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5 holiday travel tips for seniors

Dec 14, 2023 By Dominique Astorino
Close up of an older couple's hands holding passports and pulling luggage

Clinical Editor: Spencer Blackman, MD

The holiday season approaching means many people will be hitting the road and taking to the skies to visit loved ones… or simply just escape to a different climate! And travel — especially during a busy season — can be stressful, no matter who you are or where you’re going.

Fortunately there are some strategies to help protect your physical and mental health on your adventures,, both near and far. Here’s are a few tips for navigating travel during the the holiday season:

1. Schedule a visit with your provider

If you have ongoing health issues or chronic conditions, it can be helpful to connect your provider and healthcare team before heading out on vacation. During your appointment, your provider can work with you to develop a care plan based on your unique needs so you can stay on top of your health and manage your conditions while traveling. They can also review your personal history and current travel guidelines to identify which vaccines and prescriptions may be appropriate for your trip, as well as ensure you have ample supply of your medications.

2. Plan for a comfortable trip

A little bit of planning ahead can ensure you have the best time possible during your travels. Start by choosing the right accommodations that have accessible amenities like grab bars, elevators, and anything else that may make your stay safe and comfortable.

As for what to bring? Here’s what we suggest:

  • Wear (and pack) comfortable clothing and supportive footwear to reduce the risk of discomfort or injury.
  • You may enjoy bringing a sleeping mask for long trips, as well as a hand cream and lip balm for dry or chapped skin at high altitudes
  • Bring any healthy snacks for blood sugar, and an empty water bottle to refill and stay hydrated.
  • Keep all medications with you in your carry on bag, in their original containers, clearly labeled with dosage instructions. Do *not* put them in any checked baggage, if you’re flying. Also, carry a printed or digital list of your medications, and your provider’s contact information in case of emergencies.
  • Just in case: bring a small first aid kit with essentials like pain relievers, bandages, and any necessary medical supplies.
  • Consider bringing any relaxation comfort items, like a favorite book or soothing music, to create a familiar and peaceful environment while you’re en route.

Keeping hydrated during your journey, especially if you’re flying, can combat the effects of air travel. Make sure to drink plenty of water and fluids!

And for your diet? Plan where and when to eat — whether at the airport, on your flight, at rest stops, or at another planned location — to help you maintain your energy level and support your mood and overall well-being. Food helps fuel your body so it’s important to have a game plan.

4. Try mindful movement and stretching

Long bouts of travel can be a health risk due to prolonged sitting. If you’re sitting for long stretches of time on a plane or in a car, try to incorporate gentle stretches and movements during your travels to improve circulation and reduce stiffness. Taking short breaks during your journey to walk and stretch - even just for a few minutes up and down the plane aisle or at a gas station or rest stop - can relieve muscle tension and fatigue, and support your joint health.

5. Make an emergency plan

Life happens, and some things are out of our control, no matter how much we plan. Your backup is a solid emergency plan and strategy. Familiarize yourself with local healthcare facilities and emergency contact numbers at your destination. Ask your provider to point you in the right direction, so if anything comes up, you know where to go and what to do. And finally, keep a record of important health information, including allergies and chronic conditions, readily available.

Have more questions about your health this winter? Get started with One Medical Seniors, a primary care, value-based care practice that puts you and your health first. Learn more here.

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Dominique Astorino

The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, a national, modern primary care practice pairing 24/7 virtual care services with inviting and convenient in-person care at over 100 locations across the U.S. One Medical is on a mission to transform health care for all through a human-centered, technology-powered approach to caring for people at every stage of life.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. 1Life Healthcare, Inc. and the One Medical entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.