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what experienced 80 year old travelers on the Forum do to ease the stress of travel.?

What experienced have 80 year old travelers on the Forum do to ease the stress of travel. I think it would be helpful if people could post their experience traveling abroad on the long-haul flights. And what they do to decrease the stress of the long flight and how they were able to handle the whole travel with some physical issues due to age. should one sort of give up traveling when we are octogenarian? Thank you for your replies they are all wonderful and very informative and realistic.

Posted by
2318 posts

Well, I’m in my late 60s, but a couple of things I’ve noticed:

Whereas I used to try for a window seat, now I always aim for an aisle seat for ease in stretching my legs periodically, and loo visits.
I try to hydrate at every opportunity.
I try to get a bit of sleep if possible.
I like to look at the online map provided to check our progress.
One more thing: if I think I might want to use the seatback entertainment system (movies, tv, games), I bring my own comfortable, noise-cancelling headphones instead of relying on the rather pitiful earbuds handed out by the flight attendants. Makes a big difference.

Posted by
10322 posts

I am not 80 but my dh is getting near.
Once we board the flight, we are excited to be our trip, no stress at all. Physical issues need to be taken into consideration but flying isn’t where it happens. We made it, and our trip starts when we board!
We take longer trips, a month to six weeks, absolute minimum length is three weeks. . We book Business Class on long haul flights and it is so worth it.
If you need more help, consider taking a tour. Some even will meet you at the airport and take you to the hotel. If taking a tour, do not choose one with large numbers of participants. Sixteen is a good limit. There are so many options to help you keep traveling if you wish to do so.
If booking your own independent trip, stay longer in each location. What length of time did you spend at each stop in the past? Add a day or two now.. Only do “ one biggie”( famous site like the Acropolis) ) per day. This is very important.! Doing too much each day is tiring and counter productive.
Make sure your hotel has a/c if traveling in warmer months. Book hotels that offer breakfast and are conveniently located to good dining options and places you plan to visit. Pack light and do laundry. Using smaller, lighter weight luggage is very freeing. My friend’s mother traveled internationally well into her nineties and switched to taking river cruises. There are so many good options for you.
Keep traveling,Charlotte!

Posted by
22976 posts

I think much has to do with your physically nature or orientation. At 81 and since we have been traveling for close to 50 years, my biggest stress can be (not always) is not knowing when I am at. Hence the emphasis on a map and compass and now Goggle maps. We don't do a lot of advance planning that requires us to be somewhere at a set time. We have a broad outline of what we want to do but not very specific as to an hour or even a day. And try to plan absolutely nothing every four or five days so we have a lot of flexibility in our schedule. And we often don't have a return airline ticket. We work our return when we decide, "Maybe we should go home next week." Ok, what is a good day? It is just the habit you develop.

However, good glass of wine at table with a view late PM or early evening does wonders for daily stress.

Posted by
411 posts

Very very good question! Not seen this one! I am 68 and husband 71. We just completed a 2 1/2 Med cruise trip with extra days of land both ends using trains, buses and taxis. 6 adults…5 grandchildren…ages 6-12. Wow…we did all the things we had planned, reserved tours and extra! And…Throughout the heat of the hottest days so far in Spain, France, Italy. We then trained up to Salzburg and ending Munich. Cruise worked out great! Land Excursions were mostly all in the morning….still tiring and hot for us all. But…. Hauling our luggage on taxis, cobblestones, many steps and trains we took… the hardest part! We all tried to pack light…washed out our clothes several times. Kids pulled their own bags. Adult children so helpful too. But this type of family trip adventure had to happen….now or never!! Thankful we could!!! Glad we did!
The two of us still have future cruise and land tours scheduled and will continue as long as we can manage safely. We are fit, healthy and active. We have good genes! I also know many in their eightlies and beyond who still travel. And they are likely on this forum! Maybe alittle less strenuous or active trips….but maybe not!?
I worked most of my life in geriatric therapy and aquatic fitness. Those that keep walking regularly, can do some stairs, biking, fitness classes and some water activities tend to help maintain their weight and mobility. I often suggest some good treking poles for some extra balance and safety/mobility when out walking. We see the older fit active people in Europe…not intending to generalize….but they tend to walk and hop on bikes more readily. And we hear in US have cars and need to drive longer/further to get around. I also realize many health factors play into our movement and mobility! But oh how I hope and dream to find ways to keep on traveling! I’d love to hear other people’s stories, thoughts and advice!

