Lena Toksanbaeva has recently discovered the joys of travel. Her romance with travel started with her first family vacation to London. What began with ‘I’m terrified of flying’, ended up with ‘I can’t wait to catch the next flight to my favourite destination’. With Thailand, Spain and France already ticked off her holiday list, Lena’s journey has just begun.
Wonder what is so special about her? Well, believe me or faint, Lena Toksanbaeva is not a teenager, a gap year student or a middle aged woman, but a 79 year-old pensioner from Kazakhstan who until recently, had never stepped out of her village until last year when her granddaughter insisted her on a family trip to London!
Today, Lena is an internet sensation and an inspiration to many who have limited themselves with their growing age.
Frankly, these are not excuses but genuine concerns that every senior citizen faces; it could be something as simple as ‘where to go’ to the more complex one of ‘health problems’.
Keeping these issues in mind, I have complied a checklist that will help and motivate all such enthusiastic souls to leave the comforts of their home and look at the wonders of world.
After all age is just a number, right?
- First thing first, zero in on the place, you would like to visit. You might be tempted to try the most adventurous places but if it is your first solo trip or with your spouse, I would suggest be a little conservative: countries like Europe, United States, and England etc. are senior-citizen friendly and, they also offer some attractive discounts and offers to them.
- Use Internet, talk to your friends, read travel books, or hire travel agent and try to squeeze in as much as information as you can. Maintain a journal, if need be.
- Make sure you book your airline, hotel and activities weeks in advance. Early booking would ensure best fares and a variety to choose from.
- Keep extra copies and print outs of important documents ready e.g. passport, health insurance, photo ids, tickets, reservations details, booking confirmation.
- Because you will be away from your home for a long time (2 weeks or more), make sure you have anti-theft insurance in place. Find someone to look after your pets and water your garden while you are away. If you could arrange for some house-sitters, nothing like it.
- Re-confirm your bookings, a week before travelling.
Health check-up & Travel Insurance
- Begin with compete health check-up. A very essential step, more so, if you have an existing ailment.
- Inform your doctor about impending vacation. Discuss possible diet, medications, and pen down any emergency contact numbers.
- Check if you can have some vaccinations to avoid potential illness. Also, few countries have mandates regarding vaccinations, you will get that information on countries website or google. So, get these before leaving!
- Do not forget to visit your dentist & optometrist.
- Another important step is to have a robust travel insurance plan in place. Rather than comparing hundreds online, I would suggest visiting a travel insurance broker, who will help you, get the right one for you.
- Read the documents thoroughly and take a cognizance of which illness is covered under the policy.
- On a safer side, carry a signed doctor’s note for any medical prescription you might need when you travel.
- It is also wise to carry your own medicines along with the doctor’s prescription in a container tray, preferably with separate compartments marked for each day.
- Any seasoned traveller, young or old will advise you to travel light. Carry jackets, t-shirts of dark colours, an extra pair of spectacles, comfortable trousers, and sneakers.
- Suitcases with wheels are easy to manoeuvre.
- A pillow would ensure better rest in long flights.
- Keep all the documents, medicines in the handbags and the extra copies of documents in the main suitcase, just to be on the safer side.
- A reusable collapsible water bottle is a good investment. Keeps you hydrated all the time plus it is easy to carry.
- While hopping from one activity to another, make sure you take ample rest.
- Carry a handbag with water bottle and little snack like banana for instant energy.
- Always carry a visiting card of the hotel you are staying in your handbag/wallet. In case, you lose your way, you always have an option of calling up the hotel.
- If possible avoid late night outs, shady pubs or dark alleys for security reasons.
- Always dress conservatively and comfortably no matter which country you are in. A loose t-shirt, khaki trousers with a cap/hat is acceptable wear worldwide.