I am on my third cruise. I boarded the Viking Sun in Buenos Aires, Argentina after flying overnight from Albuquerque. I was allowed 2 checked bags, one carry-on and one personal item by the airline. Most old people pack too much; and, I am no exception; however, I kept to one checked bag and one personal item and even that was too much.
No matter how you work it, you are going to have to lift bags, roll bags, and deal with bags beginning with getting them out your front door and into the car. Then, there is check in, retrieving bags at the destination, and customs. Finally you have to negotiate the bags, and watch them, in getting to the ship.
Once aboard the ship, you discover that the staterooms are smaller than the rooms at assisted living, especially if you are sharing one with a spouse. The closets are small, the drawers are small and there is little, if any, extra storage space. Fortunately, at least on Viking, there is room under the bed for 4 suitcases, one carry-on and a few personal items.
Then, unless you are in a high-end stateroom, there is barely enough room to turn around, much less to sort your clothing on a daily basis and keep the clean stuff separate from the dirty.
The question is why! Where are you going? What is the purpose of the trip? What do you really need?
The Viking Sun is great! Jeans and shorts are only prohibited in Speciality dining rooms and The Restaurant at dinner. There are free washers and dryers on each deck. The bottom line is that you can deal, even if you are old.
My trip was from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Santiago, Chile around cape horn. It lasted 18 days.
I am old. I take a shower every day. I might even wear the same clothes two days in a row.
Like most old men, I have a “uniform.” I wear comfortable jeans, and have never been denied access, even to 4 star restaurants – with a turtle neck and a jacket, you can go anywhere. Old men have become more stylish, wearing jeans, since it is impossible to find checkered pants with zippers that don’t work. The last ones I saw were on my father, years ago.
So for a 3-week trip on a cruise ship, what do you really need:
Jeans, heavy travel shirt, light weight rain jacket, walking shoes, underwear all worn.
Enough clothing for 7 days – I don’t really want to do laundry every day.
7 socks, underpants, black t-shirts.
Tai Chi slippers – good for fitness center and walking around on ship.
7 assorted shirts that don’t need ironing
Swim suit – for sauna, etc.
Work out shorts
Light weight pants that you can sleep in or wear in an emergency.
REI light weight travel pants that will get you past the “no jeans” restriction in the fancy dining rooms.
1 turtle neck
A vest that with pockets to wear on trip and finesse on formal occassions – easy to run through security and safer than having everything in pants pocket. See blog where I left my driver’s license in security check in and couldn’t rent a car.
Everything the same color, so you only have to use one washer and dryer.
One big problem old people have is keeping track of things. With 3 bags of clothing on a trip, you have no idea where everyhting is which leads to frustration and confusion.
You didn’t get old and able to take this trip by being stupid.
I was headed for North Carolina to visit my son for Christmas. At the Albuquerque Sunport, I went through the TSA Pre line since I had qualified for Global Entry. No problem with my carry-on, but I triggered the security devices several times with my belt, keys, hearing aid batteries, etc. resulting in placing the items in a small plastic bowl. I had not returned my driver’s license to my wallet and laid it on top of the other items in the bowl.
When I got to the hotel in Charlotte, NC, they wanted an ID. I discovered that I did not have my driver’s license; however, the hotel desk clerk, looked at me and waived that requirement, and allowed me to check in. But, I did not have a driver’s license and I had to pick up a rental car the next morning. The evening was spent awake and sorting though every item I travelled with.
The next morning, after searching my belongings in detail, I googled Albuquerque Sunport lost and found. One of the four choices was a phone number for TSA. I called; the license had been turned in late the prior night, The TSA rep. was great. She said that they could FedEx it to me; took my information, credit card number, and the address of the Waynesville Bed and Breakfast where we would be staying.
I wrote down the tracking number she gave me and we headed to the rental car counter. They accepted my wife’s driver’s license and we rented a car.
