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- Figure out ways to smoothly carry your luggage, so you're not wrestling with a big bag or several bulky items.
- Stay hydrated during long flights, and take short walks hourly to minimize the slight chance of getting a blood clot.
- Travelers' cultural exchange organizations offer you the chance to stay in locals' homes for a minimal courtesy fee and learn about your destination from those who live there.
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Figure out ways to smoothly carry your luggage, so you're not wrestling with a big bag or several bulky items. For example, if you bring a second bag, make it a small one that stacks neatly (or attaches) on top of your wheeled bag. A small notebook or your phone's notes app is handy for jotting down facts and reminders, such as your hotel-room number or Metro stop. (Your phone's camera can take visual notes, too.) Recording these things will help keep your mind clear and uncluttered. Carry an extra pair of eyeglasses if you wear them, and bring along a magnifying glass if it'll help you read detailed maps and small-print schedules. It's best to take a full supply of any medications with you, and leave them in their original containers. Finding a pharmacy and filling a prescription in Europe isn't necessarily difficult, but it can be time-consuming. Plus, nonprescription medications (such as vitamins or supplements) may not be available abroad in the same form you're used to. Pharmacists overseas are often unfamiliar with American brand names, so you may have to use the generic name (for example, "atorvastatin" instead of "Lipitor"). Before you leave, ask your doctor for a list of the precise generic names of your medications, and the names of equivalent medications. See my general advice on getting medical help in Europe. If you're not flying direct, you might consider checking your bag to avoid lugging it to a connecting flight through a huge, busy airport. (Be sure to keep medications and other important items in a smaller carry-on bag for the plane and any layovers.) If you're a slow walker, request a wheelchair or an electric cart when you book your seat so you can easily make any connecting flights. Since airplanes' lack of legroom can cramp your style, book early to reserve aisle seats (or splurge on roomier "economy plus," or first class). Stay hydrated during long flights, and take short walks hourly to minimize the slight chance of getting a blood clot. Hotels vary widely in their amenities and layouts, so think about your needs before you book. Ask about any accessibility quirks for the hotel you're considering — find out whether it's at the top of a steep hill, has an elevator or stairs to upper floors, and so on. If stairs are a problem, request a ground-floor room. Location matters, too: If you stay near the train station at the edge of town, you'll minimize carrying your bag on arrival; on the other hand, staying in the city center gives you a convenient place to take a break between sights (and you can take a taxi on arrival to reduce lugging your bags). With the advantage of a more flexible schedule, older travelers can often find good alternative accommodations for longer stays. You can rent a house or apartment, or even swap houses for a week or more with someone in an area you're interested in. The swap needn't be simultaneous, and can sometimes include cars and recreational equipment like bikes and canoes. Travelers' cultural exchange organizations offer you the chance to stay in locals' homes for a minimal courtesy fee and learn about your destination from those who live there. Subways involve a lot of walking and stairs (and can be a pain with luggage if they're crowded). They also have relatively few stops; just getting to the station can be a journey on its own. If you want to do less walking, consider using city buses or taxis instead. City buses stop frequently, and with a little planning you can align your sightseeing itinerary with convenient routes. If you're renting a car, be warned that some countries and some car-rental companies have an upper age limit. To avoid unpleasant surprises, mention your age when you reserve. Senior Discounts At some sights, senior discounts are reserved for European citizens, but at other sights — and even some events such as concerts — just showing your gray hair or identification can snag you a discount. Always ask about discounts, even if you don't see posted information about one — you may be surprised. (The British call discounts "concessions"; look also for "pensioner's rates.") In non-English-speaking countries, memorize the phrase for requesting a senior discount or write it down on a card to hand over at the admissions desk.
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