We Asked: What’s your best travel tip?

We asked readers on social media and in our weekly newsletter to share their thoughts about travel. Thank you to everyone who responded. Here’s what you said….

Q: What’s your best travel tip for either being or traveling with an older adult?

My tip for traveling with an older adult, especially one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, is to not over-schedule. I wanted there to be activities for us to engage in, and be guided through, but I also wanted there to be a bounty of space for us to simply be in nature, to process and digest the larger moments by ensuring there were smaller, calmer ones. Moving from here to there at a very quick pace would have led to stress for me and a high likelihood of confusion for her. Our rule of thumb was slow and steady.” —Steph Jagger, author of Everything Left to Remember

“Allow plenty of time — no rushing! Carry snacks and something to occupy the older person’s time: pictures, Bible to read, and keep them laughing.” —Mary Horace, Chicago

“Regardless of age and especially when traveling out of the country, I research medical emergency numbers: ambulance, clinics, fire and police departments, dentists, American hospitals, and U.S. embassies, as well as after-hour numbers.” —Veronica Boyajian, Highland Park, Illinois

“I traveled with my friend this winter to Arizona. I really enjoyed [traveling with someone] because it alleviated my anxiety about everything like getting to the airport, going through security, and just the waiting. Also, having someone to sit with on the plane — it was so nice and relaxing for me.” —Margie Brandt, Vernon Hills, Illinois

“Leave a tip for housekeeping. These are low-wage workers. You want to say thank you for their service.” —Anonymous, Chicago

“Even if the older adult is not mobility-impaired, ask for a wheelchair in the airport (including at Departures and Arrivals). I know there are some exceptions, but most seniors have difficulty keeping up with all the walking between terminals, and carrying personal items might make them feel unstable. The wheelchairs are free and make traveling so much easier. Most airlines will also let seniors pre-board to avoid standing in the mass of people trying to get on the plane.” —Amy Jo Steinbruecker, Addison, Illinois

“I am almost 80 years old and want to keep traveling as long as I am physically able to do so. I have found that I must pace myself when traveling and take time-outs, especially when traveling with a group. I can’t do everything anymore and occasionally need to rest. It has taken me a while to get past the expectations I had for myself when I was a younger traveler. Now Im enjoying travel more than when I thought I should be able to do it all.” —Elise Magers, MDiv, assistant director emerita, Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being, Chicago

“Plan your route carefully. If driving, try to take the quickest route, even if you have to pay a few tolls. Flying? Look for a nonstop, but no more than one layover. If youre flying, consider booking a seat with extra legroom (just not in the exit row!). Some airlines have what they call ‘premium economy,’ not as expensive as first or business class, but a little extra room and service. At booking, you can also request additional assistance, such as a wheelchair ride to the gate.” —Teri Dreher, RN, NShore Patient Advocates, Chicago

“Purchase and use incontinence pads for leakage and when the bathroom is not in sight.” —Anonymous, Chicago

“Stay hydrated. I feel that travel at any age, especially air travel, can lead to dehydration.” —Beth Comer, Westlake, Ohio

“Trust your intuition, the feeling in your gut. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Also, When I’m on the road, I always text my location to my sons every night.” —Donna Smith Davis, Full-time RVer

“When I flew with my mom, I picked seats close to the bathroom, made sure wheelchairs were reserved to get around the airports or to switch planes, and had hard candies or LifeSavers and Kleenex for mom’s throat.” —Cindy Cort, Chicago and Trevor, Wisconsin

“Travel insurance for outside the U.S. If one is 65 or older, Medicare will not cover you [with limited exceptions]. Register your trip with the local U.S. embassy or consulate via the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. With the credit card you booked your trip, check to see what is covered. Travel with two credit cards and a debit card. Keep one credit card on you and one hidden in a suitcase. Make sure your passport is on you and well hidden. Do not keep it in the hotel safe. Get all the shots that are recommended for the country you are visiting. Above all else, do not assume it won’t happen to you, because it can.” —Anonymous, Chicago

“As a traveler, unforeseen emergencies can occur at any moment, and it is vital to ensure you are well-prepared. This is especially true for those with diabetic parents, like me. It is essential to locate restaurants with healthier eating options and identify places where they can rest and cool off, especially in hot regions to avoid heat exhaustion. Equally crucial is finding the nearest hospitals and clinics in case of an emergency. Unfortunately, one of my parents fell ill during the vacation, and I learned the hard way that it’s always best to be prepared for the unexpected.” —Isabel Silva, Chicago

“Have handy your primary care physician’s information and the hospital that you generally use. This allows for better access to your medical history.” —Anonymous, Chicago

“Take photos of your state license/ID and passport. Keep the photos in a secure place, like your email, and leave a copy with a loved one. Take a list of your medications, get them refilled prior to traveling, use a pillbox, and place it in a plastic bag. Swimmers: Watch for tides (I’m a swimmer and nearly drowned getting into the waters of Aruba). Use an over-the-neck wallet to hold your phone — much easier to locate your phone, and there is less chance it’ll get lost. Eat at local restaurants. They’re cheaper, and the food is usually more native to the location and tastier. Make the best of your trip, and take plenty of photos, especially of the food you order.” —Judi Jordan, Chicago

Originally published in the Summer/Fall 2023 print issue.