One pleasure retired people enjoy is the ability to go on all of those road trips that you dreamed about while working. And, like any new adventure, taking the time for prior planning goes a long way in helping you stay healthy and safe on the open road.
Today’s senior population is living longer and in better health than any prior generation. But the risk for experiencing a travel-related illness or injury increases as our physical and mental abilities change as we age. Additionally, vehicle problems can be minimized with some pre-trip preparations. Even if you think that you have taken all situations into account, it is always helpful to go over the basics. Consider incorporating some or all of the following road trip tips for seniors.
5 Road Trip Tips for Health and Safety
Health Tips While on the Road
1. Medical Clearance: Visit your doctor before going on a road trip to make sure that you are physically fit for a long journey.
2. Medications: Make sure to have a sufficient supply of any prescription medications or over-the-counter vitamins and drugs you are taking. Getting a refill while out of your home state can be difficult because there are some states that will not refill prescriptions from out-of-state physicians.
3. Travel-Related Medical Needs: If you have an injury or illness on your trip, it will help you get to the right medical services if you are traveling with your Medicare card information.
4. Maintaining a Healthy Diet: Pack healthy snacks and drinks to carry in the vehicle so that you will not be tempted to buy pastries or fast food when you are hungry. You can buy each day’s supply of food at a local market or grocery store. Remember to keep cold items in a cooler so that they will not spoil before you have the chance to eat them. You can review the menu of a restaurant online before deciding if there are enough healthy offerings that will fit your dietary requirements. Being on a vacation does not mean taking a vacation from your nutritional needs. Depending on your personal health considerations, an occasional treat is expected while on a trip, but it is important that you keep to your regular dietary routine as much as possible.
5. Don’t Over-exert Yourself: Scenic road journeys are filled with lovely landscapes, enchanting homes, and interesting historical sites. Take advantage of these vistas by planning to stop and get out of the vehicle every few hours. Not only will you be mentally refreshed and ready to resume your drive, but you are also helping your vascular circulation with physical movement intended to avoid the formation of a blood clot from sitting for hours at a time.
Safety Tips While on the Road
1. Plan and Share Your Itinerary: Whether you prefer to use an Atlas map or print your route from an online travel website, know where you are going and what roads you will be using before you leave home. This will help you decide how far you can comfortably travel each day. Your plan can include attractions, museums, and historical sites that you intend to visit along the route. Giving a copy of your itinerary to family members will enable them to know how to get in touch with you if needed.
2. Remember your Electronics: Ensure that you take the chargers for your electronic devices with you. It can be time-consuming and frustrating to discover that you left the chargers at home when you need to renew the power. Some devices can be charged in the vehicle while other devices need in-house outlets for efficient power renewal.
3. Important Documents: Important personal papers such as traveling with your Medicare card information and a list of personal contacts for emergencies need to be kept in a secure location. This can be an easily accessible place such as a fanny pack, or a money belt worn under your outer clothing, or a separate envelope stored within your luggage. It is helpful to plan for emergencies and not need to use it than to need the information and not have it.
4. Hygiene on the Road: You can limit personal contact with strangers when refueling your vehicle by using a credit card at the pump. Wear disposable gloves while refueling to avoid potential germs left on the gasoline nozzle by prior customers and then dispose of them in the trash. Use a disinfecting wipe to clean your credit card after each purchase. Use hand sanitizers when using public restrooms and use a paper towel to turn on the faucet if it is not motion detectable and when touching a door handle.
5. Hygiene in a Hotel: It helps to bring your own supply of sanitizing and disinfecting wipes, disposable plastic gloves, travel-size tissue boxes, and plastic bags for personal trash. You can use these items to wipe down the surfaces in a hotel room before unpacking and after each time you reenter the room.
Bottom Line: Road trips are exciting and a casual way to see new places, to make new memories, and to visit with friends and family who live in different states. With a few precautionary actions, you will return home safely and in good health, ready to plan that next exceptional road trip.