The next day about 3:00, after tracking my credit card through Memphis, Ashville and Waynesville, it arrived at our Bed and Breakfast. I carefully put it in my wallet; and checked my wallet every few hours.
The FedEx envelope with my driver’s license.
Things I learned from my experience and a bit of research:
- Watch your identification documents.
- Carry your Global Entry Card with you; it can be used for identification at the airport.
- Get a police report for lost driver’s licenses.
- In NM you can get a temporary license for a lost license on-line if you are under 75 and don’t have any other problems; with me the problem was the age. I missed the 75 cut-off at 77.
- Google: “name of airport” + “lost and found.”
- Have someone with you who has a valid driver’s license.
- Driving without a driver’s license in your possession is a crime, may lead to your arrest and may cause increase in insurance rates.
- Have as much documentation as possible to show that you have a license, ie police report, photocopy, insurance card, etc. Have info on your cell phone and you may be able to talk your way out of it.
The big problem will be the car rental company; so, be a member of their frequent renter group, have another driver with you, and talk to a manager.
Since you are old anyway, it is a good time to rethink alternative forms of transportation.
Public, Uber, friend, spouse, etc.
AARP SMART DRIVER COURSE FOR SENIORS – I got my license 63 years ago and no one is going to tell me how to drive!Posted: December 13, 2017
The AARP Smart Driver Course, is worth the time and money. You can’t not afford to take it, and you aren’t doing anything but watching TV any way.
The course is available on-line and at various centers around the country. GOOGLE: “AARP SMART DRIVER COURSE.”
I just took it on-line. It took me four hours and I had two months to complete it; however, I did it in one afternoon. The reasons I took it are:
- Cheap – I got a deal and only paid $19.95 for the course.
- Update – It is 63 years since I got my license and a few things have changed; especially the way they mark the streets.
- Reminders – After 63 years (and 3 years since I took the classroom course) I need to have my mind refreshed; especially where my life and the lives of others are at stake.
- Insurance discount – this varies by state and insurance company, but I expect at least 5%.
- Not taking the course may work against you. The insurance company knows how old I am, and as much data as they collect, I am sure that they note whether or not I have taken the course. I have nothing to base this on, but then I may be paranoid about companies collecting information on me.
- Makes you aware that you are not alone in the way you drive at 77; and gives you some techniques to use. I especially liked turning left by going around the block in right-hand turns. The parcel delivery companies have discovered that they save a lot on gas and accidents by programming right turns for their drivers whenever they can.
- What insurance companies consider. It is always good to know. In New Mexico one insurance company considers a number of things, that as an old person you should at least be aware of.
- Medicine and booze. The course talks about the effect of liquor, as little as one drink, and its effect when taken with medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter. Remember, you are old, you probably take a number of pills and your body may not react to them in the same way as it did 50 years ago.
- Physical and mental problems. The course reminds you of them, as if you weren’t aware already. You don’t want to be picked up for drunk driving when you can’t walk a straight line when sober at age 77. You don’t want your picture in the Albuquerque Journal at the end of the month as a convicted drunk driver.
- I tell people I took the course. It may head off attempts to take your license and your car. I received positive feedback and questions from other old people that I told about the course; so, I am telling you about it.
The course is designed so you have to watch everything and give feed-back before moving to the next segment. You can’t just click through it in a few minutes and get your certificate.
Old people are afraid of dying while on an international trip. Most are afraid of dying period; however, 99% of people die at some point, and once you reach 75 you are more aware of the probability that you will die; especially if you are going overseas.
Basically to make things easier, you need a 3 x 5 card:
- Embassy telephone number
- Insurance policy – Company and policy number.
- Airline and confirmation number.
- Emergency contact number.
- Home town physician and number.
- Hotel name and number.
- Family telephone numbers.
- Home town funeral home number.
- Tour operator number.
- Simple statement as to wishes. Cremate, ship home, bury abroad…etc.
- Travel insurance name, telephone and policy number.
- US Embassy number.
