Chances are that later in life, there are many places listed on your bucket list that you've wanted to visit your entire life. Maybe you've been setting money aside for adventures to exotic sights and sceneries. Perhaps you're retired and you've got a completely open schedule, allowing you to come and go as you please. As the old adage goes, it's not about the destination but the journey. No matter how seasoned a traveler you may be, figuring out ways to be more comfortable while traveling is extremely beneficial, especially as you age. Here are some tips and considerations to keep you smiling in flight.
When you're booking flights, you can compare prices online using Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity. Each site offers a search bar that lets you select whether you want to see flights organized by the cheapest price, shortest flight or number of layovers. Layovers are most often seen as an inconvenience -- added travel time, potential for losing baggage, etc. But they are not always so.
In fact, a layover can be a nice break between long flights and an opportunity for to stretch your legs and get the blood moving in your body, which is particularly important if you are dealing with an injury or a disability. Depending on your destination, you can generally find a short layover of less than an hour, or less than two hours for international travel. It's a short and sweet stop. But if you don't want to be rushed, look out for a layover of a few hours, which will allow you to take your time getting to the next departure gate and possibly enjoy a meal and a glass of wine. Plus, delays with the first flight can cause you to miss your connecting flight altogether, so a longer layover is a safer bet.
If you would like to skip a layover altogether (or you have to), just know that nonstop flights are generally more expensive. Sleep deprivation is extremely common for passengers on long nonstop flights. To ease any discomfort, stock up on melatonin, a homeopathic sleep aid that won't leave you groggy when you wake up. Drink it down with a soothing hot tea. If you plan on sleeping through your flight, get up every three hours and take a walk to the rear of the plane in order to keep your body from stiffening too much.
Nutrition and travel often don't mix very well. Preselect your in-flight meal online (during booking or up to a few days before the flight). This is especially helpful for those with taste preferences and/or dietary restrictions. Additionally, take a special trip to the grocery store before your travel day and stock up on your favorite snacks. There will be no low blood sugar on this flight!
To avoid adding too much weight to carry or throwing out your back, check your bags and purchase one carry-on-sized roller suitcase as a travel essential. In the suitcase, pack the following items.
--One small fleece blanket. They are usually sold for $10 to $30 at Target.
--A neck pillow. If you don't have one, you can pick one up at an airport shop.
--An eye mask for sleeping.
--Lip balm and a reusable water bottle, as flying causes dehydration.
--Earplugs (to tune out the snorer next to you).
--A small pillow for the arch of your back.
--A pair of socks, so you can remove your shoes but keep your feet warm.
--Headphones for in-flight entertainment and/or music.
--Your favorite books and magazines.
--An iPhone or iPad to read e-books and listen to music.
--One pack of hand sanitizer wipes.
--One pack of cool wipes to refresh your face and skin.
The great thing about the notes above is that they also apply for travel with other modes of transportation, which may be better-suited for you. Bus companies usually offer senior rates. Many of them offer luxury travel options, too. Major train companies like Amtrak (in the U.S.) and Eurail (in Europe) have stops in nearly every big city in the country, as do most major car rental companies. If you plan on driving your own car for most of your trip, pack a few extra pairs of sunglasses in your glove compartment, and store a few full water bottles in a reachable place. Prefer ground travel with a group? Go to http://seniortours.com/destinations to book a trip for you and your friends -- and save a lot of money with a group rate.
If none of these methods of transportation strikes your fancy, head to the Cruise Critic website to compare prices and destinations. Sometimes, by sea is the way to be.
These tips cover all the bases. As you use them, you'll figure out what works best for you. Share your secrets with your friends and family so they, too, can cruise with comfort. And no matter where you go or how you get there, remember to capture as many moments as possible.