Thoughtful Travel Tips

Just for you

Go anywhere….just prepare!

Got a dream adventure in mind, but wondering if you can really do it? SURE YOU CAN!  You can take and enjoy a trip to any destination, at any age, with thoughtful preparation.

Each traveler is a unique adventurer…even when traveling in a group. Every individual has particular likes, dislikes, sensitivities, questions and concerns which make getting answers a high priority before making a travel commitment. Seek out a good travel planner or adventure leader who offers individualized service; one who is eager to answer questions, allay fears, and assist with special arrangements.

Sometimes those of us who have entered into the “wisdom time of life” (read…second half plus) think vacations to destinations requiring overseas travel, longer periods of time, or navigating unfamiliar territory are just not in the cards. Well, this “aged” traveler is here to tell you, “it ain’t so!” Thoughtful preparation is the key.

Thoughtful Travel Prep eases travel anxiety, calms the nerves and reduces pre-trip stress. Here are some important questions to ask, and some tried-and-true travel tips to help with your travel planning and decision making:

  • What area/region of the US/world do you REALLY want to visit?
  • If traveling out of country, do you have a valid passport that does NOT expire within 6 months of your return?  If you need a passport, go to a local municipal office or online
  • Is having a travel companion a must? If so, can you easily be with him/her for an extended period? If you don’t have someone to travel with, can you be comfortable in a group? Will your travel agent/group leader assist in finding a travel partner for you?
  • Do you want to share a hotel room or have a single room?
  • What is your budget (include TOTAL trip cost & personal spending)?
  • What is the trip payment schedule? What is the travel company’s cancellation policy?
  • Explore optional travel protection insurance.
  • What type of vacation suits you:
  • Slow, moderate, active or rigorous itinerary?
  • Air, sea, motor coach travel, rental car (or combination)?
  • With a large group? Small group? Family group? Just you?
  • 4/5-Star accommodation or mid-range? Do you want to prepare meals or dine at local eateries?
  • How long do you want to be gone from home?
  • Are you more interested in seeing the sites/meeting locals/experiencing the art & culture, or relaxing at a resort or on a cruise?
  • Is the destination considered safe? Talk to someone who has recently visited the destination.
  • What is the climate & weather like during your travel time at your destination? Does that suit you?
  • Pack lightly…1 carry-on; 1 mid-size luggage on wheels; 1 across-chest purse/pouch
  • Bring 2 pairs of comfortable, well-worn shoes.
  • Do you need special accommodation: wheelchair, dietary needs, aisle seating on plane, first or upper floor hotel room, no steps, handicap access room, etc?
  • If air travel, is this your first time on a plane or overseas flight? What to expect?
  • Do you need inoculations to visit your destination?
  • If you are under doctor’s care, are you cleared for travel?
  • Pack more than enough supply of medications (in case of delayed return).
  • Read-up on your destination. Try travel books by Rick Steves, Arthur Frommer, Eugene Fodor, Patricia Schultz.

Remember, if you REALLY want to travel to that special place on your bucket list, trip planning and preparation are your ticket. And remember to always get your pressing questions answered well in advance of departure and talk to your friends about their travel experiences.

Here are a few interesting anecdotes from travelers who adventured with me…

Recently, a friend of mine chose to travel as a single and joined a group itinerary to Europe. He said, “it was like traveling with family you enjoy!” In fact, several members of the “travel family” were at-the-ready to assist with luggage and wheelchair access while navigating the international airports. This single traveler refused to let limited mobility prevent his adventure or limit his enjoyment.

My 84-year old girl friend from Philadelphia just returned from a Panama Canal cruise raving about her adventure and all she learned about the world-famous locks and gargantuan tanker ships piled skyward with countless containers. She was impressed to learn that another canal is being built parallel to the existing one to accommodate voluminous ship traffic to/from the Pacific seas. However, she was not impressed with her prowess at the bridge table!

Another recent traveler took her very first flight at age 67. When preparing to board her transatlantic flight to Ireland, she was asked to step aside by airport security. She took the search in stride and asked for a photo to document the event. She later said, “Even though my heart was racing during the security search, it was an exciting way to start my adventure.”

Whether you are traveling as a single, taking your first flight, need special accommodation, or visiting a place on earth where you have never been before, know you CAN do it with thoughtful preparation, a positive attitude, and a good plan!

Happy Travelin’

Melina Carnicelli