Retire, they said. It will be fun, they said. You are free to go anywhere, do anything and scratch things off your bucket list, they say. Who are “they” and I’ll bet they’re not retired? Traveling today isn’t easy, no matter what your age.
If you’re flying, you have to arrive two hours prior to your flight. You must sit and wait until your flight number is called. Once on the plane you’re asked to buckle your seat belts and given instructions for surviving a crash. You are then told to wait again while the air bus waits its turn for take off. Your in the air for a couple hours, praying you won’t have to remember those crash instructions while white knuckling the arm rests. When you arrive, you go to collect your baggage. You watch as several suitcases go round and round, trying to locate your own. Too bad you have the same color luggage as everyone else. You decide to wait until everyone else retrieves theirs’, hoping the last one will be yours. You wait at the curb for your ride to pick you up or trying to flag down a taxi. By the time you reach your destination, you’re exhausted. What could have been a three hour road trip has turned into a five hour panic attack.
The same is true of relying on other forms of public transportation. It’s always a waiting game. During that time you size up the crowd of passengers you might be seated next to. You notice the most unappealing of them all. You assume that person is a serial killer or worse and pray again that you will never see them again. You watch as sticky fingered, snot covered little ones tug on your leg and ask to sit on your lap. You retreat to the restroom.
When we get older we have a lot of issues when we travel. We pack differently than when we were twenty. For example, our toothbrush is now accompanied by a plastic container for our teeth. We pack Depends instead of bikini briefs. We include outfits that will cover our aging arms and legs. We add an extra pair of spectacles, a separate suitcase for our medications and a slew of word game puzzles.
We also don’t move as quickly as we used to, so we may include a cane, a neck pillow, a brace of some kind, a walker or any other device to help us navigate. When we run out of breath getting from one plane or train to another, we sit down to catch our breath only to miss our connection.
Traveling by car is fine for the short trips, but as we age we often need to make more stops than the average person. We need to stretch our arthritic legs, use the rest room, get a snack or lunch. When planning a road trip remember to include those stops into your itinerary. It may take longer than you thought, but you will be thankful that you did.
I’m not sure what the answer is for us old retired fogies. Maybe the best solution is to stay home and invite people to come to visit you. Another possibility is to take short road trips rather than thousands of miles. Drive for an hour, stop, drive, stop, etc. etc. It may take you a week longer to get there, but you have a better chance of arriving in one piece.