitute an endorsement.)