Great gifts for seniors on the go

If you’ve got adventures big or small planned next year, it’s important to travel with the right gear. And by “right,” I mean appropriate for the changing senior’s body, mind and soul.

Let’s face it, seniors, the days of toting backpacks around Europe for months are mostly over. Still, more than 80% of all seniors place travel high atop their lists of things to do, according to a 2017 AARP study. Today’s seniors are also a financially stable demographic and able to afford accessories that make travel anywhere more manageable and comfortable.

So what should the well-equipped, over-55 man or woman purchase for journeying about? Here are a few suggestions for those looking to suprise a loved one with practical inspirations for 2020 travel.

Wheeled suitcase. Think lightweight, durable and with all-way swivel wheels that allow for both pulling and pushing. If you are a carry-on traveler, make sure whatever size luggage you purchase falls within the guidelines of each particular airline’s specifications (visit an airline’s website for details). Plan to spend at least $100 for a hard-sided suitcase that won’t buckle under pressure. Samsonite still makes one of the most affordable, durable hard-sided cases on the market. Look for the Omni Expandable Hardside at local department stores or online. $90+.

Day bag or tote. At age 51, I still carry a backpack, finding it a familiar comfort for almost all my travels, but at some point I’m sure I’ll convert to a cross-body bag, especially for overseas adventures. The advantage of a cross-body is that the straps and front of the bag are under your control, and watchful eye, at all times. Many travel bags also come with added protection of Kevlar inner strapping to protect against thievery by cutting straps while an unsuspecting traveler is unaware. I like the Travelon Travel Bag by eBags: It comes with a document pocket and plenty of room for tablets, phones, water, and all the other things I manage to collect along the way. $50+.

Comfortable, durable footwear. The dogs get tired after a day sightseeing, hiking or hopping on and off tour buses, no matter the destination. Sore feet can make for a miserable trip, so don’t skimp on footwear. And for gosh sakes, break in any new shoes before leaving home. Planning on hiking? Wear a shoe with plenty of foot and ankle support for rougher terrain. Walking city streets and the occasional gravel pathway? Pick a sneaker with comfort soles and breathable fabric, especially for warmer destinations. I am a lifetime fan of REI, and find their selections of shoes (and in-person patience at the Anchorage store) to be top-notch for travel. But you can also shop online and return shoes if they don’t fit — another perk of the co-op membership.

Pill organizers. Don’t laugh, because keeping track of multiple bottles of different medications can be a nightmare during travel, especially if you are trying to keep things light. It also gets tricky when crossing multiple time zones, getting tired, and forgetting if you took your daily what’s-it-or-another at the right time (that’s almost never happened to me). This colorful, sleek pill organizer is a brilliant solution. One case carries seven days’ worth of pills, so at barely $14/case, I’d get two.

Portable charger. Today’s senior traveler is as web-savvy as they come, with tablets, smartphones and cameras to charge and recharge as the trip goes on. If you will be away from power for any extended period of time, a charging bank is a portable solution. There are several on the market, but I like the RAVPower 167050. It has enough juice and two USB ports so multiple devices can charge at once. $30. Note: Most power banks use lithium ion batteries, so you cannot store the bank in checked luggage. And some shippers will not mail them to Alaska.

Erin Kirkland is an Anchorage-based freelance travel journalist who takes joy in discovering all kinds of new ways to see the world.