Posted by
47 posts

My husband and I are in our mid 70s and travel with our 46 year old son with Downs Syndrome. As we've gotten older we stay in each place longer and take day trips from there by train. We also stay in the city of arrival at least one night to get over jet lag. We also try to include at least one place we have visited before where we feel comfortable. We pack lighter and lighter and stay at places that have laundry facilities or hotels that will do our laundry. We walk every day at home to keep our mobility not an issue when we travel. I hope you can relax and enjoy yourselves on your time. Include rest days in your itinerary and have a great time.

Posted by
277 posts

I don’t know what to tell you other than don’t stop traveling because you have reached a certain number unless you feel your health demands it. I’m in the keep moving as long as possible school. I’m 73 I do make myself get an aisle seat so I’m forced to get up when someone in my row needs to exit. I know I need to move and keep the blood flowing. I had a knee replacement 9 months ago and my ortho doc really stressed that it’s important. But I hate the long haul flights, I can never sleep and even in extra leg room seats I feel very hemmed in. I listen to classical music or watch things I downloaded on my iPad. I’m not anxious but always very ready to be off the plane! I wish there was a magic potion to make that 10-11 hours zip by.

Posted by
2074 posts

I'm 78 and, like others, sit in an aisle seat but still hate the long flights. I take a Dramamine after dinner which seems to allow me to get some sleep (and I don't wake up groggy in the morning). I have custom-molded earplugs which I wear on the plane to cut down on engine noise but also people talking all night or children crying. I've started using a sleep mask. My biggest problem now with the flights is how terribly cold they keep the plane. I need to be warm to sleep! On my most recent flight I had at least four blankets.

My mother traveled well into her eighties and served as a role model. I guess I have good genes, too, as I don't really have many physical issues. I'm still using a backpack suitcase and try to leave home with it weighing no more than 17 pounds.

Posted by
3097 posts

My one piece of advice from the perspective of a person in their 70's - Check your bag if you can't lift it into the overhead bin by yourself.

Posted by
10322 posts

We finally started to check luggage under a doctor’s orders! He had no idea we were carrying our luggage on flights, lifting it above into storage bins.

Posted by
2318 posts

One advantage of checking your luggage is that you can include trekking poles (not allowed in carry-on).

Posted by
18 posts

I'm in your age group. Although I've never traveled to Israel, my flights to Europe over the past 45 years are too numerous too count. Flights are usually not stressful, but as I age the following changes have become essential:

  1. Booking nonstop flights since having to change planes is always anxiety-producing. This may be easier for me because Philadelphia International Airport is a major hub for American Airlines nonstop European flights. I realize that it's not an option for everyone and also limits my choic of arriving and departing cities. However, this is my major stress reducer.

  2. Booking an aisle seat rather than my formerly preferred window seat. This assures my being able to stretch and having easy access to the often-needed lavatory.

  3. Taking a taxi directly to my hotel at least on arrival and sometimes on departure. Jet lag often makes trains and buses difficult for me to navigate, plus I get lost very easily and don't want to wander around unfamiliar neighborhoods searching for my hotel.

  4. Checking luggage because I know that I can't lift even a small carry-on into the overhead bin and don't expect other passengers or flight attendants to do this. Again, this is easier with nonstop flights, as luggage is less likely be lost. I'm willing to accept the small chance that my luck will run out but do admit that I often become anxious while waiting (and waiting) at the luggage carousel. When the cost is relatively reasonable, I book Premium Economy as this provides priority luggage handling.

