Whether you’re taking a trip to visit far-away family or going on a destination vacation, traveling can be one of the most fulfilling experiences to share with the people we love. As mom and dad get older, there’s no reason to leave them behind just because they’re slowing down. Mobility limitations or health conditions can make traveling trickier, but taking steps to prepare will help you avoid common senior travel troubles. Use this checklist to ensure that your trips together are nothing but smooth sailing.
Consult a physician – Before any trip, make sure their primary care doctor has cleared your loved one for travel. This is especially important if you will be accommodating a condition such as Alzheimer’s. Discuss travel arrangements with the physician to make sure all plans are within your loved one’s limitations.
Plan in advance – Travel always goes more smoothly when you have the details laid out well in advance. When traveling with seniors, it’s best to get an even earlier start on planning and to do more thorough research. Find out which routes are the most direct for shorter travel time, which airlines cater to seniors with services and benefits such as pre-boarding, and how you can request special assistance ahead of time.
Arrange special services – If your loved one does require special services, make sure these are reserved in advance. Request specific seat assignment, wheelchair service, and meal service catered to any dietary restrictions. If mom or dad will be traveling alone, make sure the staff is aware and is prepared to provide extra attention.
Pack smart – Packing smart means packing light. Try to fit all items into a compact carry-on suitcase plus a small bag containing essential items such as important documents, a travel pillow, and medication that can be easily accessible en route. Be sure to store all medications in a 1-quart Ziploc freezer bag if you are traveling by air, and to have copies of prescriptions or doctor’s notes for reference if asked.
Consider the destination – When deciding to travel with an aging loved one, it’s important that your chosen destination be appropriate to their interests and limitations. If visiting family, ensure they’re prepared to make your loved one feel at home when they arrive. If taking a more adventurous vacation, consider a cruise or one of the many senior tour companies that organize trips that cater to the needs of older travelers. You’ll both have more fun if you’re taking the trip at the right pace.