6 Tips & Essentials for Senior Travelers

As we approach our older years, we should not be holding ourselves back from making new memories. If anything, we should just be making up for lost time, but not without caution of course. To avoid little inconveniences that might hinder your smooth-sailing travels, take note of these six tips:

1. Always make a checklist when packing!

This is especially important because it’s easy to forget the smaller items when packing up suitcases (we have all forgotten toothpaste or a toothbrush at some point). Make sure to begin this checklist at least a few days prior to your departure. This way, after making a list the first time, there’s more time to think of more items to write down later. Throughout the day, notice the items used everyday with extra care to avoid forgetting anything.

2. Pack Light.

Try to bring fewer items to lessen the burden of carrying your items. Be sure to check the weather prior to packing and pick out clothing accordingly. Bring clothing that can be mixed together to maximize efficiency. Be sure to wear your heaviest shoes on the plane to lessen the burden in your bag.

3. Make sure to use trusted websites for travel research.

Take precaution when researching for travel locations. Many websites might be providing false deals with hotels and restaurants to grab your attention. Use trusted websites that you are already familiar with. Some popular examples: Tripadvisor, Expedia and Booking.

4. Get travel insurance.

At an older age, travelers are much more prone to injury or sickness. It is especially important for those who carry medication with them. It’s not uncommon for travelers’ suitcases to be lost in transit, and essential medications could be lost in the process. To avoid running out of medication or face an unexpected injury, paying the extra insurance fee is a small price for the reassurance in return.

5. Consult a physician before leaving for travel.

Travelling to new areas expose our bodies to unfamiliar bacteria and illnesses. Make sure to be aware of all destination-specific risks from your physician and take proper preventative measures. Additionally, be aware of traveller illnesses including altitude sickness and traveler’s diarrhea.

6. Always check out senior discounts.

Upon inquiry, many tourist attractions offer senior discounts. For example, many cruises offer additional cruise discounts for members over 55. Prior to booking, if you know any senior travel website, be sure to do some research on the website for a full listing of the offered discounts.

Safety Thoughts for Open Ocean Windsurfing

Windsurfing is a thrill few get to experience at it’s best. First of all it takes time to learn how to sail at all. It’s a slow and often embarrassing procedure. Experienced sailors can tell you in their words how to do it, but in truth it is a feeling you finally start to get after repeatedly failing. At first you are able to sail a few feet before going down, but soon enough you are able to sail hundreds of yards before the wind puffs or changes and knocks you off balance.

Once you’ve finally got the board going out the next big challenge is to sail back. It feels like you have to learn all over again. Now you’re standing differently and holding on differently. Of course if you don’t figure out how to make it work in this new direction you’ll have a bit of an emergency on your hands. You’ll be stuck out there.

Once you’ve finally mastered the ability to go out and return the sailing becomes a practice exercise each time you go. You can learn to do a jibe turn, sail up or down wind, or how to control your speed. The two big lessons that will change windsurfing for you forever is using the harness and deep water take off. When using the harness, all the weight of the sail pulling you along the water is balance perfectly by your body sitting in this harness. You only steer with your arms, you do not have to hold the wind anymore. This is the only way you can sail is higher wind. The other lesson, deep water take off, allows you to use the wind to lift you out of the water and instantly be sailing. While you are learning you have to stand on the board and lift the sail out of the water which can be very difficult for the back.

Now that we’ve come this far, the open ocean sailing begins. This is like an E ticket at Disneyland. As you sail over the swells of the ocean quickly and quietly it’s easy to come across different sea life. Schools of dolphin will swim right under you insanely close but not hitting the board. You can sail very close to the sea turtles because of how silent it is. The swells are fun to sail up on over but having the swell behind you offers another feeling of power as it pushes the board along and you find yourself sailing and surfing at the same time. There is no question that all the months learning to sail have been worth it.

I have been very fortunate to have experienced this kind of sailing for many years. With this kind of adventure comes the safety aspect. The training I earlier explained offers the most support to be a safe sailor. There are three important safety messages I’d like to share. These safety tips are important to me because I learned them the hard way. Twice I was involved in rescues while windsurfing. I once help rescue a fellow sailor who had a stroke and on another occasion rescued a guy who broke his ankle while windsurfing. These stories brings me to my windsurfing safety tips.

Always wear a life jacket. It feels safe seeing that you’re using a board that floats well and even a harness helps but life and death situations can happen when you need to float face up or help another to stay afloat. Your board could float away.

Wear protection on your hands and feet. You’d like to believe you’ll just be sailing all day but broken equipment might find you standing on a reef or rocks.