Posted by
1894 posts

My parents are in their 80s and are having issues. I know people on here will disagree but they are getting to the age where long-haul flights are a no-go. Even flying across the country is getting demanding on them more from their nerves and their health.

1)Seats-spend more and get comfortable seats. With the squeeze in economy getting worse, it's worth it to use points or spend a little extra on elbow room or exit row seats if not premium economy.

2)Check your luggage. Yes, RS says not to, but I'm sure when he gets into his 80s he will feel differently. Trying to lift your bag into the overhead is really tough when you get older. My parents always check their luggage and knock on wood have never had it go missing.

Mom and I are making one last international trip next year and I think that will be all for her. My dad hasn't been able to fly internationally for a couple years-health wise. I was luckily enough to go on some wonderful international vacations with them and I would definitely urge those with senior parents to take some vacations together as one never knows what tomorrow will bring.

Posted by
6077 posts

We're not 80 yet, but it's not that far down the road.

Our main concessions to less stressful travel have been

  1. Flying business class if possible; premium economy at least. Last trip I booked premium economy, and upgraded to business at the first possible opportunity. Arriving rested and reasonably well fed makes a big difference.

  2. Spending at least three nights at each stop, more if possible. Last summer when travelling on our own (not on the RSE tours) we stayed 4 or 5 nights at each stop. That takes a lot of stress off. You don't realize how much energy goes into moving from one place to another, until you don't do it.

Posted by
179 posts

We're early 70's. When flying, we get up and walk every hour except when sleeping. We also do leg exercised to prevent clots. We book premium economy. We book direct flights since we live relatively near to SFO. We try to get into the mind set of "slow travel". We spend more time "being" (in the moment) than "seeing" (everything). We try to be sure we know our limits. For example, in the US we often rent a car but in Europe, no. That's my limit. Pack light. Leave lots of time to get places. Thanks for this question. I'm getting more ideas.

Posted by
14117 posts

As I get older, I try to make travel as easy as possible. I'm only in my 60's, but I no longer look to see what the cheapest way to go is but what is the easiest? What will give me the least hassle, the least headaches and the least stress.

I now choose accomodations more for comfort than charm, find laundry facilities over sink washing, and more often, when with luggage, choose cabs over public transportation.

I switched to wheeled luggage years ago and on this trip went from a backpack personal item to a holdall. (Same size.)

I tend to stay longer at each hotel stop rather than running, running, running.

When flying, the length of the flight and the type of plane help me to decide where to sit. Long haul is business class. Short haul depends on the type of plane and seating plan. I will not do middle seats.

These are my preferences. Yours may be different. Travel the way you want and not the way someone tells you to.

Posted by
9850 posts

Everyone has given wonderful perspectives and tips. I'm in my upper 70s and don't believe in roughing it anymore. Instead, I give myself a day to get my energy ùp, and then I take on physical challenges, walking so many miles, going to higher altitudes, keeping active all day. But, I stop for a drink break. To help thé worn out body parts, I stretch, exercise, hydrate, never pass up a ladies room.
And I have bad sleep thé night before changing locations; that juste thé way it is, nerves.

Posted by
146 posts

Here are four ideas to add to the already excellent suggestions above:
- break up the single long haul flight, if funds and time allows. Rather than one 9 hour flight, consider arriving early at a midpoint and spending a day or two in a nice hotel, then continuing to your destination. We are seriously looking at the Azores as a great stop-off vacation rather flying all the way to Europe and being exhausted when we deplane.
- airport hotels! Sometimes the hardest two hours are ground transportation from the airport to where you are staying. If you fly into a big airport, take advantage of staying on site, then continuing to your hotel the following day.
- Prepare an exceedingly detailed itinerary. In one document, capture the flight date, time, airline, etc, and then how exactly to get from airport to hotel (where to get the taxi, how long it will take, etc.) and the same for each day. Use Maps, airport maps, etc, to find this stuff out ahead of time. Having all details to just read off saves you from trying to think when you are tired.
- a younger travel companion. Do you have an offspring or grandchild who would love the adventure and would also be able to help you with a plan B when something goes awry? Sometimes being poised to handle what may go wrong can be draining.

