With the holidays upon us, one of the greatest gifts you can share with Mom or Dad is the gift of travel. Whether you are planning a trip for them to visit grandchildren or taking a family excursion abroad, it is important to plan ahead to accommodate their evolving needs as they age. We have compiled 8 tips to help your senior loved one travel with ease, regardless of whether he or she is traveling with company or alone.
- Talk with Mom or Dad about his/her travel wishes. Before booking a trip, have a conversation with Mom or Dad about whether he or she would like to travel and to where. Some senior loved ones may be excited about traveling abroad, while others may prefer a short car or train ride to stay relatively local. Consider Mom or Dad’s needs and wishes before solidifying travel plans.
- Plan ahead for the simplest routes. Research which mode of travel is the easiest and most efficient. Try to find routes that are more direct and require less travel time. For example, you will want to avoid layovers at all costs; if the trip does require a layover to get to the final destination, allow ample time to reach the connecting flight.
- Request assistance in advance. If a loved one has physical limitations, Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, or requires minor assistance, call the airline in advance to request disabled seating, assistive devices, or help carrying mom or dad’s bags.
- Ensure the destination is prepared. Call the hotels and tourist destinations you plan on visiting to ensure they can accommodate your loved one’s needs. If your loved one is traveling to visit family or friends, call to ensure they understand your loved one’s needs and are prepared to accommodate them. Giving them time to prepare will ensure your loved one is comfortable and safe.
- Print documents and make copies. Prepare a travel folder for your loved one and include a full itinerary along with copies of airplane or bus tickets, hotel registration, and photocopies of important documents such as a passport or physician’s note. If your senior loved one is traveling alone, give him or her two folders in case one is misplaced.
- Identify emergency contacts. Designate two to three people as emergency contacts, and inform them of your travel plans. Send them ticket information and a full itinerary in advance so that they are prepared in advance should they be needed. If they are traveling to meet family and friends, send them a travel itinerary so that they know when to expect your loved one.
- Pack the important things. It is a good idea to pack light and ensure that your loved one packs the essentials, including any medication or medical devices he or she will need on his or her trip. Create a document outlining what time medications should be taken, and ask staff or loved ones at the destination to remind Mom or Dad when it is time to take it.
- Protect belongings. In crowded places such as airports and train stations, it’s easy to become the target of a thief. Decrease your loved one’s chances of being robbed by suggesting that Mom switch out her purse for a money belt that can be worn under her shirt or by recommending that Dad use a travel wallet on a neck cord that can be worn under his coat.