Millennials have earned a reputation for globetrotting, but if recent statistics are to be believed, Baby Boomers aren't far behind.
In fact, according to an AARP survey, seniors plan to take four or five trips in 2019. While half of Baby Boomers said they would be traveling around the United States, the other half plans to go overseas, mostly to the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe.
The most common reason for the trip? Wanting to cross a destination off their bucket lists. But before you jet, sail, or drive off over the horizon, you'll want to do a little strategic packing. Keep these ten travel essentials on hand to stay safe, hydrated, and worry-free while you're on vacation.
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Whether you're checking an extra-large suitcase or only taking a carry-on, opt for a set of luggage that has four wheels, which are easy to transport from one location to the next. "You want make sure you're able to push it around on your own," says Ronan Factora, MD, a geriatrician with the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
An underseat bag
If you're traveling by plane, train, or bus, it's possible for your luggage to go missing. That's why it's a good idea to pack any must-have items (like prescription medications or pain relievers) in a bag that you can store under your seat.
An extra-week's-worth of medications
Planning a 10-day getaway? Then plan on packing about packing 17-days'-worth of medication. "That will give you plenty of bumper time to [find a refill] if you have to stay longer," he says. "Hopefully you'll never need to break into that stash, but if there is a flight delay or you experience a health issue, you might need to stay overseas." If you're taking medications like hydrocodone or oxycodone, consider packing a note from your doctor, who can vouch that you have prescription for them.
A copy of your electronic records—or at least a list or two
Keep a detailed list of your health conditions, allergies, and medications on hand, says Dr. Factora. This way, if you have to go to urgent care or the cruise ship's sick bay, the doctor will be able to narrow down what sorts of medications you can take and can avoid any unnecessary side effects.
An extra pair of glasses
The only thing worse than losing your glasses is losing them in an unfamiliar city. If you don't have an extra pair, pack a copy of your last prescription, says Dr. Factora. That way, you can visit an optometrist (or store that sells glasses) and find a replacement right away, he says.
A foldable cane
If you use a walking cane, but can't fit it into your suitcase, you might want to buy one of the foldable varieties. (They can collapse into three or four sections and are small enough to be stored in a bag.)
But Dr. Factora cautions a cane isn't a safe substitute for people who are used to using a walker or wheelchair. "When you're traveling, you should use the same sort of device that you use at home," he says.
Leg compression socks
If you're prone to leg swelling, it's a good idea to wear compression socks on a flight, particularly ones that are at least five hours long, says Factora. Socks or no socks, try to keep your legs elevated, and, when possible, stand up or walk down the aisles.
Batteries for hearing aids
If you wear hearing aids, bring an extra battery. If you use a charger and you're traveling overseas, you may also need to bring an adapter.
A water bottle
As we age, we also become more prone to dehydration—and for people who are taking medications like diuretics, that risk can increase even more. "Make sure you are getting plenty of fluids throughout your travel time or on the flight," says Dr. Factora. (Ditto for when you land, especially if you're traveling to a warmer climate.)
The rule of thumb is to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, but Dr. Factora says that those recommendations can vary from person-to-person. "One way to gauge if you're drinking enough fluids is to look at the color of your urine," he says. "If it's light and clear, or an amber color, you're probably getting enough. If your urine is darker, you might have to [increase your intake]." But you don't have to sip exclusively on H20, he says—you can also drink tea, milk, or juice.
A copy of your medical wishes
Yes, this is a worst-case scenario—but when you're traveling, you should keep a copy of your living will or a do-not-resuscitate letter on hand in case of an emergency. "Those are really important documents for folks who are at a more advanced age or have a lot of medical problems," says Dr. Factora. "There is always a possibility to end up in the hospital, and you want to make sure that your medical wishes are going to be followed."
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