Posted by
6 posts

I am reminded of my favorite Satchel Paige quote: "how old would you be if you didn't know how old you was."

Posted by
7166 posts

We are pushing 80 and now usually travel overseas on a tour rather than doing it ourselves.

The tour takes care of all the little stuff like luggage, local tours, transport and more.

We especially like Gate 1 Travel.

Posted by
22976 posts

I think all of the above postings proved one thing ---- age is a mind set provided you health is good. There are old people who cannot travel at 70 and young people going strong at 85. Obviously you need to know you limitations and have children who don't scream at you. About 20 years ago. a consultant/editor I used died while sitting on a stone bench on a cliff in Ireland overlooking the ocean. Cannot think of a better way to go.

Posted by
58 posts

Personally I hate getting old. But it beats the alternative. I am surprised nobody has suggested whiskey. (Or is it whisky?)

Posted by
22976 posts

You mean Kenny Rogers' three keys to life ??? --- Older whiskey, faster horses, and younger women. I up for all three. ....... upon further reflection -- probably only two !

Posted by
1539 posts

Hi Charlotte

Well, I am not 80 but getting there fast. I am 78 and getting ready to travel next month. I have several health issues which presents challenges. This includes arthritis of my knee. I am going to have an injection in my knee next week to deal with the stiffness and the pain.

I am a. severe insomniac and sleep poorly. Usually I can only sleep a few hours every night before travel because I am so excited. I go to the airport the night before I travel. I am usually exhausted by this point but I am finally relaxing. The stress is beginning to leave my body.

When I get on the plane, I crash (not the best choice of words but that is what happens) I usually sleep most of the way. When I am not sleeping, I try to watch the entertainment including the flight path of the plane.

Ways to reduce stress while on the plane includes prayer, meditation and hypnosis. I have been hypnotized and have learned how to hypnotize myself to deal with my insomnia. Self hypnosis is a great way to relax and you are still aware of your surroundings.

You can go to. a hypnotherapist, get hypnotized and learn how to hypnotize yourself to reduce stress of flying.

I do have problems with putting my rolling bag up above and i have to ask. I find a big man who is youngish and looks healthy. He is usually very glad to help me.

Keep in mind that when you ask for help, you are giving someone the opportunity to work on their karma or whatever by helping you. You are blessing the person you ask to help you.

I am old and I look old and it is ok. People want to help me and I like being helped.

I take one cruise a year. I spend a few days pre cruise and post cruise and that requires a lot of planning but once I get on the ship, it is more or less "smooth sailing" . You unpack once during the cruise. You get your room, lots of food, entertainment, transportation etc. I take excursions through the cruise line.

A cruise is not to everyone's liking but I easily can recommend a cruise. especially for us old folks.

If it falls in your budget, I recommend shuttle services or taxi services to and from the places that you need to get to such as airports, hotels, etc

And as some have suggested, consider a guided travel tour that caters to the old. (I hate the word elderly) Just color me old. I think that Gate 1 does that

I make out a list of things to do the month before travel. I am beginning to notify credit cards and others about my travel. A few days ago, I got money out of my ATM and also purchased euros and pounds. I have packed my passport and am beginning to pack my technology.

And so it goes. it is a very simple list. For travel, I like lists and I am not. a list person.

I also do a huge cleaning which I began about 6 weeks ago and I do it slowly so that I won't overdo.

I will keep traveling until the cruise lines and airlines refuse me service due to my age. Then I will take buses and trains until they refuse me service due to my age.

Posted by
22976 posts

Boston ...... You know you can just retire on the cruise ship. We do that in the winter. For the past ten years or more in Jan and Feb we just grab any ship cruising in the Caribbean. Sometimes stay on the same ship for a couple of runs, or shift ship as needed. Much cheaper than renting a condo in Florida.