- The simple solution for your representative or next of kin:
- Travel insurance to pay for shipment of body, cremains.
- Contact the American Embassy where you are. They have a 24 hour number.
- Contact Funeral home in your home town.
- Carry on cremains in a sealed, TSA approved, container.
- Have foreign mortuary ship body to your home-town mortuary.
- Collect belongings
- Get copies of all paperwork – Embassy, police, doctors, hospitals, funeral homes, airlines, autopsy report, etc
- Notify: Embassy, family, police, funeral home,
Remember that what is a unique and terrible experience for you is a common event for the embassy, the funeral homes and the airlines.
Some useful web pages:
American Air Lines has introduced its Basic Economy Fare. Other airlines, except Southwest, are charging for checking, carry-on, and for anything that you can’t stick under the seat.
This is great. I am cheap. Now I am forced to travel as a minimalist, which is better for me. I can enjoy the journey; and, not worry about dealing with luggage.
Have you ever seen an old person trying to hoist their bag into an overhead bin? Not a pretty sight. Have you seen an old person dragging a large suitcase through the airport? Do old people really need to dress up when traveling?
I have written on this before. But now, I am forced to take a new look.
I like Rick Steves and have taken 4 trips with his organization. He sells the Euro Flight Bag (14 x 13 x 8) and it fits under the American Airlines seat with room to spare. I don’t need as much seat room since I have lost an inch or two in the last few years, and expect to lose a bit more as my pending osteoporosis develops. This bag should fit under any airline seat.
For any length of trip:
The jeans that I wear. Acceptable anywhere I might go, if clean and neat. Better than the checkered pants with the zipper that didn’t work of previous generations.
7 black t-shirts
7 pair of socks
Shoes that I wear
Light weight travel pants.
Light weight pants that I can sleep in, or use informally.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, aspirin, ibuprofen
Tai Chi slippers
I-pad with over 500 books, NY Times, Albuquerque Journal and magazine subscriptions’
Pack-It Jacket with internal pockets.
Emergency rain jacket -ScotteVest
Notebook and pens
Glasses and hearing aid
3 shirts – long-sleeved or short-sleeved depending on weather.
Cell phone with camera and Google Maps
Questions to ask:
- Can I wash my clothes for the cost of checking or the carry-on fee?
- Can I lift a bag into overhead by myself?
- Do I have to pack anything different from what I wear at home?
- Will anyone laugh at me? Do I care?
- Can i wear this on a cruise ship?
- Will this work in winter? What do I need to add, besides a heavier jacket and gloves?
- Am I going to a place with stores?
- Do I need anything else?
Airline baggage limits are a positive. Like a lot of parameters they benefit you in unintended ways. There is a lot to be said for not traveling with a lot of stuff that you don’t need when you are over 75. Keep moving, but reduce your load.
One of the best things about our cruise on the Holland America, MS Veendam from Monteal to Boston was the cooking class. It was held three times with a professional chef from Cook’s Magazine cooking in a professional kitchen with seating for about 100.
The only downside is that we didn’t get to taste what the chef prepared. But, we did get recipes and an entertaining and educational 45 minutes on three different occasions.
This was our first cruise; and worth it just for the cooking class.
Apparently all of the Holland America Lines ships have these cooking classes.
I like a restaurant that reminds me of my past (60 to 70 years ago); and, like most people my age, I prefer non-chain restaurants. In Largo, Florida there is Venus Restaurant. It has been family owned since 1985, is small, and seems to cater to an older neighborhood population.
There are booths, tables and an outdoor seating area where smoking is apparently allowed; at least I could smell cigarette smoke which is unusual; even in Florida. The walls are covered with pictures drawn by grade-school grandchildren, the waitresses are friendly and the parking lot is always crowded.
The food is simple, not processed and reflective of by-gone times. Where else can you find beef liver and onions (small portion) for $7.49 “served with a choice of the following sides: cup of soup, or side salad, potato, vegetable or a pudding dessert.”
