Age no bar to travel: How this 70-year-old couple embarked on an Indian road trip

Age no bar to travel: How this 70-year-old couple embarked on an Indian road trip
Gopalakrishnan and Radhalakshmy with their son during their 60-day Indian road trip

When the world is your oyster, should age play spoilsport? Not really! At least this husband and wife in their 70s are going against the grain and pursuing their love for travelling. Idukki-based couple Gopalakrishnan and Radhalakshmy recently completed a 60-day road trip and they couldn’t be any happier. Also, their only son also accompanied them on this journey.

They are farmers by profession and live in Idukki. Those who are under the illusion that there is an age limit to travel and see the world, look no further than this couple for inspiration. They have managed to live their dream. It was a year and a half years ago that they could put their dreams into reality. When their son decided to accompany them, he was discouraged not to fall in tune with their mad plans, but he still went along. All that the son wanted was to help his parents fulfil their dream to see the world.

Travel light with a tight rein on the budget

On top of their priority destinations were little-known pilgrimages and visiting historic monuments. The idea was to spend little and see a lot of places. They mostly relied on ashrams and low-budget hotels and lodges for their accommodation.

When it comes to their favourite destination so far, both insist on Kashi. This holy city at Varanasi is also home to the revered Kashi Vishwanath Temple. This temple practices Shaiva philosophy and is famous for its gold-plated domes and spires and its Nandi Bull statue. The best time to visit Varanasi for a temple darshan is in winter, between October through March. The weather, though cold in December and January, suits travellers since most sightseeing is outdoors. If you are not looking to attend one of the aartis, then the best time to visit the temple is at 7 am, to avoid long queues.

Things to do at Kashi

Visit the Dashashwamedh Ghat which is known for its proximity to the temple and Ganga Aarti.

Visit the Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath

Explore the 1750’s Ramnagar Fort on the eastern banks of River Ganga

Check out the Sarnath Museum for its archaeological artifacts dating from the 3rd -century BCE

Make sure you visit the Gyanvapi Mosque, which shares a wall with the Kashi temple.

That they managed to finish the trip all hale and hearty makes it an inspiration for elderly people to make that much-needed Indian road trip.

That unforgettable incident

At Jharkhand, unfortunately, they lost their way and even managed to spend a night in an area infamous for camping robbers and Naxals. But thankfully, the villagers were kind, and their fears were unfounded as they even offered them home-cooked food. They are planning to make that trip to North-East next.

Tips for elderly travellers

Be discreet about your whereabouts: Though travellers assume hotels are safe, the truth is that people with bad intentions can come and go quite easily in most hotels. But a few tactics can help older travellers, who are often seen as better targets, protect their belongings. One tip is not to put the “clean my room” sign on your hotel door. Those signs are an open invitation to let people know that the room is empty. Thieves know that travellers usually leave their passports, extra money, and jewelry in their rooms, and they know how to jimmy open locks. You don’t want to advertise that you’re not there. Instead, call the front desk on the way out and let them know you’ll be leaving and that they can send someone up to clean the room.

Watch what you eat: Older folks tend to have more sensitive tummies and are frequently on restricted diets. It’s understandable to want to forget those facts while away from home but doing so could have undesirable side effects. Don’t experiment with local food, go easy on spices. If you are taking any medication, call your doctor before you leave for a trip to find out if certain foods popular in your destination are off-limits.

Stock up on medicines: They need to stock up on necessary medicines. Don’t leave them lying in the open in your hotel room. And always make sure you’ve got enough medicine to last you an extra day or two just in case your flight home is delayed. List the names of any essential medicines you take and their dosages so you can try to replace them if needed. If you take a brand-name medication, write down the generic name too. Even better: Try to find out the name of the medication in the language of the destination you’re traveling to.

Don't travel around at night. Look for destinations with easy walkability and public transportation.

Avoid wearing expensive jewellery.

Wear valuables (such as traveller's cheques and credit cards) on a belt worn under the clothes and next to the skin.

Consider carrying a 'dummy' wallet holding a small amount of cash. If you are directly confronted by a mugger, you can hand over the dummy wallet and avoid further distress.

If you are concerned about your health, arrange to go on a package tour.

Include a medical kit in your carry-on bag. Items to consider include regular medications, painkillers, antacids, and band-aids.

It might be a good idea to take along a pillbox with compartments for different days of the week. Being away from home (and your usual routine) could make you more likely to forget to take your medication.

Pack a spare pair of glasses.

It may be easier if you use a suitcase with wheels.

And as for the kids, travel with Mom or Dad. You may find it to be one of the best experiences of your life. Yes, you continue to be a caregiver, but your travel and destination will probably prove to be an escape, a freedom because of the new setting, environment, and opportunity. No matter how old we all are, family trips lead to family memories made together.

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