Senior Travel: 9 Essential Packing Tips

senior travel

According to the AARP, about 67% of people aged 50 and older anticipated traveling in 2022.1 Traveling after retirement is almost a required activity. Many seniors like to spend their new free time seeing the world, and one of the best ways to see a wide variety of places is to go on a tour or cruise. Usually when we think of traveling, we tend to think about only going to one destination, but the beauty of touring or cruising is that you get to visit multiple destinations on the same trip. Seniors think of touring as a great way to expand their worldview and make the most of their time spent traveling, but it isn’t without its downsides.

When touring or cruising, you spend a lot of time going from place to place, which means that when you’re packing for your trip, you have to prepare for long hours on a bus or spending days out at sea. If you’re going on a cruise or renting an RV, one of the largest benefits is that your living space comes with you as you travel, whereas with land tours, you have to be prepared to sleep in a different hotel night after night. This means that you have to be prepared to unpack and re-pack whenever you stop. You also have to make sure that what you pack is appropriate for your different destinations. Because of all this, it’s important to make sure that everything you pack has a purpose and can be useful in multiple scenarios. Items that can be layered or dressed up or down are ideal for just this reason.


Knowing what to pack can be difficult, so we’ve put together the 9 essential items every senior should pack when traveling to help ensure a pleasant experience.

  1. An Extra Pair of Shoes


Seniors know how important it is to always have a comfortable pair of shoes. Exploring a new place can involve a lot of walking, and while most people plan to wear their favorite sneakers for the entire trip with only an occasional exception, it’s always good to have a backup pair of comfortable walking shoes. According to Sole Science, shoes should be replaced every 8-12 months for most people, and this period of time can be even shorter depending on how much you wear your shoes.2 When was the last time you replaced your favorite pair of walking shoes? Worn-out shoes can quickly become a fall risk.


Additionally, when we’re on our feet for long periods of time, our feet can swell, and this tends to happen more when we travel. Elderly feet also tend to be more prone to swelling. Swelling feet can turn your most comfortable pair of shoes into a cramped nightmare, so it's advantageous to bring a back-up pair with some extra wiggle room. Finally, wearing the same pair of shoes every single day while being active on your feet for many hours each day can result in major foot pain, which can also increase your chance of falling. While an Alert1 On-the-Go Medical Alert can make it fast and simple to call for help if you fall, it can’t fix your ruined vacation.

2.                  Sunglasses


Elderly eyes need to be protected from the sun. We usually only think to bring sunglasses when we’re going somewhere warm, but cooler weather doesn’t stop the harmful rays of the sun from reaching your peepers. In addition to sunglasses protecting our eyes from direct sunlight, they also make it easier for us to see in places with a lot of glare. We usually wear sunglasses at the beach because the water will reflect the sun back into our eyes, but this phenomenon also holds true for snowy terrains. Even if there are sub-freezing temperatures, sunglasses can protect our eyes from glare; from snow-topped mountains to smoldering deserts, sunglasses are an essential item for every trip.

3.                  A Brimmed Hat


Much like sunglasses, a brimmed hat can help protect seniors from the sun in any weather, but it also has other useful features that make it an essential item. Not only does the brim protect our faces from the sun, something that is essential when it comes to delicate elderly skin protection, but it also protects our faces from precipitation. In addition to being useful for various kinds of weather, a stylish hat can also make getting ready for the day easier than usual. If you’re someone who usually spends a bit of time doing your hair, and you have to stick to a rigid travel schedule, you can easily save time by wearing a nice hat. When you’re touring, you want to spend your time wisely, but you also want to look nice in your vacation photos, which is why a hat is an essential item for any vacation for both practical and aesthetic reasons.

4.                  Chapstick with SPF


Our bodies are good at falling into a routine, but that means that we are susceptible to environmental changes. We can perceive changes as simple as differences in humidity, and if changes like these lead to chapped lips, they can seem rather unpleasant. While people usually remember to use sunscreen in situations where the sun will be especially bright, the sensitive skin of our lips is often left unprotected. Chapstick with SPF can come in handy in a variety of situations, and because of the environmental changes you’ll experience while traveling, you never know when your lips might start cracking and peeling. Luckily, a tube of Chapstick is so small that it hardly makes a difference when packing it, but having it makes a world of difference, especially when caring for elderly lips.