They also serve fish, meat-loaf, burgers and pasta; plus an assortment of Greek dishes and pudding for dessert.
I had breakfast there today:
2441 West Bay Drive
Largo, FL 33770
There is no better place for the geezer when travelling than a public library and the Huntington Public Library in Huntington, Long Island can’t be beat.
It is open seven days a week and is located in the center of town. It has all the usual amenities including bathroom, free WiFi, copying machines, computers, e-mail stations, magazines, used book store and a big reference section.
Hard cover books are $1.00 and paperbacks are 50 cents.
In addition there are interesting public programs. Posted today on the bulletin board are:
“Women Pirates,” a lecture by Stony Brook University Professor, Tara Rider.
A mystery book discussion group
Drop-In Meditation program
Courses in Microsoft Programs
They also have a senior information center with information of interest to seniors; including bus schedules and senior programs.
You can read a half-dozen daily newspapers and probably 100 different magazines.
Across the street you can find coffee, breakfast, lunch and an assortment of shops.
Libraries are especially good if you are visiting family. They work, go to school, and generally have a life without you, so if you can get out of their hair and have an interesting day, it is a win-win situation.
Huntington Public Library – www.myhpl.org
Google search: Name of town + library
Meetup is a social networking group based on common interests. You locate a site near you, or near where you will be, by going to meetup.com and inserting your zip code or city. You can then find groups that have the same interest as you. You can sign up, go to the meetings and enjoy what they have to offer.
The Meetup in Albuquerque includes one on blogging using WordPress which I joined. It meets weekly and while it has over 800 members there are usually only 5 – 10 there. The meetings are either “work-a-longs where you can get expert help with your blog for free; or sessions with speakers on various blogging topics; including photography.
The work-a-longs are very good if you are trying to learn something new and need help. I can get quick, knowledgeable help on my blog problems from people who are expert in the field. The meetings last up to two hours and are always useful.
Meetups are not limited to blogging; they are for any thing people are interested in; including, dancing, languages, travel, art, cooking, or you can even start your own. They cost nothing for the participant, and about $10 a month for the sponsor. You could even start one on how to live as an old person.
When traveling, look for Meetups where you will be. Just plug-in the new zip code or name of town and see what you get.
Google: meetup.com +city, state
For example: Since I am going to Huntington, NY:
Google: meetup.com +Huntington, NY
and the result is: a list of Meetups around Huntington, NY, including, hiking, food, photography, sailing, widows and widowers, etc. There is no shortage of Meetups, including 25 on writing; none on blogging and one on WordPress, which costs $6.
You should Google: meetup.com +name of town
They are worth considering.
I don’t carry books on trips any more. There is too much bulk, weight and trouble for a person my age. I want to share alternate reading solutions with you.
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida has a number of free mini libraries. Take one/leave one. I have seen them in other places including Albuquerque, New Mexico and Waynesville, North Carolina.
If a mini-library is not available, consider the following:
- Kindle – I have downloaded thousands of books, including a number of free ones from Amazon to my I-pad or my Kindle.
- Kindle via your library. Your library may allow you to download e-books to your pad or computer for several weeks. You will probably need a library card, but I can download from the Albuquerque Public Library anywhere I can find Wi-Fi. And, no waiting. It is instant gratification.
- Libraries. Every library has a room where they sell old books and magazines cheap. Usually $1 to $2 for a hardback and a fourth that for paperbacks; frequently best sellers.
- Senior Centers – You can find donated books for free. An additional advantage is their bulletin boards which tell you about trips, programs, etc. A cheap tour may be available as well as a computer center with an expert. You can also get cheap meals and a 25 cent cup of coffee
- YMCA’s – When you finish your Silver Sneakers work-out, you can take a book from their shelves of donated books. You can also leave books there.
- Foreign Countries – Check out the bars where ex-pats hang out. You will frequently find shelves of take-one/leave-one books; in English.