If possible, try to always sail with someone. If my friend was sailing alone when he had a stroke he would not have survived. We never know when something odd might happen but we should be as safe as possible out on the water.

Be safe and enjoy the sailing!

Frugal Travel Tips For Cruises

Cruises are one of my favorite ways to see the world. I love falling asleep in one country and waking up in another, not having to pack and unpack. Cruise lines run the range of prices from value to super expensive. For frugal travelers, here are some tips to cut expenses.

Consider All Itineraries

When most people think of cruises, they think of the Caribbean, the Mediterrian, and perhaps Alaska. However, name an ocean port and there is likely a cruise sailing into it. And some of these itineraries can not be only bargains but a pleasant surprise. We once booked a 12 day Baltic cruise from London to St. Petersburg and return for less than the airfare from New York to London. It remains one of our favorite cruises.

Bring Your Own Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Food is normally included in the price of a cruise (except for dining at the exclusive restaurants). However, beverage other than water, coffee, tea, and if lucky iced tea come with an additional cost. So what we do is buy non-alcoholic beverages in ports (allowable – for alcoholic drinks, there is often a corking charge) and then pour them into glasses.

Make Your Own Tour

We’ve been on over a dozen cruises all over the world and have only done one ship organized tour (on our first cruise). They are expensive, move forward at the pace of the slowest traveler, and restrictive. For a well organized traveler, making their own arrangements is preferable.

One trick that we use is to look at the sights the ship tours cover and include those in our “tour.”

Note: Tour Directors will often tell of horror stories about passengers not getting back to the ship on time. The solution? Leave some extra time and do the far away venues first.

Big Breakfast, Late Dinner

For the frugal traveler, maximizing the time in port is a must. That means if possible choosing the late seating at dinner. Also we tend not to eat large lunches (if at all). Instead we eat a large breakfast on the ship (where the breakfast is free), snack on bits and bites of local food while on shore, and then top the day off with a leisurely late dinner.

Cruising is one of the favorite ways for this frugal traveler to see the world. And by using these tips, it is one luxury that can fit into a traveler’s budget.

Learn to Sail Better – How to Retrieve a Lost Mainsail Or Genoa Halyard Fast!

You’ve just motored out to a clear spot in the river and get ready to raise the mainsail. You hoist the head of the mainsail up the mast–and the halyard breaks free!

Now you are in a mess, as the halyard flails back and forth, five feet out of reach. Learn to sail like a pro when you use a simple, little-known technique that will keep this from ruining your sailing day!

Before you get underway, rig a simple halyard retrieval line for your mainsail and headsail halyards. That will allow you to haul the halyard down if it parts, or breaks loose when hoisting any sailboat sail. Follow these three easy steps:

Measure Your Mast and Headstay

Use small diameter, three-strand nylon or Dacron line. For the mainsail halyard, make the line length equal to the sailboat mast, plus enough to reach the base of the mast to tie it off to a cleat. For the headsail, make the line length equal to the headstay, plus enough to reach back to the cockpit and tie off to a cockpit boat cleat.

Splice an Eye Above the Halyard Shackle

Form a tight, small eye in each halyard just above the halyard shackle. Avoid the temptation to splice to the shackle, because the eye could slip off of the shackle when retrieving. Cover the bitter ends of your splice with three or four tight wraps of riggers tape. This will prevent the ends from fraying in the high winds at the head of the mast.

Hook a Block to the Stem-head at the Bow

Shackle a fairlead block to the stemhead (the fitting that the bottom of the headstay attaches to). Use one of the holes aft of the hole used by the headstay.

Test Your Mainsail and Headsail Retrieval Lines

Raise your mainsail on a a calm day in the slip or at the pier. Slack the retrieval line as you hoist the head of the mainsail. Some sailing skippers like to attach a small block to the base of the mast to run the mainsail retrieval line aft to the cockpit. You can also use the line to help haul the mainsail down after sailing.

Raise your Genoa or jib to the top of the sailboat mast. Feed the line through the block and aft back to the cockpit. Your headstay retrieval line can pull double-duty as “haul-down” line to help you lower the Genoa or jib.

Mark Your Cleat Spots on Each Retrieval Line

Make sure to keep each line slack so that it does not interfere with sail shape. Use a marker to show the “cleat off” spot on each retrieval line. That way, you know that your lines are set to the correct spot and ready to use in an instant.

Use these five easy tips to learn to sail better and with less effort. Boost your sailing skipper skills to the next level with these time and effort saving sailing tips–wherever in the world you choose to go sailing.