How to Survive Long Flights as a Senior

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How to Survive Long Flights as a Senior

As baby boomers continue to change what it means to be a senior, senior travel has become increasingly common. Longer life expectancy, a greater income, and a higher quality of life are leading seniors across international waters on a worldwide adventure. Learn more about senior travel and get tips to keep you and your loved ones comfortable on those long flights.

Senior Travel Trends

A 2016 online survey from AARP found that practically all (99%) of seniors traveled to plan that year with four or five trips on their calendars. The survey also found that,

  • 45% of seniors plan to travel domestically and internationally
  • 5% of seniors plan to travel only internationally
  • 66% said budget had no impact on travel plans and higher airfares were not an issue
  • Europe and the Caribbean were key destinations for international travelers
  • Florida, Las Vegas, California, New York, and Hawaii were key destinations for domestic travelers

Another study investigated why seniors are traveling internationally and found that seniors today have a higher quality of life, an increased income, and a longer life expectancy is driving seniors to travel greater distances.

12 Tips for Surviving Long Flights

Today’s boomers are not hindered by geographical distance. So, how do seniors stay comfortable on long flights? Here are X tips to help you and your loved one travel safely (and comfortably) on long flights.

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  1. Think through any medication you or your loved one will need on the flight and have it with you.
  2. Ask the airline about any assistance they can provide like a wheelchair or a cart and ask them to have it ready and waiting on landing.
  3. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. If the flight is very long, you might want to consider packing a change of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on.
  4. Bring noise-canceling headphones and an eye mask to sleep better in what can be a busy and distracting environment.
  5. Charge all electronic devices and bring chargers on the plane with you. Many planes have chargers and USB ports to charge your devices in the air.
  6. Have hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes readily available to wipe down your seat and tray before eating.
  7. Choose your seat in advance. A seat next to a window will give you something to lean on to sleep but an aisle seat will give you more space to stretch your legs.
  8. Set a timer to walk the aisles of the airplane every hour. This can help prevent blood clots that are more likely on long flights.
  9. Bring games and a book. Should your electronic devices fail, have a deck of cards, a travel game, or a good book ready to keep you entertained.
  10. Bring snacks and water. Do not rely on airline food. They may be serving something you are allergic to, something you don’t like, or they may run out of food. Don’t be stuck hungry and thirsty.
  11. If you are taking a sleep aid to help mitigate the effects of jet lag, try it in advance. You don’t want your first time taking medication to be on the airplane where negative side effects cannot be treated. 
  12. Be patient and have fun! International airline travel can be confusing and jet lag can be disorientating. Take deep breaths and work with your travel companions to get to your destination safely and stress-free while remembering why you are traveling in the first place – to have fun!

How do you prepare for long flights as a senior or with a senior loved one? Share your tips with us in the comments below!

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About the author

Alissa has been working in marketing and the senior living industry for over 8 years. With a B.S. in advertising from the University of Illinois, Alissa has worked all over the world as a freelance communications strategist and writer. Published in Forbes, Senior Finance Advisor, Alzheimers.net and on other leading senior care blogs, she leverages her working knowledge of the senior care industry with leading research and best practices to create engaging content benefitting seniors and their caregivers. In her free time, Alissa loves to travel, read, cook, and spend time with her family.