Posted by
1527 posts

I am 80 (and a little bit more). I have done several of the suggestions above. However, the biggest stress relief came from planning to arrive on tour one day early. On my last trip, I had two delayed fights and a resulting missed flight. With the extra day, there was no stress at all. If, I did not have that extra day, I would have been "wound tight".

Posted by
1539 posts

Hi Frank in CO

I have heard of people permanently retiring on a cruise ship. I think they were able to buy a cabin and i heard that it sometimes was less to do this than retire other ways.

Although I stil have enough money saved to take one cruise a year, I do not have enough to retire on a. cruise ship. There is only enough to take one cruise a year and that is why I make such a production out of my one cruise.

My next one is less than a month away and I am both very excited and nervous (a lot to do). I always feel that I will not be able to get it all done before leaving but I always do.

Posted by
6391 posts
  1. Plan, plan, plan and document EVERYTHING in exhaustive detail, have all your info beautifully organized so everything is instantly available all the time (I spend the previous year researching and organizing all my info). I find that knowing that every single detail can be immediately accessed vastly reduces stress for me. For my upcoming trip, my "book" is just shy of 50 pages. I bring electronic and paper versions, copies for both me and my spouse. I also have a 10-page Pre-Travel Checklist (obviously, very detailed) which saves my bacon every trip in the months/weeks/days/hours before heading out the door. The very last item on the checklist: "Relax and enjoy the adventure ahead."

  2. I budget plenty of time for all tasks, especially those on day-of-departure and while en route. I would so much rather have extra time to kill waiting at the airport than fret over whether we will make our flight or not. Zero stress is my goal for flight day.

  3. Massage. Yep, get a nice, relaxing, deep-tissue massage at the departure airport, after check-in, before flight time. Most major international airports have massage businesses in them. Plan to spend 30 minutes (or longer) getting worked over before you head to the lounge or the gate (be sure to budget time for this in your day-of-departure day-of-departure plan is a full page). I find the massage makes a huge difference and is well worth the small cost. It's a really wonderful way to begin your journey and the afterglow stays with you.

  4. If I'm crossing an ocean, I'm doing it in business class. That way I get a seat that's both a window and an aisle seat (and one that also converts to a decent bed for sleeping). It's definitely a splurge, but I arrive rested, relaxed, ready to hit the ground running, and most of all, happy. This effectively "buys" me an extra day of usable time on the trip (since I don't need to spend a full day recovering from the trauma of getting there...getting there is actually a pleasure). Remember: Our "time on the ground" at our destination is the single most limited resource we have. Arriving with a smile on my face and a spring in my step is worth it to me.

  5. Slow down a bit and savor things. While I do still try to cram in a lot while traveling, I increasingly steer clear of "one-night stands" or at least greatly minimize them.

Lots of other good suggestions above.

Posted by
8241 posts

Positive frame of mind, flexibility if something doesn’t work out, willingness to ask for help, getting the proper amount of rest and remembering you are privileged to able to afford travel. Respect that.

Posted by
84 posts

I’m curious, do any of you older travelers take out medical emergency/evacuation insurance? If so, has that become more important to you as you age?

Posted by
1539 posts


I buy cruise insurance through my cruise line and I buy flight insurance through my airline.

And that is it. I am one of the persons who does not review my policies. I try but I do not understand them.

Of course, I have my credit cards. I might get some insurance through them

I do not buy medical evacuation insurance or any additional health insurances which I think are very expensive.

I guess that Medicare will not cover anything at all when abroad.

I travel not expecting anything unusually bad to happen. Color me naive or maybe dumb.

Posted by
132 posts

Bostonphil7, I think I would put you in the naive category. Basically you have chosen to self insure, particularly with respect to health insurance. That decision is your's to make. If you have the financial resources it may be a good decision for you. But you should make that decision with full information. I encourage you to spend the time needed to make a decision that works for you.

