Our Top 6 Round-the-World Tips for Older Travelers

Top 6 Senior Travel Tips from AirTreks Staff

Navigating multi-city and round-the-world travel can be tricky, especially for older travelers and those with mobility or health concerns.

But it doesn't have to be. Read on for our best tips for a better RTW experience, no matter your age.

 

At AirTreks, we want to help you make your RTW dream a reality and speak to any pressing questions or doubts you may have about how to make long-haul and complex trips as comfortable as possible, no matter your age, health, or other circumstances. Our Team has decades of experience booking complex trips and keeping them on track for travelers so that they can have a better experience on the road. 

Here are six of our team’s best tips for staying healthy (and comfortable) and making the most of multi-stop and long-term travel at any age:

1. Make Smarter Connections

Where you connect affects more than the minimum connection time. Connecting in massive airports like Los Angeles and London Heathrow can mean dragging your carry-on across multiple terminals and rushing through long lines at passport control to make your next flight. Inclement weather in hubs like Chicago O’Hare and Boston can cause cancellations and delays. However you slice it, the airports you connect in make a big difference when it comes to your overall flight experience and allowing enough time to make your connection considering your circumstances (luggage, mobility) is key.

“You want to have at least four hours when entering in major Hubs like London, Los Angeles, Chicago etc.  The TSA will be stricter and it may take longer.  The best for me are Munich or Zurich.  Always check and see if you’re transferring through the same terminal when making tighter connections.”
 –Chris Wadsworth, Senior Travel Consultant

“For me, the best airports to connect in are Amsterdam, Zurich, Vienna. The worst are Chicago O’Hare, JFK, London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle.”
–Anthy Kapsalis, Travel Services

“Often smaller airports are better for connections. The worst are large airports with many different terminals such as Heathrow and Manila, although if you are connecting on the same airline in the same terminal, it’s not so bad. Weather’s also a factor in delays and missed connections. Avoid connecting in places like Chicago or Boston in the winter.”
–David Derrick, Director of Air Product

“Any airport is tough for tight connections. I try to always give myself at least an hour between flights. For international to domestic flights, you will always have to clear customs, so I look at what the airport advertises as the minimum time, then try to add a bit more. For instance, if the minimum time is 2 hours, I try to give 3 just in case. Especially for travel during the holidays!!”
–Sara Tiffany, Product Manager

“LAX is terrible for making a tight connection. It’s my least favorite airport for a wide variety of reasons. My hometown airport of St. Louis is great because it’s tiny and rarely crowded.”
Adam Seper, Personal Travel Consultant

2. Add A Stopover

Pretty much everyone agrees on this one. Jetlag’s the worst. The human body simply wasn’t designed to fly across multiple time zones in short order. For children and travelers over 60, adjusting to a new time zone can be even more difficult.

The good news is there’s a simple, and often money-saving solution to this problem: adding at least one stopover in each direction decreases the schedule shock for your body. A stopover also means seeing somewhere new, sometimes for little, no, or reduced cost. Not sure what a stopover even is or how to book one? Read more in How To Plan And Book A Stopover and Stopovers: Add Value to Your Trip.

Senior Travel tips from AirTreks

Sara Tiffany, Product Manager

“If you have 2 long connecting flights back-to-back (USA to Africa via Europe, for example), book a stopover in the connecting city for at least a night. You’ll be so much more comfortable if you can afford the extra time!”
–Sara Tiffany, Product Manager

“Minimize connections and long layovers, or do the opposite and stopover at an intermediate point for a day or so if you are going far.”
–David Derrick, Director of Air Product

“Add a stopover en route – especially if there is a big time zone difference. A 24-48hrs stop along the way, helps your body better deal with jetlag .”
–Anthy Kapsalis, Travel Services

3. Be Careful What You Consume

While some travelers may use being on the road as an excuse for eating out all the time, and binging on junk and alcohol, most of our travel experts on staff agree that what you put in your body directly affects your well-being on your big trip. Being careful about the things you put in your body before and during your flight, as well as at destination, can make a real difference in your health and how able you are to get out and explore at destination.

Street food and alcohol may points of contention for some, but we’d argue that avoiding certain foods and drinks altogether isn’t always necessary–the same rules of moderation for health you’d use at home can also be applied on the road.

