Traveling After Retirement: How to Make Air Travel Painless

Mar 30, 2016

Traveling After Retirement: How to Make Air Travel Painless

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Traveling is for more than just the young and adventurous. Retirement leaves a huge opportunity for you to travel as well. There is more time available, which opens up almost endless opportunities. While you may have more of a chance to travel than you ever did before, air travel may be a little more difficult than when you were younger. Depending on your level of mobility, there are essential steps to take to make sure the process is painless, allowing you to enjoy yourself whether it be visiting friends or family or going on a new adventure.

6 Ways to Make Traveling After Retirement Painless

1. Plan

Having a complete plan of your trip is essential if you want to avoid complications while traveling. Not only will a plan allow you to know the what, when, where, and how of everything during your trip, but it will also allow you to prepare for any possible problems that may arise.

2. Discounts

Being a senior and traveling means that you may be eligible for discounts. Not all airlines provide discounts, but some do so it is important to check. Saving some money on your flight leaves more money for you to spend on other, more fun, aspects of your trip.

Depending on your needs, you may wish or require a traveling companion or attendant to accompany you on your trip. These people can receive significant discounts on their fares, which can make traveling a possibility when you didn’t think it was before. For this to happen, everything usually needs to be arranged through medical providers and the airline’s medical desk.

3. Requests

Making specific requests while booking your tickets can make the flying process much less stressful than either not making the requests or waiting until you arrive. It almost guarantees that your needs will be taken care of. Below are a few requests that you can make, but there are a variety of other requests and accommodation possibilities depending on your specific situation.

  • Seating- You may desire or require specific seating when you fly. Your mobility level significantly determines what your needs may be but a few common requests include, aisle seating, extra legroom, close access to the restroom, and a movable armrest. The class in which you sit does not impact the level of medical care that you will receive, so do not feel inclined to book first or business class if you believe you will be provided better medical assistance there because that is not the case: you will get the same care in coach. Many of these amenities of sought after and won't be given to just anyone that claims to have a disability or need mobility assistance, so it is highly recommended to bring and provide a doctors note.
  • Preboard- Preboarding is when someone or a group of people is allowed to enter the airplane before the rest of the passengers. This can be especially helpful when you move slowly and do not wish to be rushed while entering the plane. There should also be someone available to help place baggage that you wish into the overhead compartment. On the other side, this can also be applied to disembarking the plane once you have arrived at your destination. It can be a good idea to wait until most everyone else has gotten off allowing you to take your time, gather your things, and not be rushed.

4. Transportation

There are numerous forms of transportation that happen or can happen while going to and from the airport. If you do not have someone to drive you to the airport, and do not wish to do so yourself, there are better options than taxis especially if you need extra help. There are medical transportation or volunteer driving services that will provide more help than a taxi by helping with your bags and getting you in and out of the car. If traveling alone, there are also concierge services that will help from curb to plane. Wheelchairs should also be considered. Will you be bringing your own or do you need to request one to move you through the airport? Will someone be helping you or do you need someone to assist you throughout the airport? Either way, you should make sure that the airline knows and is able to provide you with whatever services you need. Electric carts may also be available upon request if, perhaps, you do not require a wheelchair, but the sometimes-long walk to the gate could cause problems.

5. Documentation

It is important to bring any sort of documentation that may be necessary while you are on your trip. You should bring copies of your passport, other identification, insurance, itinerary, boarding passes, medical information etc. and place them in both your carry-on and checked bags along with providing them to at least one other person. This ensures that there should be a backup copy of your most important documents in case they get lost. You should also get and bring doctors notes if you have requested any accommodations before, during, or after your flight to make sure there are no problems.

6. Packing

The way you pack and what you include are aspects that can either make or break your flight and overall trip experience. To begin with, pack light! Chances are, either you or someone else will be carrying most of your luggage through the airport and packing a lot can make the experience not so enjoyable. Also, make sure that you have any and all of your medications packed in your carry on. Between 2 and 15 bags per 1000 are lost, and losing your medication could potentially be a life or death situation, so always err on the safe side and bring it with you. It is helpful to have anything that you may need to remove easily accessible to make the whole experience as streamlined as possible. Always make sure to check air travel regulations so you know exactly what can and cannot be packed in your carry-on.

Retirement is a great time to travel, and just because you may not be as young and agile as you used to be, does not mean that the experience needs to be a headache. By simply planning ahead and having all your affairs in order before even getting to the airport, you can expect the experience to go smoothly, which allows you to enjoy the trip and focus less on the coming and going. In summary, plan ahead, provide all necessary information, and don’t forget to have fun!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to get someone to drive my parent around and run errands when I’m not home?

Yes, there are programs included in home care that will allow your parent to receive transportation services even when you're unavailable. Speak with your home care provider to decide which type of caregiving services would be the best fit for your loved one's needs. 

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Can a senior with Alzheimer's disease still drive safely?

A senior in the early stage of Alzheimer’s or another dementia-related condition does not necessarily need to stop driving. However, drivers with these conditions might not know when they are an unsafe driver. As a senior, you should have a friend or family member that is willing to tell you when your driving becomes unsafe.

It is also important to tell a friend or family member if you become confused while driving. Seniors with moderate to severe dementia should not drive.

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