5.                  Medical Alert Device


When you’re sightseeing, you’re bound to do more walking than usual, and traveling comes with all sorts of risks. Alert1’s senior life-saving alert systems come in handy for a variety of different situations. Medical alert systems with fall detection like Alert1’s On-the-Go Medical Alert System with GPS and Fall Detection can automatically call for help when you fall, even if you’re unable to push the button.4 This is a real asset if you’ll be spending more time on your feet than usual, traversing uneven or rough terrain, or going up and down more stairs than usual. It also comes with a built-in GPS, so help will be able to find you fast even if you’re unsure of your exact location. Our network provides service from coast to coast, and our command centers are staffed 24/7. Alert1 has you covered all throughout the country, so even when you’re far from home, help is always close by with Alert1.

6.                  A Foldable Jacket


Skip the bulky sweatshirts and sweaters! While these items might be the ones we reach for when we’re cold at home, they aren’t necessarily the best for traveling due to limited luggage space. A foldable jacket is a better option for your trip because of its versatility and the small amount of space it takes up in your suitcase. It can keep you warm when you’re chilly and also protect you from precipitation if it happens to be water resistant.


Instead of keeping you warm with extra padding, foldable jackets keep you warm by reflecting your body heat, which makes them much more effective and efficient. We tend to feel colder as we age, so seniors especially should consider bringing a jacket when traveling. If you’re someone who is frequently cold, a foldable jacket is an essential item, and it is particularly useful when you’re touring and experiencing different kinds of weather. While you can anticipate what the weather will be using a device such as Alert1’s On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert + GPS + Pedometer, which comes with a built-in weather app,5 you might not be able to anticipate feeling cold. A foldable jacket is an extremely useful item for seniors who travel.

7.                  Carabiner Clips


This is another small but surprisingly effective item. When you’re packing for your trip, simply place a clip on one of the handles of your bag or luggage. Now, anything with a loop can be instantly attached to the outside of your bag. Water bottles, neck pillows, and even other bags can be easily carried on the outside of your suitcase or pack. Even though you might start your trip with these items inside your pack, as you travel, it can be useful to have the option of attaching them to the outside. This makes them easier to access, and it allows more space in your suitcase for other items you may pick up along the way.

8.                  Extra Bags


Plastic grocery bags might be terrible for the environment, but they can really come in handy when you’re traveling. For starters, there are many places around the globe and even in the United States that have stopped offering bags when you purchase an item. If you plan on shopping at your various destinations, it’s quite possible that bringing your own bags will be expected. Additionally, having extra bags may be useful at the end of your trip. Whether you bought souvenirs that can’t fit in your luggage, or you just can’t quite seem to make everything fit as before, or you want to keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean ones, having some extra bags to carry your overflow can be a comforting move. What’s even better is that plastic bags fold down to almost nothing, and the handles make them easily attachable to other luggage. Plus, you are re-using them and keeping them from a landfill.

9.                  Money Belt


Seasoned travelers know the importance of a good money belt. Thieves and pick-pockets tend to target travelers, and senior travelers are most especially targeted, but a money belt is an easy way to make it more difficult to be robbed while still leaving you with easy access. Money belts work just like a fanny pack, only worn under your shirt. Money belts are also designed to lie flat against your skin so they won’t draw attention, which also helps to ensure that it doesn’t look lumpy under your shirt. According to Trip Savvy, “Although thieves are aware of money belts, they are less likely to jump through the hoops—or belt loops as the case may be—necessary to steal from these pouches.”6 Touring, with its frequent stops, can make it more difficult to keep track of all your belongings, but with a money belt, you can keep your essential items (like your passport or ID) close to you at all times.


No matter where your journey takes you, Alert1 wishes you safe and healthy travels!