Chapter 4 What’s On Your List
In Chapter 3 we talked about Making a List, or Lists…and this chapter will cover what you may want to include on that “list”….for the items on this list can “make or break” your travels. In addition to the “list”….there are some basics to include in your carry on, and I got the following from a travel blogger, Jamie.
When you think of the best parts travel, immersing yourself in new cultures and eating authentic food probably sound more appealing than flying to your destination. But, when you have the right things with you, your flight can be the ideal time to relax and dream of all the discovery to come! To make your time in the sky even more enjoyable, we reached out to Go Ahead staff to hear which products they always pack in their carry-on bags. Here are ten of their favorites to have with you the next time you take to the skies.
One thing is for sure: Digging for your passport and other travel documents isn’t nearly as fun as digging into culture. That’s why having a functional travel wallet on hand is a must—and why we love the colorful selection made by Zoppen. With well-organized pockets for your boarding pass, money, cell phone, and more, you’re guaranteed to have everything you need at the ready. Plus, the wallet’s RFID-blocking material prevents anyone from electronically nabbing ID info and credit card numbers, so you can stroll through busy terminals at ease (and in style!).
If you’ve ever arrived at an airport’s security line just in time to remember you’ll need to toss the full water bottle in your bag, this tip’s for you. Next time you pack up your carry-on essentials, bring along an empty water bottle. You can fill it once you’re through security instead of paying high airport prices for a bottle while waiting to board your flight. Then, you’ll be able to refill it during your adventure (as long as it’s safe to drink tap water at your destination). We love the Hydro Flask bottles, which are insulated to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot, making it easier to stay hydrated while quenching your thirst for adventure.
A good read
Far-off places spring to life from the pages of a good book, and bringing a travel-centric tale along during your flight is sure to get you dreaming of all the adventure to come. The Go Ahead team is full of top travel book recommendations, but one of our staff favorites is The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. In it, Weiner says there’s a link between inspiring destinations and overall happiness… and we can’t argue with that!
If you’d rather catch up on a good flick while coasting through the sky, noise-canceling headphones are the way to go. While quite reprieves may be hard to come by on busy flights, these headphones help keep any outside noise (think: crying babies) at bay while you tune into your movie or music. Want an option that won’t break the bank? Check out Sony’s over-the-ear headphones, which are comfortable enough for long trips and fold up when you’re ready to pack them away.
Enjoy passing the time on flights by watching movies on your tablet? A portable charger is the thing to bring. One of our top picks is the Jackery Bolt, a small-but-reliable external battery charger with built-in cords. It can provide a medium-sized smartphone with up to two full charges and give tablets and other electronics with USB ports more life. Simply plug the charger in overnight to give it some juice before you take off, and all you’ll need to think about is filling up your wine glass on tour instead of running out of battery in the air.
Like a good travel wallet, a roomy toiletry bag is a must for wrangling all of your in-flight essentials, and one of our favorites is the Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Travel Kit. The good-looking material is sturdy, the interior is roomy, and you can simply pop your plastic gallon baggie full of 3-oz liquids inside. That way, you won’t need to go rooting around in the bottom of your tote for lotion when your parched hands need some love mid-flight.
While meeting new people is one of the best parts of travel, picking up any germs (or sharing your own) undoubtedly dampen the adventure. That’s why using antibacterial wipes is always a good idea, and Purell’s travel packs are a good go-to. You can clean your hands, tray tables, and armrests in flight for a germ-free journey, and then tuck the package in a convenient place—the wipes aren’t considered a liquid so you don’t need to worry about keeping them in your gallon baggie.
An airplane cabin’s dry, recycled air can do a number to your skin, so it’s key to have a good moisturizing cream on hand (get it?). We love L’Occitane en Provence’s creams, which hydrate without feeling greasy—and call to mind bright fragrances in the South of France. If you’re hoping to sleep as you coast through the sky, opt for the lavender scent for an extra splash of relaxation.
A refreshing wake-up may be just what you need after snoozing mid-flight, and a minty lip balm should do the trick. One of our favorites is Smith’s Rosebud Perfume Co. Minted Rose Lip Balm. It hydrates while providing an invigorating kick and a light tint, all in a compact, pretty tin.
