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Boomer Travel: Tips and Workarounds

Boomer Travel: Tips and Workarounds
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BY STEPHANIE SCHROEDER

Boomers are traveling. A lot.

The AARP Travel Research: 2016 Travel Trends survey found, among other things, that:

  • Practically all Baby Boomers (99%) anticipate traveling for leisure in 2016, with approximately 4 or 5 trips in the works.
  • Many are planning both domestic and international trips (45%), with 5% planning international travel exclusively.

As we age, so does our approach to travel. We might have different needs for flying or need new and different accommodations than when we were younger. Perhaps our mobility isn’t what it used to be or we have medical issues that need attending to.

I travel with seven medications, four of which are psychiatric meds, including one controlled substance. I’ve never had an issue in over 15 years of traveling, and I never want to. Advice from Lifehack is to carry your prescriptions in their original bottles and to get a note from your doctor on his/her stationary if you’re carrying a controlled substance, among other ideas. I’ve never asked my doctor for a note, but I can see that it might help a less-experienced traveler feel more comfortable.

Mobility issues often present problems, large and small, including limiting the accommodation choices Boomers have. Deb Malkin, who lives in Oakland, CA, spent a solid two weeks last month looking for a vacation home in Hawaii for her and her partner, who is mobility impaired.

Ads on vacation home sites were misleading or not clear in terms of accessibility, according to Malkin. She went with VRBO because the site allows for descriptions of attributes of accessible homes. But even with that, Malkin says she had to ask extremely precise questions of owners to ensure that she and her partner, who uses a scooter, would be able to have access to showers, toilets and other necessities. Says Malkin, “I had to ‘decode” photos and descriptions, lots of people got defensive when I pursued additional questioning, and said photos of toilets and showers were not what people wanted to see.” Malkin says the presence of a lip in a shower stall, a few steps or stairs, or even too many steps from the bed to the bathroom can make or break her and her partner’s vacation, so she needed very detailed information about the houses she was considering. She finally narrowed it down to two places and went with the one that seems best-suited for their needs. They are not traveling until March 2018, but Malkin says she wanted to secure the right accommodations for her and her partner in advance so they wouldn’t be scrambling at the last minute and be disappointed.

Another issue that is very complicated is travel insurance. Most mainstream travel insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, which leaves many people, especially boomers and elders, without coverage if they fall ill while traveling. HTH and IMG are companies that help people living with pre-existing or newly diagnosed medical conditions obtain appropriate travel insurance.

Meanwhile, traveling with a CPAP machine is common and relatively easy as a CPAP classified as a therapy device and, while the TSA inspects and/or scans them, they generally don’t spend an inordinate amount of time or effort with these types of devices. USA Today has some useful tips about traveling with a CPAP.

But, what if you are abroad and you have a problem with your CPAP machine? The different healthcare services models in other countries can make help hard to find.

Lisa Haas, who lives in New York City, says her CPAP stopped working when she was visiting The Netherlands for eight weeks. She couldn’t go without it for that amount of time and found no online resources for local repairs. She finally located a university professor in Amsterdam who studies sleep disorders. She wrote asking where she might find assistance. The professor told her to walk into any hospital and she might find help. Luckily, Haas’ machine started working again the next day, but this was a warning sign to her to be prepared for her next trip.

Airplanes can be even more uncomfortable as we age and lose flexibility, mobility, experience side effects from a slew of medications, and a range of other issues. Things like super-comfortable travel pillows such as the Face Cradle are a huge help. When you can’t quite get comfortable with a standard travel pillow, this pillow, with five different possible sleeping positions, including face forward, might help.

The AARP Travel survey also revealed that what Boomers tend to take with them on all trips are their medications, a comfortable pair of shoes, a camera, and sunglasses. And, in contrast to the younger generations, Baby Boomers will also take a good book and emergency numbers.

Tailoring your trip, packing what is right and necessary for you, securing appropriate travel insurance, and making arrangements for other issues is what will make or break your vacation is the most important thing to ensure your vacation will be safe and stress-free.

The best advice? Be Prepared!

 

 

 

 

 

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Stephanie Schroeder
Stephanie Schroeder is freelance writer and activist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been published The Guardian US, The Brooklyn Paper, Curve, Chelsea Now, Passport, and others. She is the author of the memoir Beautiful Wreck: Sex, Lies & Suicide.