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Traveling Tips for Elders

Traveling is a pleasant experience for everyone including elders. Good preparation and careful planning help to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.

Preparation

  1. Plan your journey early. Select a comfortable and relaxing schedule.
  2. Collect information on local weather and pack suitable clothing, shoes and other personal belongings.
  3. Purchase travel insurance beforehand especially for long distance trips.
  4. Enquire on the possibilities of epidemic and infectious diseases in the destination. Arrange for vaccination if required. Consult Port Health Travel Health Centre for detail information.
  5. For elders with chronic diseases, seek medical advice for fitness to travel before departure. Make sure there is enough medication to cover the whole journey. Drugs should be easily accessible at all times. Keep your partners and tour guide informed about your medical condition. It might be helpful to bring along a reference letter from the family doctor as well in case of emergency. Common drugs such as those for treatment of diarrhea, motion sickness and fever are always useful.
  6. Avoid traveling alone if possible. Let your friends and family know about your traveling plan before leaving home.
  7. Travel health information is available from the Hong Kong Travelers' Health Service website.

During traveling

  1. Do not wear tight clothing when traveling for long distance either on coach or aeroplane as this may impair blood circulation. If needed, elderly can bring along a neck pillow for extra comfort and support to the head and neck. It is advisable to maintain proper posture, and avoid crossing legs for long periods of time. Place the feet on the floor while seated. Drink plenty of water and perform stretching exercise intermittently to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis and joint stiffness.
  2. While on plane, you may experience pain and discomfort in the ear because of pressure changes. Try swallowing to keep the Eustachian tube open to relieve the discomfort.
  3. Air conditioning lowers the humidity and temperature in the cabin. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Bring along moisturizer and extra clothing when flying on a plane.
  4. For elders with chronic diseases, remember to take regular medications while traveling on the plane.

Upon arrival

  1. Jet lag occurs when the body's natural rhythm and sleep-wake cycle are disturbed. Symptoms of jet lag include difficulties in sleeping, tiredness, mood disturbances and gastrointestinal upset etc.

    Management:

    - Travelers should rest fully before traveling, drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcoholic beverages and coffee while on the flight.
    - Avoid tight schedule especially for the first few days; allow the body to get used to the climate and time difference gradually.
    - Adequate exposure to sunlight helps to reduce symptoms of jet lag.
    - If the trip lasts for less than 3 days, keep to Hong Kong time for rest and activities.
    - If the trip lasts for more than 3 days, travelers should follow the local time for sleep and meals.
    - Melatonin is a hormone that has been widely publicized to alleviate jet lag. However, there are uncertainties about its safety, and inappropriate timing of dosages may worsen jet lag. Consult a doctor for further information and avoid self medication.

  2. While staying in a hotel, elders should try to remember the location of emergency exit and local emergency telephone number. Bring along the address and telephone number of the hotel when you leave your lodging each time. Avoid going out on your own especially if there is language barrier and you are not familiar with the surroundings.

  3. Well balanced diet is recommended at all times. Follow the basic principle such as avoiding fatty and salty food. Take plenty of water and take more high fiber food such as vegetables and fruits to prevent constipation.

  4. Pay attention to personal and food hygiene which include:

    - Always wash the hands before eating
    - Do not purchase from stalls with poor hygiene
    - Drink from cans or bottles only. Boiled water is preferred.
    - Do not add ice to drinks or drink any fresh fruit juice prepared beforehand.
    - Avoid cold dishes and uncooked food such as salad and cooked meat.
    -Make sure that food such as meat, fish and seafood are thoroughly cooked before consumption.

  5. Evaluate your own health status and ability first before involving in vigorous exercise and high risk activities.
  6. Make sure you have adequate sleep and rest during the journey.
  7. Avoid casual sex with strangers and prostitutes.
  8. Practice safe sex and take appropriate preventive measures by using condoms to reduce risk of infection by sexually transmitted disease and AIDS.

For Diabetics

  1. Consult the doctor first to ensure that your health condition is stable and medically fit for traveling.
  2. Pay special attention to changes in food intake which may alter the blood sugar level.
  3. Bring along snacks and candies in case of hypoglycemic attacks. Avoid bingeing.
  4. Bring the medical alert card or bracelet when traveling.
  5. Monitor blood sugar level using urine strips or glucose meter.
  6. Order special diabetic meal beforehand with the airliners.

Return Home

If you develop symptoms like fever, diarrhea, vomiting or skin rash after returning home, seek medical advice as soon as possible and let the doctor know which countries you have visited.

Other information

  1. Port Health Travel Health centre
    The Hong Kong Travelers' Health Services provides a "one-stop" preventive and promotion service to travelers. Their services include consultation to travelers by appointment for individual health risk assessment, advice on immunization against travel-related disease and prescribing medications for common travel illness. Updated travel health information can be obtained in their website. Hong Kong Travelers' Health Service
    www.info.gov.hk/trhealth

  2. Hong Kong Observatory
    For Hong Kong and world weather reports and information
    Hong Kong Observatory
    www.weather.gov.hk