There is something especially exciting about traveling around the holidays. Whether you are escaping to a warmer climate or looking to spend time with family and friends, there are some things you can do in advance — and while traveling — to make your experience even better.
Consider this article your guide to stress-free holiday travel as an older adult.
Plan Ahead to Avoid Travel Stress
There are some aspects of travel you can influence and others you cannot. Focusing on the items you can control is the easiest way to have a stress-free family visit or holiday vacation. In this section of our guide, we’re going to cover some preparations you can make ahead of time.
Book Flights and Lodging Early
If you are traveling in November or December, then be sure to make travel arrangements as soon as possible. This includes flights plus hotels or vacation rental properties. According to the personal finance website Nerdwallet, some of the busiest days for holiday travel are the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the days following Christmas. If you do travel on those days, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get through airport security and to your gate. Arrange any special accommodations in advance with the airport, such as wheelchair or cart transportation.
If you are driving, keep in mind that the days before and after the holidays will likely mean lots of traffic and the weather can also quickly take a turn if you’re traveling in colder climates. You’ll definitely want to pay close attention to weather conditions and keep travel plans flexible.
Even if you are staying with friends or family, communicate travel arrangements ahead of time. That way everyone is on the same page about when you are traveling to your destination.
Streamline Packing With Checklists
It’s far too easy to procrastinate packing for a trip until a day or two before it happens, maybe after you catch up on laundry. But that’s also a recipe for staying up late ahead of your trip and potentially leaving something important behind, whether it’s toiletries or prescription meds.
Here are some ways to help streamline packing:
- Identify which bags you are bringing with you
- Start thinking about what you can realistically fit in those bags
- Make a checklist of essential items you absolutely know you need
- Make a separate checklist of items you need to purchase ahead of the trip
- Purchase any travel-size toiletries or containers in advance
- Pack medication, toiletries, and other essentials early
While everyone’s packing strategies are different, one method that works out in most situations is to plan on bringing one carry-on size bag and one suitcase for carry-on or to check in. If you’re flying, go for a short walk with your luggage to see if you’re comfortable carrying those items.
Opt for lighter weight luggage with high-quality rollers, when possible. In addition, consider picking up a set of packing cubes and a toiletries bag if you don’t already have those. The travel cubes will help you organize clothes and you can pack the toiletries bag ahead of time.
Ideally, you will have your luggage packed and ready to go a day or two ahead of your trip.
Refill Prescriptions Ahead of Travel
It’s a good idea to schedule a doctor visit a month or two ahead of travel if you have any known or newly occurring health conditions. A doctor visit can bring peace of mind ahead of travel. Also check on prescriptions and give yourself time to get them refilled ahead of your trip, if relevant.
Make a list of the medications you are taking and bring along whatever helps you stick to your schedule, such as a travel pill container with compartments for each day. Think about other items you might need, such as extra contact lenses and solution or a backup pair of glasses.
Pack medication and any other health necessities well ahead of time. These items are essential to helping ensure your overall comfort so that you can enjoy every moment of your trip.
Tips to Eliminate Stress While Traveling
Here are some tips to reduce stress while traveling or exploring a new destination.
If you have a smartphone, then take advantage of the technology that is at your fingertips. Note that certain phone providers offer more reliable service in the U.S. and internationally, so if you find yourself traveling a lot, then it’s certainly worth comparing phone plan options.
Familiarize yourself with any smartphone apps you might use while traveling. That includes things like hotel or vacation rental apps, navigation apps, rideshare apps, and more. If you are new to your phone or a certain technology, set aside time to practice using each application.
You may already be comfortable with your technology. If that’s the case, it is still recommended to install, log into, and update any relevant apps ahead of holiday travel.
According to the National Council on Aging, travel can boost mental health, but it also does present some degree of risk, especially for older adults. Don’t let safety or health concerns get in the way of your holiday vacation. Brush up on safe travel knowledge and enjoy your trip.
No matter how much time you spend preparing for a trip, it’s more than likely not everything is going to go exactly to plan, especially during the holidays. In those moments, it’s important to take a few deep breaths and reassess the situation with a clear mind. What actions do you need to take to get things back on track? Sometimes a change of plans is beneficial.
Travel in general, and the holidays in particular, can be a stressful time for many people. Stay positive and treat others who are working or traveling over the holidays with kindness. If you do that then you are more likely to have positive interactions and receive better service.
Start Your Next Journey at Friendship Village of South Hills
The joy of travel and being able to do it more often is one of the many perks of getting older. Friendship Village of South Hills, a senior living community in Upper St. Clair, Penn. (near Pittsburgh), is the perfect place to kickstart your next adventure.
Our on-site concierge can help you arrange transportation to and from the nearby Pittsburgh International Airport or wherever your travels may take you. There’s also no need to have someone check on your home while you’re gone. Just let the front desk know your plans and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having a worry-free vacation. Community living even makes it easier to make new friends and find potential travel partners!
Contact us or complete the form below to learn more about life at Friendship Village of South Hills.