7 Travel tips for the older traveller

You may be regarded as a senior traveller and are still be fighting fit, but if you’re planning a holiday with elderly relatives, check out the tips below to help ensure you’re prepared and are booking the right type of holiday.

  1. Suitability
    When you’re looking into a particular holiday make sure you know its position and its suitability for elderly holidaymakers. For example, where is the accommodation situated? Is the hotel or apartment set high up on a hill? Or on flat, level ground? Make sure it’s not located near to loud bars and clubs. If mobility is an issue, does it have wheelchair access? If you can’t find out this information readily online, then pop into your travel agent – they will have a book detailing all the ins and outs of their accommodation.
  2. Airport Assistance Services
    UK airports are required to offer assistance to passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) – not just disabled people but anyone that has difficulty walking. This help can include a more in-depth service such as meeting you at arrival, aiding check-in and taking a passenger though to boarding. Alternatively, help can be arranged for travelling between the departure lounge and the sometimes-lengthy walks to the boarding gates.
  3. Temperature
    Not all travellers like the heat. Perhaps your elderly relative loves nothing more than high temperatures, however many don’t, so make sure the average seasonal temperatures are acceptable. Alternatively, look at going at a different time of the year.
  4. Travel Insurance
    Travel insurance is a must, so make sure the traveller has good quality travel insurance with a high level of medical cover. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared or they could risk not being covered if they become ill whilst overseas.
  5. Luggage
    If possible use suitcases that are easily manoeuvrable, with wheels and a long extendable handle. And where possible, pack light.
  6. Deep Vein Thrombosis
    Elderly passengers are considered to have a higher risk of getting DVT. Ensure simple DVT exercises are carried out throughout the flight – for example, stretching out ones legs underneath the seat in front. Also, lifting up onto the toes and holding for a few seconds, then repeating for 10, then the reverse, stretching the legs onto the heels, holding and repeating. Also try to move around the cabin as much as possible.
  7. Meet and Greet Airport Parking
    If you’re driving to the airport and need airport parking, think about booking meet and greet parking, which is ideal for elderly passengers and those with limited mobility. Simply drive right up to the airport terminal, meet your driver and go straight through into the airport to check-in. This type of parking negates the need to park your own car, either at the on- or the off-airport car parks. On your return from holiday, you will be met by your driver who will be waiting for you, with your vehicle in the same place you left it, warmed up and ready to drive home.

Flying with electrical mobility aids – inform your airline in advance

The older we get the more likely we are to suffer from reduced mobility and need assistance when travelling through an airport.

Under European law air passengers who are disabled or have difficulty moving around, whether due to age, disability, or a temporary injury, can receive assistance when flying to and from Europe.

While passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) are concerned about how they will get through the airport and board their flights and what happens on arrival, passengers using electric mobility aids, including wheelchairs and scooters, should also be concerned about making sure they can take them on board the plane.

Not only do passengers need to inform their airline at the time of booking, or at least 48 hours prior to departure, that they require assistance through the airport and onto the aircraft, they should also inform their airline of their electrical wheelchair / scooter to make certain that it can be accepted into the aircraft hold.

Under European law the carriage of electrical mobility aids is subject to 24-hour notice – however, if you need to travel at short notice, airports and airlines must do their best to accommodate the passenger.

There are certain safety requirements and preparations required for the safe loading of electric mobility aids onto aircraft – there have been several incidents involving electric mobility equipment in recent years, including an electric wheelchair which caught fire as it was being unloaded from an aircraft at Manchester Airport in 2008.

European Regulation places obligations on travel agents, tour operators, aircraft operators and airport operators designed to enable a disabled person or a person of reduced mobility to travel by air with an electric mobility aid, including the ground handling and carriage of such devices, subject to compliance with dangerous goods requirements.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has recently launched an industry-wide campaign to highlight the safety requirement and obligations for the preparation and loading of electric mobility equipment. They’ve also produced a great video detailing what should happen, and why, and, although the video is meant for airports, airlines and anyone else involved in the assistance and transportation of passengers with reduced mobility and their electrical equipment, it is well worth a view to enable you to understand how important it is for airlines to be informed of electrical mobility equipment in advance and demonstrates that they’re not being awkward, they really do need to know!

Catch the video below:

Travel increases with age

Age doesn’t seem to be slowing down our desire to travel. In fact, according to research, the older we get, the more we travel.

Research carried out by Age UK Enterprises revealed that almost a third of Age UK travel insurance policies were bought by people aged 80 and over. While, 20% of policies were taken out by customers aged 65 – 69 and travellers aged 70 – 74 years accounted for another 20% of sales.

Age UK Enterprises, which is the commercial arm of the Age UK charity, also reports that over the past three years it has witnessed a 20% increase in annual policies sold to travellers aged 50 and above, indicating that these customers are taking more than one holiday per year.

Managing director of Age UK Enterprises, Gordon Morris, said: “We believe it’s wrong that so many travel insurance providers impose a maximum age limit which excludes older people purely because of their age.

“People should be able to fulfil their travel aspirations – no matter how old they are. This is why it’s so important they can access products like Age UK travel insurance, that have no upper age limit and provide appropriate cover for their needs.”

CAA unveils flight comparison chart

Finding cheap flights for a holiday or to visit friends and family abroad can prove to be a nightmare. What initially looks like a bargain flight, often bears no resemblance to the advertised price when you finally part with your credit card details.

Optional extras, some of which you may have thought were, or rather should have been, included in the price of your ticket, soon bump up the price.

