• Karen McPhail

Summer Travel Planning!

We are at the beginning of Pride Month and summer vacation season, so I hope that some additional travel tips will be of assistance!  Planning is always key to ensure a safe and fun vacation!  However, with a lot to do and remember, often times we forget last minute details!  

Follow the guidelines below for successful planning and prep!  

1.  Consider purchasing trip insurance as a part of any travel package. Make sure that air fair is refundable and understand the purchase terms. It is better to be safe than sorry when planning time away! If traveling out of the country, also purchase travel insurance in case you would become ill while abroad! Travel insurance can be expensive, but it is often times worthwhile! You do not want to be in another country and have no means to pay for or access necessary care. Plans can include medical expense coverage, trip interruption, emergency travel services and more. Explore plans fully before moving forward with one!

2. See your primary care physician prior to leaving. Do this about a month before travel to ensure that you have ample time for any recommended immunizations, treatments or medications. You want to ensure that you are in good health before leaving and understand any preventative measures to take before and during your trip. Your primary care physician may also send you on your trip with antibiotics or other medications to use in the case of an emergency if abroad. If you require a referral or guidance in accessing an inclusive care provider please reach out to us via the contacts tab!!!

3. This leads me to the next area, medications! Ensure that you have your medications filled and packed prior to leaving. Plan to pack at least 3 extra days of extra medication in case your travel plans are delayed, etc. Never put your medications into checked baggage, always keep them on your person in a carry on!!! Print out a typed or neatly written list of your medications, with name (generic and brand), dosages, past medical history and allergies in case of emergency. Always, place your medications locked in your room safe once you reach your destination.

3. Check in with friends, house sitters, and pet sitters before leaving and update them on any last minute changes to your itinerary.   Ensure that you give friends your travel plans and exact itinerary with flight information, hotels, etc prior to leaving! It is best to be safe in case of emergencies!

4.  Make a checklist of items to remember for the day you leave!  This will help you to feel at ease and know that everything has been handled!  A vacation packing list can also be helpful!

5. Ensure that you have a cell phone and a charger packed.  Most people carry one, but some tend to not rely on them as much as others!  Charge your phone the night before you leave and bring a portable charger in case of emergencies.  Have a cell phone with you at all times!

6.  Dress for the unexpected!  Even if you are expecting a short and easy day of travel, dress for the worst case scenario.  Wear comfortable shoes that you can walk well in or have on your feet if you are traveling via wheelchair.  Ensure that you wear flat shoes with arch support.   Lace up shoes are often times best since you can adjust them for swelling, etc. if needed.   If possible, do not wear heels because they can lead to tripping, injury, or straining. Save your heels for events upon arrival! Dress in comfortable layers to ensure that you can adjust your temperature comfortably when needed.  Wear your medic alert bracelet or necklace if you have one. If you have chronic medical issues that require immediate attention, consider purchasing one prior to traveling:

7.  As always, keep your bags on your person at all times.  Never ask someone you do not know to watch your bags, even for a short period of time!  Remember again, to have your medications (ensure that they are filled before leaving), medical history, and emergency contact list packed in a carry-on bag.  Never pack your medications in a checked bag!  Having toiletries and one day of clothing that is not heavy or bulky packed in your carry-on is also a great idea in case luggage issues occur.  Your ID should be zipped into a front pocket of your carry-on that is easy to access when needed.  For trips longer than an hour, have a small snack and a water bottle in your carry-on in case of emergency.   Only carry necessary items in your carry-on and keep other items in your checked baggage!   Ensure that you have a light-weight suitcase that is easy to pull to avoid injury.  

8. Consider group travel and tours as they can be a great way to safely travel and make new friends! Often times traveling with a group can provide an additional buffer of safety, security, and resources in case of emergencies or issues! Traveling with a group can also be more social and enjoyable for some. Meeting new people and having a set social group for tours, meals and to access throughout often times enhances the travel experience!

Also consider these Hotel and Location Basics!

Enjoy your time away, but take precautions to ensure that you do not have major issues. Hopefully you will have done your safety homework prior to leaving by checking out not just hotel ratings, rates, room configurations, and amenities, but safety considerations for the area in which you will be staying and traveling to. This is very important and should not be taken lightly or skipped! Is the location and venue LGBT friendly? Is it safe after dark? Are certain nearby areas not particularly safe? How is hotel security? Is the weather variable? What needs to be considered in the case of an emergency or weather related issue? Does the hotel have a house doctor in case of emergency? All these items can be checked out easily online! Check with a travel agent, travel websites, AARP, your hotel, and the U.S. State Department website which offers guidelines and specific safety information for various countries.

First, upon arrival, use the in room safe for all medications, jewelry, ID's, electronics and personal belongings of value. You may be at the finest hotel, but theft can occur absolutely anywhere and you have no real control over who is coming and going. Be safe to avoid inconvenience, heartache and disappointment!

Second, when you are out and about do not advertise that you are! Never put up the clean my room sign if one is offered! This indicates to all that you are out and your room is indeed vacant! While in your room use the do not disturb or privacy please sign along with the chain at night for added safety. Usually requesting a room near an elevator, hotel lobby, or on the main floor is the safest. Avoid ground floor rooms or those by exterior stairs or parking lot access. Be safe to avoid theft!

2. Food and Dining!

Often times when we are on vacation we try new things or branch out from our normal dining habits. We do not always make wise or healthy selections when away from home, but need to try to be mindful when dining out. Older adults sometimes have some important dietary restrictions or sensitive digestion which need to be considered. Remember that if you are mindful of your limitations, necessary restrictions and dietary basics you can have a better trip! Moderation is key when dining out. Explore, try new things, but not too many at once and within reason!

3. Tours and Exploring!

Group tours can be a fun, economical, social and safe way to see many areas of the country and world. Again do your homework before booking and closely read any cancellation policies, etc. If exploring on your own, use guide books and maps to plan out your day in advance. Most museums and galleries will have elevators and ample places to sit throughout the day. Pace yourself, be realistic, and be mindful of good spots for dining and taking a break throughout. Always be alert and confident when out and about. Do not make yourself an easy target, by appearing lost or vague about surroundings. If unsure of directions, appear confident and directly seek out assistance with a knowledgeable and trustworthy party at your hotel, a museum, restaurant, etc. Planning is key, will put your mind at ease and ensure a successful outcome!

Bon Voyage & Happy Vaca!

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