For the trip itself, let’s start with the obvious…your camera or camera phone, and the charger. Your IPad, if you use it for photos, and its charger. If you use your IPad for Kindle, then be sure you have the books you want to read downloaded while you have an internet service available. Sun glasses are always needed, and you might think about a case to keep them from breaking. If you like to take notes of things you see, or memorable things that happen on the trip, take along a writing tablet or note pad, and a couple of pens that work. Maybe for you it is your daily Diary. Binoculars always come in handy, but get a good one. REI is where I got mine…very pleased and only $100. A small umbrella is always good to take, for even though you may be in an area where it is not suppose to rain, be prepared in case weather turns bad. Just keep it small. Sunscreen may be needed, so stick in a tube, but it has to be the right size. For the flight, air sickness or Jet Lag pills may work, and the same for sea sickness. Slippers for the long flights are often well used, as well as a neck brace and eye covers and ear plugs. Always good if you plan on sleeping on the flight. And, if you take medications, be sure you have them with you on the flight, not in your checked luggage.
We covered the correct clothes, coats, and hats previously….but also think about personal security. If you have a fanny pack or a pouch, be sure it is RFID, which protects valuables for potential theft of private information. If you carry a purse, be sure it is RFID and has a way to strap it to your body. Men’s wallets should be kept in the front pocket of pants, not in the back pocket. If you use a back pack, they are great but can be accessed from the back, and you might want to look at one that you can carry in front of you, as well as on your back. If you are in a big crowded area, keep the pack in front of you with your arms around it. Speaking of personal security.…let’s think about the credit card and cash that you carry. First, be sure and notify your credit card company that you will be traveling outside the US, and they will probably ask what countries, and the dates, so have this handy. And, be sure and mention that you may be using both a credit and debit card. Regarding US dollars, in cash, for the most part will not be accepted in stores. Use a credit or debit card. However, dollars can be used for hotel tips, etc. but again, not widely accepted. Local cash, which you can get at ATM’s, which are very accessible, is the way to go. I do not recommend keeping much cash on you (maybe $100 converted to local currency) as you can use your debit card for almost all purchases. This process is much more common outside the US than in the US. We will talk more about getting local currency once you arrive at the in-country airport.
Now that you have done your pre trip planning, your pre-trip packing, and have your list of items to take, you are ready to depart and head to the airport. Chapter 5 will deal with “The Airport”….from getting there to taking off….stay tuned.
Chapter 3 Make A List
Make a List. I started making a list when I started traveling in 1960, while on a UCLA project to India. We did not have a lot of choice, as our Faculty Leader said, ” you can take 1 suitcase, and it has to be small”. Well, for a 20 year old college student that grew up with a Mom that said “wear clean clothes every day”, this was not going to be an easy task. But, I made it…and I made it because of My List.
Then for 10 years, while I was with World Vision and traveled someplace every week, the list was critical, and to this day, I make a list for every trip. In fact, now I make a couple of lists. One is for the trip, and one is to prepare for the trip, and let’s start with this one. From stopping the paper, (and yes, some people still get a newspaper), to stopping the mail, to planning out how the dogs and cats will be cared for, make that list for your departure. I even put on there adjust the heating and cooling system, depending on the time of year, and I list turn off the water if it is winter and may freeze. And so it goes. One word of caution though, that just came to me by a reader on Active Rain, only tell people that you know that you are leaving…don’t put it out there for the world to see on Facebook, etc….we are in a different world these days, and it is best that not everyone know that you are going to be traveling for 3 weeks, or whatever. But, do tell the neighbors that you know that you are leaving…could they keep an eye on the house, etc. They are always willing and you may want to return the favor…part of being a good neighbor. Put “check with the neighbors” on your list.
Plan for the trip. I like to think through the days, and what will I be doing each day. If you are walking a lot, will 1 pair of shoes work, or will you need two. What about the weather? Will you need a coat or jacket, and what attire do you want if you go to a concert, or to a fancy restaurant in Rome? Then, I will actually make a list of day to day clothes. This may sound ridiculous, but this way I can determine how many shirts, pants, etc I will need before I will have to do the laundry. This also helps to point out that you really will not need 8 changes for an 8 day trip…or that you may need that many changes. Then my list will start to list the activities that I am anticipating, such as climbing up a mountain, swimming in the hotel pool, or going on a photo safari. Do I have the batteries needed, as well as the tripod if I am using one, etc. Will I need my binoculars if i am looking at birds, or at a sporting event. Am I going to keep a diary, or will I use my IPad, and if so, do I have the charger(s). If I want to do some serious reading, do I have a book or is it on Kindle, and if so, have I downloaded the books I want to read. If you want to go to the hotel gym, what do I wear? What about a hair dryer, or clippers if you have a trimmed beard or need an haircut? Well, this is the process, and smart travelers go through this at least a week in advance of departure, which gives you time to pick something up at Walmart or the local drug store.
