I’m going to share travel tips with you that will help all of us that are older and still want to go on short-term mission trips. I really enjoy Rick Steves’ books and articles. I read his article, Savvy Senior Travelers, here are 8 of his tips as they apply to us going on mission trips.
- When to go. If you’re retired, or even if you’re not, try to travel during the shoulder season. The shoulder season is either April – mid June or September and October. This will help you avoid crowds and the heat or cold.
- Travel insurance. Seniors do pay more for travel insurance but seniors also use it more often. You can get plans that pay for medical expenses and make sure it covers evacuations. Many times overseas you will need to be evacuated for medical care. Travel insurance covers many different things such as medical care, lost baggage, trip cancellation or interruption and many others. Be sure to research before buying a plan. Remember Medicare isn’t valid outside the US. I cover this topic in my book and give you suggestions.
- Packing. Try to pack light and fit everything into a carry-on suitcase. Only take it on board an aircraft if you can lift the suitcase over your head. If you can’t, check it. Pack less clothes and try to find outfits you can mix and match. If possible do laundry more often. On a short-term mission trip, you may need to wear outfits more than once. A couple of other extras you may want are eyeglasses and hearing aid batteries. Don’t forget a magnifying glass and a small notebook for reminders. Take all your medications in their original bottles. You may not be able to replace your medicines or supplements while you are gone, so be sure to have enough.
- Flying. If you have to transfer at an airport, it is really best to check your suitcase. If you’re a slow walker, request a wheelchair or cart in order to make your connecting flight. To give yourself more leg room either request an aisle seat or an upgraded seat or first class. Be sure to stay hydrated on long flights and get up and walk the aisle hourly to help decrease your chance of getting a blood clot.
- Accommodations. On short-term mission trips you may not have many choices. If possible, and stairs are a problem, ask for a ground-floor room. If you have choices on your trip, ask ahead about accessibility and consider the pros and cons. A couple of considerations would be location such as your room/hotel is at the top of a hill or if your building has an elevator. Knowing and planning can help minimize the surprises and help you enjoy the trip.
- Getting around. Your host for your mission trip will be able to help with transportation. You may need to be prepared to take city buses or taxis. If you have mobility issues, ask your host before your trip to help you plan. It may be as simple as you taking a taxi when the others take the bus. If your host provides transportation for your group, make sure they are aware of your needs.
- Senior discounts. Never forget to ask if you get a discount. Other countries may call it concessions or pensioner’s rates. Whether it is for traveling by train or if it is for sightseeing, ask to see what they have to offer you. Your main purpose won’t be sightseeing but it is great when you can combine some sightseeing with your mission trip. You traveled a long way to minister and I think it’s important to learn about their country and see some of their sites.
- Sightseeing. More than likely on a short-term mission trip you’ll be with a group. While out sightseeing with your group be sure to look for opportunities to rest. You may need to pace yourself and not do every outing that your group takes. If you have a couple of choices for the day of sightseeing, you may need to take a bus trip rather than the ziplining. Think and plan ahead so you can enjoy the service to the community and the sightseeing.
My book, From the Couch to the Mission Field, will be coming out soon. It has many more tips for traveling and ministering. Please sign up below so I can let you know when it is released!