Traveling with the Elderly
If you have aging parents or grandparents who still wish to travel, you may be wondering how you can help them enjoy a terrific family vacation. Whether they want to visit family members (especially grandchildren), travel to a faraway place they have always dreamed of seeing, or revisit a place they have always loved, it is likely that your aging relatives will need some help to make their travel dreams come true. Traveling with the Elderly, here are some tips to help you guide them through the process:
Once your destination and travel dates have been decided, you can begin making reservations. Check several travel options (Amtrak, airlines, buses, etc) for the shortest travel routes and times and look into any special benefits and services each company offers. While senior discount rates are nearly extinct, Southwest Airlines and Amtrak still provide them. SmarterTravel.com is a good resource for senior-friendly travel.
Request Special Services
If needed, request seats in rows reserved for disabled travelers, and request wheelchair service at each airport you will travel through. This should begin at the check-in counter and continue through security and onto the gate where you board the plane. Make sure you make special requests at the time of booking your reservation, because companies are not obligated to make them available to you after checking in. Also, if you are traveling to one of the luxury resorts around the world, be sure to let the staff know in advance so accommodations can be made ahead of time. They may be able to give you a room on the ground floor or one close to the elevator so that your elderly companion won’t have to walk as far to get where they are going.
Get Documents Ready
When embarking on international travel, ensure you and your relative(s) have been issued a valid passport long before your travel dates. It is wise to make copies (three sets minimum) of their passport, driver’s license, insurance and Medicare cards, travel tickets, boarding pass and itinerary. Place one copy in checked luggage, one in their carry-on and leave one set at home.
If possible, pack everything they will need for their entire journey into their carry-on suitcase and personal item (tote or backpack). All over-the-counter and prescription medications should be placed in a ziplock bag along with copies of their prescriptions and/or doctor’s orders or statements about medical conditions. If they plan to take gifts, pack them unwrapped so you don’t run into trouble going through security.
Focus on Safety and Comfort
Thieves commonly prey on the traveling elderly, so help protect them against danger by outfitting them with a product that can keep their money and documents safer than a traditional purse or wallet. Money belts, hidden wallets worn inside of pants or the Passage Wallet that hangs from the neck underneath clothing are all great choices. A pillow and blanket can help make their trip more comfortable, while having them wear shoes that are easy to take off and put back on will help security screenings go quicker and easier.
Not only will your help undoubtedly be greatly appreciated as you travel with your elderly relative, it may turn out to be an amazing trip for you as well!