For the 50+ Traveler

I love to travel. When I’m traveling I feel alive and energized. I enjoy seeing new places, learning new things, meeting new people, and immersing myself in different cultures. A year ago, I left a great job because I wanted to have more time to travel. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine travel would become impossible.

Initially, I felt at a loss with what to do with myself. But while all travel plans have been sidelined for the next month or so, there are things we can do now to prepare for future travel. Take a few minutes and look over the list of activities you can do today, while you have free time. Each of these will help prepare you for future travels with less stress.

1. Check On Your Passport

Check your passport expiration date. Mark your calendar for eight months prior to expiration to handle the renewal process. Passports must be renewed at least six months before the expiration date if you plan to leave the country. If you have never made copies of your passport, take the time to do so. I keep one copy in our safe deposit box, one copy in our carry ons, and one copy in our checked luggage. If your passport is lost or stolen, copies will help you get a duplicate much quicker.

2. Inspect Your Luggage

Now is a great time to make sure your luggage is in working order. Check the wheels. Do they move freely? If not, you might need to grease them. Check the handle screws to make sure they are tight. Luggage gets dirty from all the handling. Wipe off your suitcases with a damp cloth or wipe. Check the inside of your suitcase. Use the nozzle of your vacuum to suck out any lint or debris. Put a dryer sheet inside your suitcase to keep it smelling fresh for its next use.

The writer's luggage tags.
Robin Smith

3. Prep Luggage Tags

Are your tags in good shape? Do they need to be replaced? Do they still have the correct contact info listed? During my last trip, I noticed that although the one side of my tag was there, the entire other half had been torn away, so the contact info was gone. It happens when you don’t even know it. I now keep an extra luggage tag in my suitcase when I travel just in case it is needed. I often slide a business card with all my contact info into the window instead of handwriting it on the provided card.

If you’re in the market for new (or more durable) tags, check out our best luggage tags of 2020 review.

4. Take Luggage Photos

Take photos of all your luggage pieces so if they are ever lost, you have a photo to show the airlines.

A collection of travel-sized products.
Robin Smith

5. Organize Travel-Size Products

Check your personal travel-size items and make a list of what needs to be picked up to restock before your next trip. You might not be able to shop now, but you can make the list and have it ready for your next visit to the store.

6. Invest In Packing Cubes

If you have these, you know how wonderful they are. If you have never used packing cubes, it might be a great time to order some to make packing and unpacking a breeze.

7. Pre-Pack Personal Items

If you have extra items such as socks, underwear, and so on, you can actually pack a cube or two in advance and keep it ready for travel. I often keep mine packed and in my suitcase ready for the next trip.

8. Give Your Phone A Little Attention

Spend some time with your phone. Start by cleaning the outside with a Clorox or Lysol wipe that is made for hard surfaces. You touch your phone a lot, and it is covered with lots of germs. While you are at it, you might want to wipe off your credit cards and anything in your purse that has a hard surface as well.

9. Clean Up Your Contacts

Speaking of cleaning your phone, take time to review and clean up your contacts. Delete information you no longer need, add contacts you have cards for and desire to communicate with, and combine (or merge) individuals who have multiple contact entries.

10. Update Emergency Info

Make sure emergency information is entered into your notes area on your phone. Things to list include contact info, who to contact in case of an emergency, a medication list, known medical conditions, and your doctor’s name and contact information.

11. Download Travel Apps

While you have extra time, install the travel apps you have wanted to use but never took the time to download and experiment with. Think about airline apps, theme park apps, cruise line apps, and mileage apps. There is an app for about everything if you look.

12. Experiment With Photo Apps

The same goes for photo programs you have been wanting to try out. Install and take some photos so you can learn how to use the apps before your next trip.

13. Do Something With The Photos You Already Have

Work on that scrapbook or digital collection of pictures from previous travels that you haven’t had time to deal with. Looking through photos of fun times is almost as wonderful as being there, especially if great memories were made while on the trip. Once you have the photos organized and stored, you can delete them from your phone if they are taking up too much memory.

A collection of travel brochures.
Robin Smith

14. Organize Your Travel Brochures And Memorabilia

We all bring brochures, business cards, and other memorabilia home from trips. What do you do with it all? I know I often put it in a box or folder for when I have time to go through it. Well guess what? You now have the time to review these items, to organize and file those you plan to use as info for upcoming trips, and to throw away travel stuff that is outdated or no longer interests you.

15. Plan Your Next Trip

As you’re going through brochures, you can plan your next trip or two. Sit down with your spouse or travel partner and talk about where you would like to go. Once you have identified a location, take the time to do some research online and map out your itinerary. My husband and I have planned a completely new trip during the past two weeks. It is okay to dream and plan for a trip that might not happen for a while. Eventually we will all be traveling again.

16. Educate Yourself About Your Health Insurance

Check your health insurance to see if it includes international travel coverage, now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Learn more about travel health and medical evacuation insurance. The CDC estimates that without insurance, a medical evacuation could cost $100,000 or more.

This is a topic that I plan to spend time researching since I haven’t purchased medical evacuation insurance in the past. I will most certainly be considering it in the future, knowing we all will be looking at things we hadn’t considered before.

17. Prepare A Virus Prevention Travel Kit

Now is the time to make a virus prevention travel kit for future travels. I’m sure eventually there will be kits for sale, but at the current time, I couldn’t find any, so I decided to make a list of what should be included and make my own. The items fit into a cosmetic-size travel bag. Be sure to include the following travel-size items:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Soap
  • Clorox or Lysol wipes
  • N95 Particulate Respirator Mask
  • Aspirin or Ibuprofen
  • Vitamin C
  • Tissues
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Disposable or single-use thermometers

Looking for something to put all this in? Check out our review of the best makeup travel cases for inspiration.

I’m sure there are a multitude of other things we could do, but this is a list to get you started as we’re all waiting to travel. Find more inspiration for making the most of time at home here.