Travel Tips for Senior Travellers
Travel Tips for Senior Travellers (part one)
Many travellers ask us how best to prepare for their Odyssey Traveller programs, seeking out advice on clothing, medication, insurance, among other concerns.
This article shares our years of accumulated experience since 1983 in small group tours. Odyssey trusts that this article will guide you in planning your trip.
All of our programs come with detailed, country-specific advice, along with reading suggestions and other important information. However, there are pieces of general travel wisdom that apply across all of our tours. We’ve collated this advice in two blog posts, which is offered as general guide for those heading overseas. Click here for the second part.
International travel can be fatiguing and it is important to be realistic about your physical condition and ability to maintain an intensive schedule. All travel involves a degree of walking, as well as getting on and off various modes of transport, and being able to carry your own luggage. Bear in mind both that walking can involve various types of terrain and that weather conditions can vary significantly, especially considering the vast geographical areas covered on some of our programs.
Participants who are not mobile enough to take part in planned excursions may not benefit from all aspects of the program. Please keep in mind that our programs involve group activities, in which your level of fitness and mobility will have an impact on other participants.
As a precaution, we recommend that you consult your doctor about the physical demands of the program well before departure.
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What to Pack
Based on our many years of experience, we have found that the following list offers a useful guide on what to pack for an international programme:
- Day pack for sightseeing
- Passport/money pouch
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Camera with extra memory card & charger
- Mobile phone with international roaming or travel SIM and charger
- Sun hat / 30+ sun-block / sunglasses
- Insect repellent
- Folding umbrella or poncho
- Torch and fresh batteries
- A personal first aid kit that includes items such as pain reliever, indigestion and diarrhoea remedies, laxative, band aids, antiseptic cream, travel sickness pills, cold cure tablets/decongestants.
- Medication and prescriptions
- Small packet of tissues (toilet paper substitute)
- Personal items (soap, shampoo, toothbrush & toothpaste, etc.)
- Plastic bags (for wet items and laundry)
- Small sewing kit (packed in checked-in luggage)
- An extra pair of glasses and spare batteries for any personal aids
- Address book, pens and notebook
- Water bottle
- Odyssey Travellers preparatory material!
We always advise travellers to pack their own suitcases and avoid carrying parcels or packages on behalf of other people. Ideally, you should travel as lightly as possible. It is a requirement that each participant is able to carry their own luggage, sometimes up or down a flight of stairs, so you should not pack more than you can carry without assistance.
Bags with wheels are recommended to make carrying luggage easier. Always ensure that you have any necessary medication and other personal items (e.g. toothbrush, spare change of clothes) accessible in your hand baggage in case of complications with your checked baggage. Likewise, always keep travel documents, medication, jewellery, credit cards, keys, and other valuables in your hand luggage.
Please check what the weight allowances are for international long-haul, short-haul, and domestic flights and pack accordingly. If you are in doubt please contact Odyssey or your local tour operator. The charges for exceeding the luggage allowances can be extreme in certain countries. You should also check if the small group tour has specific weight allowances for that particular tour.
Please note that due to heightened security, the items on the following list have all been banned on commercial flights:
- Razor blades
- Knives with blades of any length
- Household cutlery
- Hypodermic needles
- Toy or replica guns
- Flammable liquids and solids
- Gas cylinders
- Infectious substances
- Non-safety matches, fire lighters, lighter fuel
- Poisons, arsenic, cyanide, weed killer
- Acids, corrosives, alkali, caustic soda
Please also note that each airport has their own policy on what is allowed on flights, which you should be careful to check on arrival and departure.
Passengers travelling on international flights need to be aware of the quantity limits for liquids, aerosols and gels that can be taken through a security screening point at the airport. Please ensure that:
- Liquid, aerosol or gel products is in containers of 100 millilitres/grams or less.
- The containers are carried in one transparent, resealable plastic bag.
- The four sides of the bag’s sealed area adds up to no more than 80 centimetres (e.g. 20 x 20 cm or 15 x 25 cm)
- All containers fit comfortably into the plastic bag and the bag is sealed.
A pair of comfortable, worn-in shoes for walking is essential on all of our programs. These shoes should be sturdy, with a strong grip, and ideally be water-proof. For daytime activities, light clothing is recommended, with warm layers added as required. Please note in some places that we visit, temperatures can drop quite dramatically at night. When visiting Church monuments or mosques, it is often a requirement that women’s shoulders be covered. Men are also encouraged to wear long trousers on such occasions. When evening outings or performances are included in the program, it is appropriate to dress up a little, but as travellers it is acceptable to be quite informal.
Choosing a wardrobe of adaptable basics, that can oftem be layered for comfort and warmth will help you deal with space limitations. We encourage travellers to select clothes that will coordinate around one or two colours. Also, be sure to pack tightly: this will save space and reduce creases.
As familiar brands may not be available overseas, we recommend that you carry adequate supplies of all prescribed medications and take a list of the generic names of your major medications, just in case. Take enough to allow for unexpected delays and always have a photocopy of your prescription or a doctor’s letter, which details your current medical problems and reasons for medications.
To avoid having to send clothes to a laundry, we advise bringing some washing soap, a traveller’s clothes line, and some lightweight clothes pegs. This allows travellers to do some light washing over the course of the tour. For Odyssey Travellers there is a balance of touring and free time on a multi-week tour, so it is possible to do some light washing. A challenge is getting cloths clean and dry whilst on the road.
Baggage allowances can vary greatly between airlines and destinations, so always check your air tickets carefully. Odyssey will always advise of any additional restrictions for flights during our programs.
Prevention is always better than cure. It is recommended that you consult your doctor to ensure you are up to date with all your vaccinations when travelling overseas. Also, check for any boosters that may be available for vaccinations you may have had previously. We recommend that you consult your own doctor or the nearest Travellers Health and Vaccination Centre (TMVC) for current health warnings, recommended vaccinations, and any side effects associated with vaccinations.
In-Flight Health and Comfort
Lack of exercise and sitting for long periods of time on aircraft can occasionally lead to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Airlines publicise information about DVT and jetlag through their entertainment systems and in their on-board literature. On long-haul flights, we recommend following their advice by doing the recommended exercises regularly, walking around as much as possible, and keeping up fluids while avoiding excessive alcoholic and caffeinated drinks.
Wearing loose comfortable clothing and keeping a light jumper in your hand luggage will also contribute to a more pleasant in-flight experience. Moisturisers will reduce the feeling of dehydration. Packing your glasses, is also recommended while flying. Contact lenses tend dry out on long haul flights.
Eric Ravenscraft, writing for the New York Times, provided tips on staying fresh during long trips. In addition to wearing comfortable clothing (Ravenscraft recommends athletic gear which are designed to keep you comfortable even when you move or sweat a lot), he suggests staying hydrated as it prevents bad breath, and packing face wipes to use in case there is no time to shower. Click here to read more of his tips.
The following links for Odyssey Travellers should also provide travel tips that will assist you in your vacation planning.
Your feedback is always welcome. At Odyssey we seek out to provide relevant and timely information to assist you with the enjoyment of your holidays and travel plans. Take a look at our tours and sign up if you find the destination of your dreams!