For your consideration (and others on this thread) here are some potential expenses you may have not considered:

  1. Heath care aboard cruise ships can be expensive and you have no options. Any significant medical issue from a broken bone to a heart attack can easily generate bills well into the thousands. In addition, the cruise line has the sole option to put you ashore at their next port where you will be pretty much on your own.
  2. Health care in Europe is usually good and also reasonably priced compared to the USA. However, if you have a problem in a country without good hospitals arranging transfer to another country can be difficult, especially if you are ill. Good medical insurance will arrange this and will cover it 100%.
  3. If you have to discontinue your cruise or tour, for example, say with a broken leg or other physically limiting condition, you will have to arrange last minute lodging and likely reschedule your return air travel. That can be extremely expensive. There is a thread on the main forum from a person with a medical problem faced with a change fee of $4000 on British Air. And, of course, last minute booking of hotels can be difficult to impossible and certainly more expensive.
  4. The benefits of the miscellaneous coverages such as lost baggage, trip delay or interuption etc. are rather often useful.
  5. Insurance offered by airlines and cruise companies are generally considered to be poor values - expensive for the limited coverage. CC "free" insurance usually has significant limitations and exclusions. if relying on these you should read the policy to be sure you are getting what you expect.

Yes, trip insurance is expensive and goes up with age. Your age, health, risk tolerance and the particular risks of your trip should all be factors in you decision.

Posted by
22976 posts

Kirstin --- I’m curious, do any of you older travelers take out medical emergency/evacuation insurance?..... Yes we do. In fact we carry a year policy that will get us home anytime we are more than 500 miles from home. That is the one insurance we consider critical. We can handle nickel, dime stuff but if it is serious I want to get home. I am 81 so am getting to the age when things happen unexpected.

Posted by
84 posts

Frank, what policy do you use? I’m considering the evac type policy for my next trip, as I think that’s useful whatever one’s age, so always interested in others’ experiences.

Posted by
840 posts

I am 70 and DW is somewhat younger. We carry an Altrips Premier Plan from Allianz and a MedJet Horizon evacuation policy. The Allianz Policy will get us to a hospital, MedJet will get us to our hospital at home. As for stress, we exercise each day when home and on the road. Most days we walk over 15,000 steps.

Posted by
3134 posts

I’m curious, do any of you older travelers take out medical emergency/evacuation insurance?.....

-My husband/partner is 82. If he doesn't want to go though the effort to get pre-approved by MedjetAssist (and he hasn't yet) due to his age, he goes with GeoBlue, which also has evacuation coverage. It's not as easy as Medjetassist to return home, but it will still eventually get him home, like most travel policies. Coverage is easy in the early 70's. There are not as many good policies to chose from when you get into your 80's for obvious reasons.
-Not quite in my 70's, I take out MedJetAssist.

For relieving stress for the travel portion, we take the day flight, and then sleep in a luxurious bed at the Sofitel before continuing on to our destination in Europe.

Posted by
18 posts

Like Wray's husband/partner, I am also in the age group that requires pre-approval from MedJet. My concern is asking my wonderful but highly overworked primary care physician to add to his workload by providing the documentation. In addition, if evacuation is required, I worry that my physician might be called upon to provide even more documentation or to justify his initial pre-approval assessment. Therefore, thank you Wray for alerting me to the other evacuation insurer.

Posted by
5102 posts

I’m curious, do any of you older travelers take out medical emergency/evacuation insurance? If so, has that become more important to you as you age?

Kirsten, I'm 68 and I've recently started getting medical evacuation insurance. I think it is well worth the cost. I have a Medigap plan through BCBS and they are affiliated with GeoBlue, which is what I purchase. I haven't had to use it yet, knock on wood, but I love BCBS and have heard nothing but good things about GeoBlue.

Posted by
84 posts

Thanks for the replies! I’ve just seen that AARP members get up to 20% off MedJet policies — in case that helps anyone using/considering that option.