Summer is quickly approaching and many families are making plans for vacations. If you have elderly parents that will be traveling with you, there are some special ways you can ensure they will be prepared for their journey. Don’t pack those suitcases without first reading these invaluable tips!
Here is a checklist that can turn your vacation with your elderly parents into a wonderful travel experience.
1) Passports: If planning for an international trip, make sure your parents’ passports are in order. If they don’t already have them, your local town clerk’s office or post office should have applications available. You should count on it taking at least six weeks to get the passports by mail, sooner if you pay an additional fee for a speedier return.
2) Travelers’ Checks: Take your parents to the bank and help them get travelers’ checks. Elderly persons traveling with a lot of cash can be an easy target for pickpockets and other cons. Travelers’ checks are very convenient; they can be cashed when needed, and are easily replaceable if lost.
3) Air Travel: If your parents have any food restrictions, contact the airlines and request information on the special meals they have available for seniors. Most airlines will have either low-sodium meals or diet meals, but you need to request them in advance.
4) Hotels: If you are planning to stay at hotels/motels check ahead to find out if the accommodation has an elevator. Sometimes elderly parents have difficulty climbing stairs. For most hotels this shouldn’t be a problem, but at some motels elevators aren’t available. If your parents have that difficulty, book ahead for a room on the ground floor level.
5) Medication: Make sure your parents have sufficient re-fills of all their prescription drugs before hitting the road. It’s better to take extra medication with you in case of an emergency while traveling.
6) Health Insurance: Most health insurance companies will provide coverage for their customers while they travel. If might be a good idea to call ahead and find out what your parents’ specific company’s policy is on this.
7) Luggage: Years ago, most luggage did not have the capability to be pulled. Fortunately, companies now make a vast array of suitcases with wheels that can be handled by all ages. Check your parents’ suitcases to make sure they are up to date and easy for them to handle. If not, invest in some new luggage that your parents can use with ease.
8 ) Packing: Help you parents pack if you think this chore may be too difficult for them. It’s also a good way to know if your parents need to purchase certain items for their trip that they may need.
9) Tours: If you’re not traveling with your parents and they would like to go away, check with your travel agent about packages created for senior citizens. There are many tours available that are targeted for seniors and your parents will be traveling with people in their own age group.
10) Itinerary: If your parents are nervous about traveling try to appease their fears by giving them an itinerary in advance. If a planned activity doesn’t appeal to them, you can make alternate arrangements beforehand, instead of having to tackle the change in plans while there.
11) Type of Transportation: Whether you are taking an airplane, bus, train, or the family car, discuss the mode of transportation with your parents. Your parents may have travel phobias or prefer one mode of transportation over the other.
12) Securing the House: Reassure your parents that the house will be secure while they travel. You don’t want your parents worrying about their property while away from home. You can secure valuables in a bank safety deposit box or you might want to invest in a home safe. Having automatic lights for the house and a neighbor checking on the home will also make your parents feel more comfortable about taking a vacation.
13) Family Friendly Resorts: If you and your spouse are dreaming of lying on the beach for a week, but your elderly parents don’t like the sun, look into family friendly resorts. Many resorts focus on the needs of the whole family and offer a multitude of different activities for each age group. While you bask in the sun, your parents can pursue other enjoyments more in tune with their interests.
14) Departing: If traveling by air, try to get to the airport early. I know my parents like to check in early, (more chance of getting seats they prefer) plus it gives them a chance to get their bearings. Rushing and waiting to the last minute to race to the airport can stress out your parents and start the vacation off on a bad note.
15) Agree on a the Length of the Vacation: If you’re flexible about traveling and often extend your vacation during it, discuss this option with your parents. They may only like to be gone for a specific length of time, so the length of the trip should be agreed upon beforehand.
16) Laugh: If something goes wrong with your plans or last minute changes occur, don’t fret about it, try to laugh about it instead. Not everything will go according to schedule and you should expect some glitches in your traveling. Remember laughter can lighten any mood!
Traveling with elderly parents can be fun for everyone involved. By carefully planning and discussing the trip well in advance, and by taking into account the tips outlined here, all your family members will enjoy themselves. Most importantly, have fun! Leave behind family quarrels and arguments. Let this be a time for the whole family to share with one another. Traveling doesn’t have to be stressful if you approach it with a positive and open attitude. You may be pleasantly surprised that your trip results in attaining family cohesiveness!