Travelling Seniors

Travelling Seniors
With increasingly improved tourism infrastructure in countries across the world and personal financial planning, many more seniors have the opportunity to go places nowadays. Whether you are retired from active working life or still enjoying the excitement of work, an experienced traveller or one making a first time splash from your savings in a journey of a lifetime, we have some notes and reminders that you will find useful.

The choice of destinations and itinerary are of utmost importance. The mode of travel, standard of hygiene and healthcare, security and traveller-friendliness in places of visit and type of activities you would like to engage-in must all suit your idea of ease and comfort in a well deserved holiday. A fast pace itinerary packed with many destinations and activities can be exciting but exhausting.

The following tips must be read in conjunction with Safety and Religious and Cultural Sensitivities. They are additional and special pointers for lady travellers doing it solo or in small numbers.

Before you go
Tips on preparations
  • Do homework on the destination country and particular places you are visiting
    • Infrastructural convenience and facilities, are they traveller-friendly especially to senior folks?
    • The safety reputation of the places in your itinerary, are they good?
    • Health conditions - any existing epidemics, potential and suspected
    • Availability and standard of health care
    • General civic consciousness, honesty and friendliness of local community
  • Choose an itinerary that best suits you - timetable, hours of active sightseeing, resting time, length of journey on buses, trains etc and other important logistic issues
  • Joining a professionally organised tour group ensures better safety and health support. Choose a travel agent that do not ‘rush you around’ or serve inadequately especially when help is needed. Inform the tour guide/manager if you have any health condition.
  • Visit a travel doctor or have a medical and dental check-up by your regular physicians at least 2 months before travel. Follow advice tightly.
  • If you have a particular health condition
    • Ensure you have sufficient provisions of medication for duration of trip. Check with embassy or relevant authority to ensure they are not considered illegal in destination country
    • Travel with a companion(s) especially if assistance is required
    • If condition needs more attention, ensure destination has supporting medical facilities required in an emergency
  • Should there be known health issues, existing or potential epidemic
    • Obtain expert medical advice on risks and necessary precautions to be taken.
    • Vaccinations/booster doses to childhood vaccinations to be seriously considered
  • If you have not been exercising regularly, build up your fitness in weeks before departure
  • For a physically active trip, obtain doctor’s clearance and advice. Gradually build up your fitness in weeks or months before departure date
  • Ensure adequate insurance coverage
    • medical treatment and hospitalisation
    • evacuation if you have a particular health condition and/or in health hazard prone areas
    • activities that you wish to participate-in especially on adventure tours.
Checklist before departure:
  1. Small medical kit - suggest to include headache tablets, antacids, antiseptic lotion, cotton wool, band-aids, latex gloves, safety pins, 30+ sunscreen and suitable insect repellent
  2. Hygiene essentials - check if they are readily available at destination country or pack-in sufficient of them
  3. Sufficient medication, they may not be available overseas.
  4. If you are on anti-malarial medication, follow prescription - take before leaving, while in risk areas and upon return
  5. Important documents - insurance, letters from doctor on medical conditions and medications (if any). Keep originals close to you and duplicate copies in different baggage (in case you lose the originals) and with someone at home in case of emergencies.
  6. Sufficient and appropriate clothing, accessories and shoes to keep you warm in cold temperatures, cool in hot humid weather and dry at all times.
  7. List down all important contact numbers and addresses: hospital, ambulance, insurance service and home country embassy (if any) - especially when travelling independently.
  8. Maintain an e-mail account where you can access and communicate with insurance agents, home and persons who can help you in times of need.
  9. You may print our ready Planning Checklist for your convenient use.

On the go
Tips on maintaining your health and fitness
While flying and long distance ground travel :
  • Factor effects of jetlag into your itinerary
  • Keep important medication with you in case your luggage goes missing
  • In cold weather, ensure warm jacket and scarf are readily available in hand-carry bag
  • Remember to take your prescribed medications on time
  • Stretch your feet and lower legs while seated and move your limbs regularly
  • Walk around at regular intervals (when it is save to do so)
  • Drink plenty of fluids but avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • If you have been scuba diving, do not travel in an aircraft for at least 24 hours after your final dive to help avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
While touring :
  • In cold and rainy weather, avoid getting wet. Always bring your raincoat or umbrella. Wear clothes (best with a hood) made from water repellent materials.
  • Do not overstretch yourself physically, especially in hot climates
  • Include ‘relaxation time’ in your itinerary
  • Wear comfortable boots, warm beret, scarf and do not forget your gloves in cold weather when out sightseeing. If you come from a country with warm climate, do not forget.
  • Wear loose clothes, comfortable shoes, hat and sunscreen for sightseeing in sunny weather
  • Beware of uncooked food including salads and cut fruits. Fruits that need peeling are best.
  • Beware of street food. Freshly cooked food in clean environment are recommended.
  • Check if local tap water is safe. If in doubt, drink (plenty) and clean your teeth in bottled water. Always examine seal on the bottle. In some countries, ‘proper seals’ bottles are not necessarily reliable, enquire for reputable brands/vendors from locals.
  • Avoid ice in cool drinks. The ice may come from water that are not clean or boiled, freezing preserve germs and not kill them.
  • Wear thongs while showering. Beware of slippery floor.
  • Dress and behave conservatively, in accordance with local customs. See Religious and Cultural Sensitivities
  • Practise safe sex - HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are widespread in many countries
  • If you need to buy medicine off-the-shelf, check carefully on the strength and recommended dosage even if they look the same (name, brand etc.) as your regular ones.
When help is needed
  • Keep in touch regularly, especially if you have a health condition or travelling alone so that your whereabouts are known to persons who can help you
  • Contact insurance agent on medical and related arrangements, most of them maintain 24-hour service
  • If evacuation (medical or due to disaster) is necessary, contact your country embassy/consulate (if any) for assistance and home on your condition and necessary arrangements they can make on their part
  • See Safety Guide involving safety issues

The information and advise are intended to be a general guide for travellers only. While every care has been taken to prepare the information and make recommendations or suggestions, neither the publisher of nor its management or staff are responsible for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained therein.
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