TOP TIPS: Seniors' travel made easier
FOR many years escorting groups to various locations on the planet, I have found there are a few simple travel tips that will reduce stress and make your journey much more enjoyable. Here are three:
Backpacks are best
THE rest of the world is not laser-levelled flat like the paths and streets in Australia and my biggest fear for my clients as a tour guide/escort are falls. Aussies are not used to coping with the unevenness of the cobblestones that are found everywhere in the UK or Europe, or the uneven ground you find in many places in Asia, South America and Africa.
My mantra when travelling internationally is hands-free walking so if you do trip or stumble at least you can break your fall with a free hand. A sprained or broken wrist can be repaired fairly easily but a broken hip means an immediate end to the trip and a long, painful journey home.
Including a backpack in your luggage provides this hands-free touring and, if you are worried about pickpockets, a few simple locks will soon deter the stealthiest of fingers. For those who feel naked without a handbag I know it's a hard habit to break, however the benefits far outweigh any possible inconvenience. And, of course, you can store a lot more in a backpack, like a bottle of water, or energy giving chocolate or souvenirs you might buy.
Put in a bit of training
I KNOW this sounds glaringly obvious, but if you can institute a small walking regime before your trip you will see a lot more on your travels.
I was recently escorting a group on a European river cruise which had a side trip to Prague that included a 5km downhill stroll from a castle to the middle of Prague.
My eldest client was 94, she had put in so much effort walking every day prior to her trip that, she could "keep up with the 60-year-olds" and she didn't miss a thing.
If she can do it at 94, we all can, because travelling is often about walking and climbing steps and stairs. Even if you just lift your mobility level from five stairs to ten, in the end you will benefit exponentially.
One-night wonders are not worth the savings
WHEN choosing a coach tour, look carefully at the itinerary.
Two or three night stays allow you to see and enjoy everything. One night stays are just ticking off that you have been there and they are, frankly, exhausting.
Tours of Canada and Alaska are perfect examples of why one-night wonders are false economies. Canada is bigger than Australia and the distance needed to be travelled some days exceeds 500km. That's a long way to go to find out you don't have the time to experience the place.
My advice is to allocate enough time and money for a relaxed trip, rather than spending the majority of your holiday in a seat on a tour bus - and, if the budget won't stretch, remember, less is more.
* James Cracknell is the owner and manager of three travel agencies and has been escorting tours for more than 20 years. firstname.lastname@example.org