Travel Carefully and Carefree
The holiday season can be a hectic time to travel, especially for older adults. Millions of Americans are flocking to airports, piling onto trains and loading up buses. Here are some tips that can make the holiday travel season a little less risky for the older traveler.

Check Your Vaccinations

Find out if you need to update your vaccinations: If you're traveling overseas, you may need to get certain shots before departing - up to 6 weeks before you leave, in some cases. Visit the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site, and click on your destinations for required and recommended vaccines.

Talk To Your Doctor

Explain your travel plans, and discuss any travel precautions you should take. Your doctor may ask you to come in for a checkup or to get any necessary shots.

Ask When You Should Take Your Medications

If you take medications, and will be crossing time zones, ask your physician whether you should take your meds at your usual home-time-zone time, or switch, and how. Also ask if any new foods you might eat while traveling could interact with your meds.

Guard Against Deep-vein Thrombosis(DVT)

Older adults run a higher-than-average risk of DVT, which happens when blood clots form in your veins, usually in your legs, and block blood flow. Sitting still for a long time on an airplane or train can contribute to DVT. But some research finds that wearing special "compression stockings" can help prevent this dangerous condition. Check with your doctor.

Get It In Writing

Ask your physician to write down the following:

  • Any medical problems you have and how they're being treated.
  • The names (including generic names) of any drugs you're taking, the doses, and when and how you take them (whether you use a needle, for instance).
  • The amount of each drug you need to take with you on your trip.
Having all of this on paper will make it easier for you to get through customs, and easier to get replacement drugs if you lose any while traveling. Make a copy of the list, and carry one with you, and keep the other in a suitcase.

Keep Your Pills in Their Original Containers

Do this with prescription and over-the-counter medicines and supplements. This will also make your trip through customs easier.

Carry All Necessary Medications With You

Pack your medications in your carry-on bag to avoid loss or damage.

Protect Yourself From Infection
  • Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based "hand sanitizer," especially after spending time on a crowded plane, train, or bus, and before eating.
  • Watch what you eat, and drink. The CDC travel site includes country-by-country information on food- and water-borne illnesses and how to avoid them.
  • Drink water on the plane: The air inside planes is dry, so bring a large bottle of water with you and drink whenever the least bit thirsty. Or ask for a bottle of water every time the flight attendant offers a drink.