Adam Seper, Personal Travel Consultant

Adam Seper, Personal Travel Consultant

“I know most will disagree with me, citing dehydration concerns, but I have a few drinks in the airport bar before boarding a long flight. I do not sleep well on planes/trains/buses, so it just helps me relax and actually get a bit of sleep. Now that I have a couple young kids, I probably won’t be able to do this anymore (we haven’t taken them on a long flight yet), but cocktails pre-flight was always my go-to strategy for a more enjoyable flight”
Adam Seper, Personal Travel Consultant

“I always make sure there’s a way for me to cook my own meals wherever I stay or access to healthy, affordable food nearby. A lot of the places I’ve been to have great markets all around but plenty are food deserts, when I get to those places I normally ask around for the best places to buy fresh produce.”
–Matt Bautista, Travel Ambassador

“One option is staying away from street food, especially if a stand seems slow (busy places are usually safer) or  doesn’t look sanitary.  You also may want to look into Probiotics while traveling and even before.  Taking them may help you build up a little more tolerance for foreign foods.”
Chris Wadsworth, Senior Travel Consultant

4. Move Around

Wherever you’re off to, getting up and stretching your legs before, during, and after your flights is the best way to keep any part of your body from getting stiff or sore. Too often people forget that traveling (particularly long-haul multi-leg travel) is hard physical work — stretching isn’t optional. 

Moving around and stretching throughout your flight and at airports between flights will also help you prevent any problems with deep vein thrombosis –these dangerous blood clots are rare but better safe than sorry, right?

Older Traveler Tips

Matt Bautista, Travel Ambassador.

“It’s really helpful to do some simple yoga stretches throughout the journey. People look at you funny when you’re doing downward dog in a terminal but it helps to keep the blood flowing and makes the journey a lot more bearable.”
–Matt Bautista, Travel Ambassador

“Book an aisle seat, and get up and walk around during the flight.”
–Sara Tiffany, Product Manager

“Be active, but be careful not to overexert yourself. Remember, you’re going to be traveling for a while, so slow and steady wins the race.”
–Barbara Segria, Travel Support Specialist

5. Spring For An Upgrade

What’s the best way to fly comfortably? If you’re tall, wide, have back problems or achy joints, are traveling with an infant in arms, or just feel claustrophobic on the plane, chances are your best bet is spending more on your fare with an upgrade to Economy Comfort, Premium Economy, Business or First Class.

Which one is best for you? If you can swing it, either a seat in a separate Premium Economy cabin or Business. 

“If you budget in the extra, business class makes a big difference on longer flights. Economy Comfort or premium economy depend on the airline and the product they are offering: Premium economy in a dedicated premium cabin makes a difference, while upgraded economy seats with extra leg-room in the main economy cabin, aren’t much different.”
–Anthy Kapsalis, Travel Services

“Regarding economy comfort seats, I’d say that if you feel a bit claustrophobic on planes, EC (as I’ll call it) will help. I would say that EC and the separate cabin, premium economy, are good for taller people who want more legroom. Seats in EC are not wider at all and are only usually 1-2″ wider in a separate cabin of premium economy, so not people looking for width! Definitely worth it if you can just purchase an upgrade into the front of the economy cabin.”  
–Kristina Ketelsen, Rate Desk Agent

“It 100% depends on the airline and how tall you are. Seatguru.com has comprehensive information about the differences between regular economy and premium economy products on various airlines/ aircraft. Sometimes it’s only an inch different between economy and the upgraded product, so for my budget it’s not always worth the extra expense.  I’d rather save the $150 and splurge on a true premium economy or business class product on a future flight.  There are also some low cost options for trans-Atlantic business class that can be less than premium economy: check out La Compagnie for a full business class experience from NYC – Paris for $1400 round trip.”
–Sara Tiffany, Product Manager

“Premium economy is about double the cost of regular, so it can get pretty pricey. If you have the extra money, it’s always smart to go ahead and check business class as well (and not always on the same airline – check business on a different airline the flies the same route) – on some routes it’s not much more, and I’ve even seen business class options for less sometimes.”
Adam Seper, Personal Travel Consultant

“Always check on the discounted Business Class fares that we may be able to mix in. It may not cost much more than the Premium Economy fares and you’d get more bang (and comfort) for your buck.”
Chris Wadsworth, Senior Travel Consultant

6. Sign Up For Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is one of those purchases that ranks low on the fun scale for round-the-world travelers, whether they’re Seniors or Gap Year Students.  But it’s an investment in safety and security  that makes great sense for travelers of all ages. We recommend plans that protect you if you get injured or ill and will cover the costs of changing and refunding your travel plans.  

Note: AirTreks pays for travel insurance for all of our RTW and multi-city itineraries to protect our travelers in the case of lost bags and missed connections, but we still recommend signing up for more comprehensive protection.

Travel tips for Seniors from AirTreks

Barbara Segria, Travel Support Specialist

“Travel insurance is always recommended, just in case, especially for senior travelers. Sometimes airlines can be really strict about making changes, for whatever reason, even emergencies. ”
–Barbara Segria, Travel Support Specialist

“Get coverage for events before you leave and also while you are on the road. that way, if something happens and you can’t travel as planned, or get sick overseas, you are fully protected.  Unfortunately, we have seen airlines get more and more restrictive about helping with changes and refunds when people are sick, so having insurance will protect your trip investment!”
 –Sara Tiffany, Product Manager

Read more tips for Senior Travelers below:


Photo Credits:  goodluz, AirTreks Staff ( team member photos not to be used or reproduced without permission).