In the next section, I am going to list some items to put on your List, in preparation for the flight, and then arrival at the airport or port….so stay tuned…Chapter 4 What’s On Your List?
Chapter 2 The Internet, Web Resources, and the Travel Agency
As you start your trip planning and you are trying to determine where you want to go, use the Internet. There are a number of travel sites, but the best way, in my opinion, is to use Google and put in such things as “vacationing in Australia, or Europe, or France, or the Caribbean, etc”. Many site will come up and you can take your time and look at all of the many places that you can see and things that you can do. On our recent trip to Australia, we knew we were going to Cairns as our first step on our journey, so my wife Googled Cairns. From Cairns, which is north on Sydney, we were able to go out to the Great Barrier Reef, rode the train up to and through the Rain Forest, then rode the Skytrain back down over the Rain Forest to sea level, and back to the city of Cairns, which in itself is well worth seeing. We found all of this on the internet….then went to our agent, who had also suggested these attractions, and made the ticket arrangements.
And, you can use a site like Expedia to get an idea of flights into almost any destination in the world. They will give you prices and times, although the prices are often on bad connecting flights , or bad times, but it gives you a very good idea of when and where you can go. Trip Advisor is another good one, as this give first hand experiences from travelers.
These sites, and many others, are great for travel information, but not always good for ticketing. As I have said, and will say many more times, the local travel agent can get the same, if not better, price….they can give you the experiences of other travelers, and they can do the “hard work” for you, such as the reservations and ticketing. That is their job. But, you can do the pre-planning by using the Internet to get your general idea of where, when, why, and what you want to do.
A word about the Travel Agency. Only the good ones have survived the Internet. And they have survived because they can offer a service that the Internet cannot. As with almost any professional services these days, you can get almost any service on the web. But, you get what you pay for. I have planned and taken trips using nothing but the internet, with sites like www.hotels.com, and www.expedia.com, and they were good trips. But, for the most part, I was “flying by the seat of my pants”. And, when all said and done, did not save a penny. Now we use an Agency exclusively. And, a couple of other factors as to why to use an agency….(1) some are specialists, like with Cruise Lines…(2) many of the agencies are really experienced. :Been there done that” is true for many and this experience is passed on to you…..(3) Your individual travel agent in an agency will become “your good friend”, and they will have your interest foremost in their mind as they plan for you. This is that valuable factor…and can make the difference in your travels.
Next section is entitled….”Make a List”….and this is one of my favorites, for many do not do this until they get someplace and say, “I should have made a list of these things to bring”. Stay tuned.
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A few years ago I was introduced to Rick Steves….and long time professional in the travel industry, with a great line of luggage…and I got one of the best carry on bags…ever. He also has some travel tips, and I kept the following as it covers a lot about Senior Travel or Travel for Seniors. Here are his thoughts:
More people than ever are hocking their rockers and buying plane tickets. Many senior adventurers are proclaiming, “Age matters only if you’re a cheese.” Travel is their fountain of youth. I’m not a senior — yet — so I polled my readers via my Travel Forums, asking seniors to share their advice. Thanks to the many who responded, here’s a summary of top tips from seniors who believe it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.
If you’re retired and can travel whenever you want, it’s smart to aim for shoulder season (April through mid-June, or September and October). This allows you to avoid the most exhausting things about European travel: crowds and the heat of summer.
Seniors pay more for travel insurance — but are also more likely to need it. Find out exactly whether and how your medical insurance works overseas. (Medicare is not valid outside the US except in very limited circumstances; check your supplemental insurance coverage for exclusions.) Pre-existing conditions are a problem, especially if you are over 70, but some plans will waive those exclusions. When considering additional travel insurance, pay close attention to evacuation insurance, which covers the substantial expense of getting you to adequate medical care in case of an emergency — especially if you are too ill to fly commercially.
Packing light is especially important for seniors — when you pack light, you’re younger. To lighten your load, take fewer clothing items and do laundry more often. Fit it all in a roll-aboard suitcase — don’t try to haul a big bag. Figure out ways to smoothly carry your luggage, so you’re not wrestling with several bulky items. For example, if you bring a second bag, make it a small one that stacks neatly (or even attaches) on top of your wheeled bag.
Carry an extra pair of eyeglasses if you wear them, and bring along a magnifying glass if it’ll help you read detailed maps and small-print schedules. A small notebook is handy for jotting down facts and reminders, such as your hotel-room number or Metro stop. Doing so will lessen your anxiety about forgetting these details, keeping your mind clear and uncluttered.
