Road Trip Tips
7 Tips for Older Drivers
Travel and road trips are a great way to see new sights, visit with family and friends, and get some well-deserved rest and relaxation. If you’re retired, a wonderful perk is the ability to pick up and go when you want.
For seniors, especially those with health conditions, it’s a good idea to invest a little time in planning before you hit the road. With planning, you can take advantage of senior travel deals to stretch your budget.
In honor of National Older Drivers Safety Awareness Week, we present seven tips for the perfect road trip.
1. Decide where you’re going
If you’re a AAA member, your local branch offers free travel guides with details on lodging with AAA rates and senior discounts. You can also check AAA or AARP online, or travel sites that won’t cost you a thing such as TripAdvisor and Frommers. Another resource is your local library’s travel section. Don’t forget to ask family and friends for tips when selecting a destination.
If budget and senior travel discounts are a priority, destinations you might consider are Las Vegas, Nevada, Washington, DC, and New Orleans, Louisiana to name a few.
2. Create an itinerary and plan your route
Once you’ve selected a destination and booked a room, build an itinerary to give to family, friends, or petsitters, if you’re leaving your furry friend at home. Include your cell phone number if applicable, as well as any traveling companions’ numbers.
Pick up maps at your AAA or bookstores, or plan your route online and print and take it with you.
If you don’t have your own computer, you might be able to access one at a local library or a mailing service center for a fee.
3. Get a tune up and pack smart
Check your vehicle’s fluid levels and tire pressure before you leave, or have your local shop or dealership do it—some will do it free of charge. Bring road service or auto insurance cards and phone numbers in case you need them.
Build an emergency kit that includes jumper cables, a first aid kit, bottled water, snacks, and a few days of extra medication for you or companions. If you’re traveling with a pet, include a kit for them as well. Bring medical bracelets, health insurance cards, and consider putting an index card in your wallet that lists health conditions, medications, and emergency contacts.
4. Drive safely
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “There were 35 million licensed older drivers in 2011—a 21-percent increase from 2002.” Those that are more at risk include seniors ages 80 to 84 and male drivers 65 and over.
As we age, we experience physical and cognitive changes that affect our driving abilities, but you can help stay safe by practicing a few rules of the road. AAA recommends the following:
- Travel during the day if you have trouble with night vision or glare.
- Turn your head often to compensate for diminished peripheral vision.
- For better visibility, keep headlights, mirrors, and windshields clean.
- Add a larger rearview mirror for increased visibility.
- Keep your eyes up and look at the road ahead (a block ahead on city roads; look toward the section of road you’ll reach in 20 to 30 seconds on highways).
5. Senior travel discounts and fun activities
AAA or AARP members typically enjoy 10% or more savings on lodging, car rentals, meals, and activities. Even if you’re not a member, you can ask about senior discounts when booking reservations. Other ways to save include using frequent flyer or credit card rewards programs toward things like a free night stay or room upgrade. Also, check out if areas you’re traveling to offer free museum or park days. Even your bank may offer museum passes and other perks.
6. Tips for the 55+ tech-savvy traveler
Download apps such as Gasbuddy to find the lowest gas price near you. There are also gas calculators, maps, and driving directions available online, or you can consider a GPS system for peace of mind.
7. Traveling with pets
To find pet friendly lodging, check out AAA’s “Traveling With Your Pet: The AAA PetBook,” or websites such as www.pet-friendly-hotels.net and bringfido.com.
During warm weather travel, it’s important that pets have access to an air conditioner and fresh water at all times. Don’t leave your pet in a parked car, even in the shade or with windows open—the temperature in a car can reach 120 degrees in just a few minutes.
Last but not least, have a great trip!
SeniorAdvisor.com is your go-to stop on the web for ratings and reviews of assisted living in San Diego, Miami, Phoenix, and other popular travel destinations.
Written by Erin Poole