Holiday travel can be a stressful event for anyone, and traveling when you’re older is no exception. The key is planning!

Sit down with a cup of tea and a piece of paper, and list everything you need to be comfortable on your journey and at your destination. Give yourself the luxury of thinking about this for a few minutes without distraction. What would have been nice last time? Put the list where you can easily add to it during the day.

Holiday Travel and Your Health:

• Do you have all your medication and a back-up plan if your medication is somehow lost? If you’re flying, remember to keep all medications and other things you may need on you in your carry-on bag. Make sure your carry-on bag fits the requirements of your airline. Luggage is made easier with wheels!

If you’re driving, perhaps a zip lock bag in your pocketbook or suitcase can corral what you need. If there are young children at your destination, speak with the parents and insist that your medications be stored safely. Don’t allow “oh, we’re all here and we’ll watch out” as the precaution.

• Where are the closest medical facilities where you’ll be staying, and what are they like? Can you get the medication you need there?

• Do you need insurance to cover your holiday travel trip? If you have a Medicare supplemental plan, make sure it covers health issues in your destination location.

Wheeled walkers can add a lot to your safety and comfort. There are always places to store them. The few extra minutes to manipulate pays huge dividends in peace of mind. Ditto wheelchairs. It’s annoying to have to move them around, but wonderful to be able to move around in them! Just plan ahead for dealing with wheelchairs at airports, and make sure you’ve accounted for travel space if you’re driving.

Remember that sitting for long periods of time in a car or plane puts you at risk for blood clots in the legs. Stand up and stretch and walk up and down the aisles as much as you possibly can.  If you’re driving, stop or ask for stretch breaks every hour or so. Even if you have to go to the bathroom for an excuse to move, walk around, or do some standing exercises to keep your blood flowing.

You may want to keep a first aid kit on you with a few items that could make travel more comfortable: band aids, painkillers, anti-motion sickness medicine, antacids, sanitary wipes.. If you have extra glasses, bring them in case anything happens to yours.

Holiday Travel and the Weather

Last but not least, keep an eye on the weather. Be flexible, so that you can start earlier if necessary. If there’s any chance you’ll be delayed, pack a sweater, bottle of water and a granola bar, something to keep you going if a few hours are added to the trip.

If you’re driving, make sure there are blankets in the car and a couple of pairs of wool socks tucked under the seat. Even if you’re stuck, you’ll be safe as long as you’re warm and hydrated.

Holiday travel can be exhausting. Temper your expectations and apply a lot of self-care, self-control and self-kindess!  Enjoy what you’re going for: to be with people you love. All the rest of it is just gravy!