It’s best to take a full supply of any medications with you, and leave them in their original containers. Finding a pharmacy and filling a prescription in Europe isn’t necessarily difficult, but it can be time-consuming. Plus, nonprescription medications (such as vitamins or supplements) may not be available abroad in the same form you’re used to. Pharmacists overseas are often unfamiliar with American brand names, so you may have to use the generic name instead (for example, atorvastatin instead of Lipitor). Before you leave, ask your doctor for a list of the precise generic names of your medications, and the names of equivalent medications. See my general advice on getting medical help in Europe.
If you wear hearing aids, be sure to bring spare batteries — it can be difficult to find a specific size in Europe. If your mobility is limited, see my tips and resources for travelers with disabilities.
If you’re not flying direct, check your bag — because if you have to transfer to a connecting flight at a huge, busy airport, your carry-on bag will become a lug-around drag. If you’re a slow walker, request a wheelchair or an electric cart when you book your seat so you can easily make any connecting flights. Since cramped legroom can be a concern for seniors, book early to reserve aisle seats (or splurge on roomier “economy plus,” or first class). Stay hydrated during long flights, and take short walks hourly to minimize the slight chance of getting a blood clot.
If stairs are a problem, request a ground-floor room. Think about the pros and cons of where you sleep: If you stay near the train station at the edge of town, you’ll minimize carrying your bag on arrival; on the other hand, staying in the city center gives you a convenient place to take a break between sights (and you can take a taxi on arrival to reduce lugging your bags). No matter where you stay, ask about your accommodation’s accessibility quirks before you book — find out whether it’s at the top of a steep hill, has an elevator or stairs to upper floors, and so on.
Subways involve a lot of walking and stairs (and are a pain with luggage). Consider using city buses or taxis instead, and when out and about with your luggage, take a taxi. If you’re renting a car, be warned that some countries and some car-rental companies have an upper age limit — to avoid unpleasant surprises, mention your age when you reserve.
Just showing your gray hair or passport can snag you a discount at many sights, and even some events such as concerts. (The British call discounts “concessions”; look also for “pensioner’s rates.”) Always ask about discounts, even if you don’t see posted information about one — you may be surprised. But note that at some sights, US citizens aren’t eligible for senior discounts.
Seniors can get deals on point-to-point rail tickets in Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Norway (including the Eurostar train between Britain and France/Belgium). Qualifying ages range from 60 to 67 years old. To get rail discounts in most countries — including Austria, Britain, Germany, Italy, and Spain, and a second tier of discounts in France — you must purchase a senior card at a local train station (valid for a year, but can be worthwhile even on a short trip if you take several train rides during your stay). Most rail passes don’t offer senior discounts, but passes for Britain and France (as well as the Balkans) do give seniors a break on first-class passes.
Many museums have elevators, and even if these are freight elevators not open to the public, the staff might bend the rules for older travelers. Take advantage of the benches in museums; sit down frequently to enjoy the art and rest your feet. Go late in the day for fewer crowds and cooler temperatures. Many museums offer loaner wheelchairs. Take bus tours (usually two hours long) for a painless overview of the highlights. Boat tours — of the harbor, river, lake, or fjord — are a pleasure. Hire an English-speaking cabbie to take you on a tour of a city or region (if it’s hot, spring for an air-conditioned taxi). Or participate in the life of local seniors, such as joining a tea dance at a senior center. If you’re traveling with others but need a rest break, set up a rendezvous point. Some find that one day of active sightseeing needs to be followed by a quiet day to recharge the batteries. For easy sightseeing, grab a table at a sidewalk café for a drink and people-watching.
Educational and Volunteer Opportunities
For a more meaningful cross-cultural experience, consider going on an educational tour such as those run by Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel), which offers study programs around the world designed for those over 55 (one to four weeks, call or check online for a free catalog, tel. 800-454-5768).
Becoming a temporary part of the community can be particularly rewarding. Settle down and stay a while, doing side-trips if you choose. You can rent a house or apartment, or go a more affordable route and swap houses for a few weeks with someone in an area you’re interested in. If you’re considering retiring abroad, two good resources are the Living Abroad series (Moon Books), which offers a country-by-country look at the challenges and rewards of life overseas, and Expat Exchange, where you’ll find tips and resources for expatriates.
This blog is part of my goal to inform travelers by those that are pros in the business. If you, or know of others, that have good thoughts about Senior Travel, or Cruise Ship traveling, or International travel in general…please let me know and I will get it out.