For seniors, a trip with their family—their children and grandchildren—is a treat they will greatly appreciate. That being said, traveling with seniors requires some compromise, patience, and understanding. To make the process easier, here are some pro tips for traveling with the elderly.
Handle the Reservations
Take the stress of planning a vacation off their shoulders by handling the reservations yourself. When you’re researching accommodations and transportation, just keep in mind what will be easiest for them. For example, day tours versus booking a car; all-inclusive resorts versus hotels; direct flights versus connecting. And be sure to inform them of the plans that are being made. This way, if they have any concerns or input, they can speak up.
Consider an All-Inclusive Resort
When planning your trip, give some thought to booking an all-inclusive resort. Depending on the destination you choose, there likely will be activities available for everyone—grandparents, adults, and children—that will allow everyone to spend family time together. Meals are also part of an all-inclusive vacation, so there will be less to worry about and plan.
Some resorts offer 2 and 3 bedroom suites, allowing everyone in the family to stay together while retaining their own space. Seniors can often be light sleepers and will appreciate having their own rooms at night and for naps if needed.
If you consider a resort in the Caribbean, the warm weather will often help arthritic seniors to feel better.
Consider a Cruise
Instead of sticking to land, you can also consider taking a cruise. As with an all-inclusive resort, there will be many activities on board the ship, designed for all ages and for families. Everyone can enjoy time together as well as time apart. A cruise ship allows for much relaxation while at sea and between destinations. Plus, some meals are included and some entertaining shows as well.
The destination stops will provide new excitement and activities, a welcome break from the days spent on board. Your elders will also enjoy a day of sightseeing and exploring new destinations. The following days on the ship as you move on to the next stop will provide them with much-needed rest after a day of activities.
Take Day Tours
If you are staying on land and want to see as much as you can without tiring the elders, take day tours. Not only will a tour bus provide you with transportation, but it will also take you to highlights of your destination, and will offer recommendations for places to eat. Your seniors won’t have to do too much walking if they need a rest throughout the day, as they always have the bus to return to. Activities on day tours usually are not too intensive either.
Book Non-Stop Flights
As mentioned above, when making reservations you will need to consider what is easiest for your elders. Non-stop flights will be less stressful for everyone on the trip, so you won’t need to worry about running through the airport to catch the next flight. As well, the quicker you arrive at your destination, the less tiring the journey will be. When you are booking this flight, look for senior discounts, and these deals might even include an accompanying adult. And remember, if your elder requires a special diabetic meal while on board, this is something that will require advance ordering.
When moving through the airport to your gate, request a wheelchair. You will be able to move a little quicker, and your elders will tire less easily. When going through security, inform TSA officers of any medical conditions that might interfere with screening, such as surgical replacements. Some airports will allow elders over 75 with mobility issues to bypass the removal of light jackets or shoes.
When you are planning the trip, make sure you schedule time for rest and relaxation. Your elders will need time after a day, or even a partial day of activities to rest up or just take it easy by sitting in front of the TV, taking a nap, or lounging under an umbrella by the pool. You will also need some downtime yourself because caretaking can be exhausting, so you can take time to relax as well, or pursue your own activity. If you choose to go off on your own for a few hours, ensure your seniors have something to occupy their time and will be alright on their own during your time away.
Remind your elderly travel companions to pack lightly with only what they really need, especially as they may want to do some shopping as part of their downtime activities. Pack lightly yourself, as you will need to help carry their luggage through the airport. Packing everything within a wheeled carry-on suitcase will cut down the amount of time that needs to be spent in your destination airport.
Pack these Important Items
Make sure they have all their medication packed, and in the carry-on to ensure it arrives at the destination with them. Leave it in the original packaging so it can be identified by security officials. As back-ups, make copies of their prescriptions and passport, just in case they misplace something.
And Finally, Be Patient
Don’t let disagreements or frustration over care-taking ruin your trip. It may be the last vacation your seniors can manage due to medical limitations, or simply old age. So try to savor this special vacation. Be flexible and accommodating with your plans and enjoy this time with family.