In the past, I’ve seen flight prices more than double because of taxes and charges. Fortunately, the days of airlines adding on taxes and charges to the advertised ticket price are over, however, airlines still have lots of extras that they can surprise you with. When you take into consideration these extras, such as, checked-in baggage charges, pre-booking seats, meals and drinks, card payment charges, transaction charges, and, sometimes, airport check-in fees, your ticket price has far exceeded your expected purchase price.

These added charges can make it extremely difficult to compare budget airline ticket prices with traditional airlines.

From today, things may have become a little bit easier thanks to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which has unveiled a chart that compares airline charges for 24 airlines operating scheduled flights in the UK.

The chart lists airlines and their charges for the following ‘extras’:

  • Check-in
  • Priority boarding
  • Text message confirmation
  • Sports equipment charges
  • Checked-in luggage – weights and fees
  • Reserved seating
  • Meals
  • Other charges – including name changes
  • Charges applied when paying by various cards.

The chart is a great tool and could help travellers save money on their flights, perhaps by identifying which airline would be cheaper when taking all aspects into consideration.

The CAA aims to update its airline comparison chart quarterly – you can find it here

Have you ever been caught out by airline charges that you were unaware of? Possibly you didn’t find out until you were checking in, or perhaps you had a shock when you came to pay for what you thought was a cheap flight. If so, feel free to let us know in the comments below.

Big hikes in travel insurance for over 65s

If you’re looking to buy travel insurance for your next holiday you could be in for a big surprise.

The Daily Mail has recently reported that some insurance companies are hiking up the price of over 65’s travel insurance by as much as 100% or more!

The report, which details a Money Mail investigation, found that several high-street insurers had increased annual holiday insurance prices from £163 to as much as £361.

It’s not just the price of insurance that has changed, watch out for the small print in policies too, as according to the report, not only has the price of travel insurance risen significantly, but also some travel insurers have rewritten their policies and increased excesses.

Travel insurance is an absolute necessity when travelling and, although the price of insurance pales in to insignificance when compared to the possibility of hefty hospital bills and the cost of repatriation if you were to fall ill abroad, there should be some restriction on the amount an insurance company can charge the senior traveller. Expensive holiday insurance costs could prevent some travellers from taking holidays, prevent grandparents from visiting children and grandchildren living abroad, or could lead to older travellers taking risks and travelling without insurance.

Tips to find cheaper travel insurance

When looking for travel insurance, always shop around

  • Don’t take the first policy that is offered to you, or the standard insurance offered by airlines when booking tickets
  • Try a search on a few price comparison websites
  • Always read the small print
  • Make sure that you are covered for any activities you plan to do, but equally, don’t pay for cover for activities you will never do
  • Don’t pay for an annual policy if you only take one holiday a year.

It may be tempting to withhold existing medical conditions to reduce the cost of travel insurance, but don’t. Failure to disclose any pre existing health problems could invalidate your insurance.

For the full Daily Mail article including insurance companies surveyed and their price increases click here.

If you have any tips on ways to reduce the cost of travel insurance, or have encountered problems trying to obtain insurance for your holiday, please feel free to comment below.

Christmas flights – a guide to hand luggage restrictions

The countdown to Christmas has begun, and if you are flying this Christmas, you’re bound to be taking Christmas presents with you.

It’s always nice to surprise your hosts at the airport with a small Christmas present, however, if you plan to carry presents in your hand luggage you do need to make sure they are permitted in your hand luggage.

Hand baggage limits vary from airline to airline and what is acceptable by one airline may prove too large or too heavy for another and will mean you have to check your bag into the hold, incurring extra charges.

It’s advisable to check your airline’s website for size and weight restrictions, however, as a guide, you will find most airlines only permit one piece of hand luggage per passenger.

Hand baggage restrictions

Hand baggage sizes vary but generally it should be no larger than 56 x 45 x 25cm (22 x 17.7 x 10 inches) including wheels, handles and outside pockets – these dimensions are the maximum size you are allowed to carry – some airlines specify smaller hand luggage sizes – always check your airline’s website for details.

Liquids in hand luggage rules
Liquids, including gels and aerosols can only be carried in containers of 100ml or less. Any container larger than 100ml, even if it’s only partially full, will be confiscated at security. All liquid items must be placed in a transparent, re-sealable bag no larger than 20cm by 20cm – a re-sealable freezer bag will be okay. It’s best to prepare this before you get to the airport to save yourself time, hassle and sometimes expense – while some airports give away clear plastic bags free of charge, some airports charge!

Don’t forget, liquids include mascara, lip gloss, jams etc., so if the presents you are carrying in your hand baggage contain liquids, they must be of less than 100ml and they must be placed in your re-sealable plastic bag.

Prohibited items in hand luggage
You may think you’re just carrying a harmless Christmas present but if it contains a prohibited item you will have it confiscated at security. A child’s water pistol or catapult, tools, any item that could be used as a potential weapon will not be allowed through security.

Carrying Christmas items

Christmas Crackers
Some airports and airlines permit the transportation of Christmas crackers, however, many don’t. Where they are permitted, airlines usually only permit them in checked-in baggage, as some crackers contain banned items, such as scissors and screw drivers. Generally, there is also a limit on quantity carried, and are usually limited to commercially made crackers in sealed boxes.

Check with your airline before attempting to take Christmas crackers on a plane.

Party poppers
Party poppers are regarded as explosive items and are therefore banned on aircraft.

Sparklers, whether indoor or outdoor, along with fireworks are banned from aircraft.

Don’t wrap presents that are carried in your hand luggage
It’s advisable not to wrap any presents that are carried in your hand luggage as they may be subject to extra checks at security and will therefore require unwrapping.