Opportunities to travel, see friends and family, and experience new places shouldn’t be lost to seniors just because they are making their way up in years.
Whether your parents want to travel to visit family and friends or just to explore and have the experience of travelling, trips can take seniors to other cities, across the country, or to a different part of the world all together.
As is the case with many aspects of growing older, there are some features of older age that can make travelling a little more challenging for seniors or, if not necessarily more challenging, certainly in need of a little more attention in certain areas.
Research and Planning
There is always a fair amount of researching and planning that goes into organising a trip, but when it comes to seniors there are a few extra points that need to be thought through.
- The Destination: Thinking about the destination and its suitability for travelling with your senior companion can be an important part of making sure the trip is a manageable and enjoyable one. When choosing a destination, think about how well it fits with what seniors can comfortably and happily do in terms of activities and events, as well as what interests them and what they hope to get out of the experience.
- Special Services: When it comes to travelling, there are often special accommodations and options available to seniors that can help to make their travel more safe and comfortable. Arrange for a shuttle or wheelchair within the airport to help seniors get from one place to another, take special care when choosing seats on the plane, and inform staff of any special requirements for during the travel itself. If a senior will be travelling on their own, it is often possible to arrange for a staff member within the airport or from the plane to accompany them throughout each step until they arrive.
- Documentation: Keeping track of all the necessary documentation and papers can be an extra stress for seniors, so taking some time to help them arrange and organize everything from passports, tickets, ID, and emergency contact info to itineraries and travel details ahead of time in a way that is easy for them to manage can help them feel more at ease, and can make it easier for you or for staff members to help them throughout the travel process.
- Check with a Doctor: Before planning any travel, always make sure that a doctor gives the green light. Checking in with a doctor about your destination, plans, and mode of transport can help them let you know what is okay and how to plan in advance for possible health-related challenges.
- Services at Your Destination: It can help create some peace of mind to have an idea of medical facilities and other possible services that are available at your destination in case anything should go wrong.
In terms of packing, it is always somewhat easier to keep track of fewer things, so packing light can be better is many cases. That being said, it is also important to make sure that all needs are tended to and that all necessities make their way into those bags. Give some meaningful thought to which items are best kept in carry-on if you decide to check any bags, and make sure seniors are easily able to identify their own bags so they can keep track of their things.
Making sure medications are available in the right amounts for the duration of the trip is always important, and packing a few extra is always a good idea in case something goes wrong with the travel or a pill or two get dropped or lost.
Thinking about what you will actually need on a trip can sometimes be difficult, so sitting down and taking some time to make a list of how many of each clothing items are necessary based on the number of days and the weather forecast can be really helpful. Make sure seniors have enough comfortable clothes and some good shoes that will get them through the trip happily.
When it comes to the travel itself, one major consideration is time. When travelling with an elderly person, it is often best practice to give yourself more time than you would if you were travelling with younger folks. Sometimes seniors need to take more breaks, are slower moving, or just get overwhelmed and need to take things at their own pace, so tack some extra time on to avoid being late for anything along the way.
Making sure that seniors have an easy way to get in touch throughout the travel can also be helpful, whether they need to check in with you along the way to let you know how things are going, or whether you are travelling together and you need a way to reconnect if you get separated, communicating is important along the way. Whether it be texting, calling, or something else that works well for you, make sure to factor this element in to keep everyone at ease.
Lastly, enjoy the experience! Travelling can be such a wonderful way to broaden perspectives, learn new things, re-connect with old memories, or just explore and have diverse experiences. Travelling has its stressful elements, but always remember to enjoy it and make wonderful memories along the way.