eiffel tower

Trisha and John Parker

 

Tips For Seniors Traveling Abroad

Having recently returned from an incredible travel adventure to Italy and France, I thought it might be beneficial to share a few travel tips for those considering such a trip.

1. If you plan on driving while in a foreign country, make sure you check in with your insurance agent. In most cases they will advise you to purchase additional coverage from the rental car company in the country you are visiting. This is important because when renting a car in the U. S., if your coverage is like mine, the rental car’s coverage is typically not necessary.

2. When possible, book a hotel in the middle of the cities you want to visit. Most foreign countries have rapid transit much better than ours and you can travel easily through most of them. Often, the entire country is connected by efficient rail systems. On our recent trip to Italy, we became very familiar with the Milan train station as we traveled through it several times. Of course, the way most foreign cities have been centrally designed, once there, you can walk to most of your destinations.

3. Because we are all connected to our smart phones, don’t feel you have to get expensive extended coverage while abroad. Most hotels, restaurants, coffee houses, etc., have free Wifi. To stay in communication back home, we simply sign up for a $10 universal texting plan. It gives you peace of mind in case you need to contact a family member or friend. Otherwise, forget you have a phone and enjoy your trip.

4. As a senior, there is a registration program the U. S. government offers that will also provide an extra sense of security while abroad. Here is the link for registration. This will give your family members an extra way to communicate with you in case of emergency. Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

5. Take your personal safety and security seriously. In most countries you will visit, you probably won’t have to worry about major crime. The fact is, petty crime such as pick pockets, etc., exists in all cities. Keep your passport, credit cards, cash, travel tickets, and I.D. in a hidden travel belt. I have always resisted this suggestion, but during our long recent trip, I decided to wear one and found it quite convenient.

6. If you have any other questions about your health and safety in a country you plan to visit, here are two more links that will keep you informed:

Current Travel Warnings and Current Travel Alerts

Bon Voyage

 

I remember the great first line of one of my favorite books by M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult.”  If you haven’t had the good fortune to read Dr. Peck’s philisophical masterpiece, his basic premise is that in our culture we are taught life should always be perfect and wonderful, leaving us vulnerable and unprepared to deal with the harsh realities. While my wife Trisha and I  try our best to maintain positive attitudes, our recent struggles dealing with my father’s health crisis have brought us face-to-face with some very difficult issues and tested every aspect of our mental, emotional, and physical strength.

The good news is virtually every time over the last few weeks we began to feel completely overwhelmed, a family member or friend would stop by, offer encouragement over the phone, or send us a supportive email or card. While not every one of our family members or friends are seniors, they certainly have been providing us with our own personal “Senior Support System.” After each phone call or other message, we have taken a deep breath and smiled at the wonderful sense of not being alone during this difficult time. It has been very reassuring and reminded us of a very simple concept: we all have the capacity to provide support and encouragement for our fellow human beings. What better gift can we share with one another?

For some this may seem a bit cliche and melodramatic, but from this side of the support coin, nothing could be more true and valuable. Thank you to those who have been so supportive (you know who you are). Both Trisha and I aspire to be as thoughtful and play a part in providing others with their “Senior Support System” when those times present themselves.

Life can be difficult indeed, but each of us can help make those times bearable.

John Parker

www.TheBestofOurLives.com