Learn how to help your loved one make the most out of their vacation
Obstacles can arise when traveling for anyone, but there are unique challenges that can come up when traveling with seniors. It’s important that you and your loved one are as prepared as possible for travel to ensure your trip is a pleasant experience for everyone.
Continue reading to learn our top tips for how to help yourself or your loved one prepare for travel to visit family, go on a multigenerational vacation, or a weekend getaway with friends.
#1: Plan ahead.
Once you’ve established that you will be traveling with your senior loved one, it’s important to let them know as soon as possible.
If you haven’t yet decided on a location, invite them to suggest places they’d like to go to help them feel involved and get excited for the trip.
Once you’ve decided on a vacation destination, encourage your loved one to come up with a list of their must-do items. Find out if there are any specific museums, attractions, or restaurants they want to see; then plan those into any activities you may have planned. It’s important that your loved one feels they are truly part of the vacation and not just tagging along.
#2: Gather important documents.
Before leaving for your vacation, it can be helpful to gather and organize any important medical information and personal identification.
First, you’ll want to look for a valid form of identification, this could be a passport or driver’s license depending on where you’re traveling. If your loved one no longer drives, you can look into getting them a state-issued identification card. A state ID card has all of the same information that a driver’s license does, but you are not required to take a test to obtain one. If they already have a form of identification, ensure that it is not expired. Ensuring that your loved one has the appropriate identification is critical to having a smooth and enjoyable vacation.
Obtaining all of your loved ones medical information is also critical. If you’re traveling by plane, you may know that any liquids in your carry-on need to be in a container that is 3.4 ounces or less and fit in a quart-sized bag. However, you may not know that this rule does not apply to liquid medicine as long as you have a valid prescription.
#3: Pack smart.
When you’re helping your loved one pack, you should consider the method of travel and the distance. If you’re traveling long-distance, it can be a good idea to pack some snacks that you know your loved one enjoys. Planes and trains may offer snacks or meals, but they may prefer their food from home. You should also always keep a water bottle easily accessible.
If you and your loved one are traveling by plane or train, it’s important to ensure that you pack their medications and anything else they will need on the way. A good rule of thumb to follow is to pack anything in your carry-on bag that you would need for a few days if your luggage gets lost.
#4: Do your research.
While you’re planning where to stay and what to do, it’s also important to ensure that your hotel and activities are accessible if your loved one requires a mobility aid or experiences trouble with steps or walking long distances.
When looking at a hotel or an Airbnb, you should look at the accessibility features before booking to ensure that your loved one will be able to enjoy their stay. Look for handicap parking spots, elevators, and an accessible room and bathroom.
As for the attractions you’re planning, try to avoid ones that have too much walking or too many steps. Also, look for attractions that have some relaxation areas, so you can take breaks along the way.
Ultimately, you and your loved one know their limits and activity level best, and it’s always best to err on the side of caution. It’s also important for you to consider that your loved one may feel embarrassed or ashamed if there are certain activities they feel they can’t do. Try to pay attention to their body language and look out for any signs indicating that they may be tired.
#5: Prepare for travel.
In the days before your trip, it’s a good idea to adequately prepare for travel. Whether your loved one is traveling by car, plane, or train, there are unique situations you should be prepared for beforehand.
Planes are a great option for traveling long-distances quickly. Many airlines are also very accommodating, allowing people with mobility aids to board before most passengers. However, airports can also be confusing and require a lot of walking and standing that seniors may find overwhelming.
Trains are another option for travel that allow your loved one more space and beautiful scenery than planes. Trains, however, offer less accessibility and likely take longer than a flight.
Finally, cars are also a great option for traveling with seniors. Road trips allow you and your loved one to decide on the stops and their frequency depending on what works best for you. Cars are also generally the most affordable option. However, cars are usually the slowest option of travel, depending on how far you’re looking to travel.
#6: Communicate clearly.
Once you’ve told your loved one that you’re planning a trip and you’ve presented some activities, ensure that they feel comfortable enough to bring up any concerns or questions about the trip.
It’s important that your loved one feels heard when it comes to the travel plans, so that they can fully enjoy their vacation without worrying about an activity or hotel they may have concerns about.
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