Airplane Travel Hacks for Seniors

Seniors shouldn’t have to slow down just because they are older, even if they have mobility issues. Many older travelers have reached a time in life where they have both the time and money to travel. Nothing should stop them from realizing their travel dreams.

To make it easier, it’s important to know some travel hacks for seniors. They can help make the journey more enjoyable, whether they are traveling to Europe, visiting family or going through a relocation.

Travel Hacks for Seniors

These tips for older travelers apply to both domestic and foreign travel. They range from smart steps to maintaining all your medication to choosing glasses over contacts. Whether minor or major, these travel hacks for seniors are designed to do one thing: make your flight more enjoyable.

Doctors and Medications

If you’re a senior, especially if you have mobility issues or underwent a recent surgery, it’s important to visit your physician before booking a trip so they can clear you for travel. Another issue to plan for once you’re cleared is managing medications – you don’t want to miss taking them while traveling. Pack all medications in easy-to-manage carry-on bags (such as a backpack), so you always have them near you.

Carry-On Bag

People sometimes make life harder on themselves, including older travelers, by having a bulky or hard-to-manage carry-on bag. In the weeks leading up to the trip, make sure you have a carry-on bag that you are comfortable with and that is easy to carry. For many people, the best answer is a lightweight backpack. 

Call Ahead to Airline

It’s a smart move to call the airlines at least 48 hours in advance if you think you will need any of the following special considerations. They can either put you on a list or tell you how to manage the issue once you arrive at the airport.

  • Use of medical equipment on the airplane
  • Early boarding
  • A wheelchair to get through airport (they can arrange someone to meet you when you arrive)
  • A special wheelchair for use on the airplane

Contact The TSA

You also can contact the U.S. Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) to find out how to get wheelchairs and medical equipment through security, as well as information on any other special considerations a senior traveler may want (such as getting through security faster). If you don’t call ahead, you can ask a TSA agent at the airport before you get into the security lines.

What is a TSA Notification Card?

Book Early

Arrange your travel well ahead of time to get as many non-stop flights as possible, eliminating multiple boardings and deboarding during your trip. This is one of the areas where a RN flight coordinator can provide a great deal of support.

Security Line Strategy

If you want to get through security without as much hectic removing and replacing items in your pants or coat pocket, take out important items (such as keys, wallet, and smartphone) and place them in your backpack or carry-on bag.

Take Pictures of Important Items

Take pictures of your passport, vaccination records, travel itinerary, important phone numbers and other documents and information so you can quickly show a copy or find a number if needed. You can also make photocopies and keep it in your carry-on bag in case you lose power on your phone.

Drink Water

Dehydration while flying is an issue for everyone, but it can especially impact older travelers. It’s smart to hydrate before a flight and bring water to have handy while on the plane (just in case they don’t serve beverages on your flight). Make sure to make a “pit stop” in the bathroom before boarding.

What Should I Eat Before a Flight?

Pick the Right Seat 

One of the good things about growing older is that you know your own body, including how long your bladder will hold out before it’s time to find a bathroom. One simple but smart travel hack for seniors is to pick a seat on the plane (or arrange to get it ahead of time with the airline) that will fit your anticipated need to get up and go to the bathroom. That typically means a seat as close to one of the bathrooms as possible, as well as an aisle seat that makes it easier to make the trip to the bathroom. Obviously, this is a bigger issue on longer flights, but some seniors know they will need an easy path to the bathroom at least once even on a 90-minute flight.

Another bathroom-related travel hack for seniors: avoid trying to go to the bathroom after food and beverages are served. This is the most popular time for people to go. The best time is after the plane has taken off and reached the height where it levels off and food service is still 10 to 15 minutes away. 

Wear Glasses

The dry air during the flight can cause your eyes to dry out, possibly leading to your contacts irritating your eyes. If you have the option, wear glasses instead of contacts during the flight.

Of course, the most important travel hack for seniors is to enjoy yourself! By planning ahead and putting these tips into action, you can take the anxiety out of travel and spend more time relaxing.

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