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STEP OUT WITH SENIORS: Get packing with these tips

Sometimes big events in your life will prompt you to do something out of the ordinary. That is what has happened to my husband and me. We will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary this fall, so we are going traveling.

Early last fall, all kinds of catalogs from tour companies began arriving in our mailbox. Each trip sounded better than the one on the previous pages. We called old friends with whom we had traveled before, put their ideas together with ours, found a trip and began to plan. Since we have done this kind of thing before I thought I would share with you a few things we have learned along the way.

Unless you are an experienced, independent traveler, I feel you are better off using a tour company or travel agent. You can find air fare, hotels, etc. via the web, but often an agent can find good deals for you. We checked the web and airlines for prices and found our agent could save us $300 on our tickets.

If you are going out of the country, you will need a passport. Enumclaw City Hall has the forms you fill out and mail in, along with a check. Do this right away as it can take four to eight weeks for your passport to arrive.

How are you going to travel?  Traveling with a tour company is a nice way for seniors to go as they arrange nearly everything for you – your air travel, hotels, tours and side trips and many meals.  They get you registered at your hotel and all your baggage to your room. The next day or so they put it all on the bus/train/plane for you.

Another advantage to traveling with a tour company is you rarely stand in line waiting to get into a building or exhibit. They take you in a special “tour entrance.” When we went to a museum in Florence we went right inside instead of waiting in line for three hours in the hot sun.

What kind of suitcase should you take? After your bag arrives in your room you will be lifting it onto and off of a bed or shelf, carrying or wheeling it through an airport and later lifting if off a conveyer belt, so choose a light, rolling bag. I like to take a medium-sized bag and a small tote in which I carry a book and my medications.

Some guide books tell you to take all your meds in their original containers. I have traveled overseas many times and always put mine in a container that holds daily doses and then carried a list of my medications and their dosages. Never have I seen anyone have their medications checked to see if they were in their original containers.

What about clothes?  There is a 99 percent chance you will never see your fellow travelers again. No one will care or remember if you wear the same clothes several times. A couple of pairs of dark slacks, some colored T-shirts and a cardigan and I am set for the trip. If you think you will be dressing up, throw in a black skirt and a scarf or necklace to dress up the outfit.

Go to your bank and get some currency of the country you will land in first so you can pay for a cab or a snack at the airport. Your bank and AAA are good sources for this. Wear a money belt to hold your cash, return air ticket, ATM card, an extra credit card, the key to your hotel room and cash.  Carry a wallet to hold enough cash for the day’s expenses and a credit card and you will be set.

So, now you have made your reservations, gotten a passport and a bit of local currency and packed your suitcase. What are you waiting for? Step out, seniors – go see the world.

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