Things You Should Know Before You Go
People travel for all kinds of reasons. Most often, travel is directly correlated with vacation, or pleasure! We travel to explore new places, try new things, and immerse ourselves in a culture many worlds away, often gaining a new appreciation and understanding for how others live. Sometimes we need to mentally reset and step away from the monotony of our day to day lives; so, we book a trip to get away, unwind, rejuvenate, and regroup. The sole purpose of travel in this case is relaxation. Other times our travel is more obligatory, but often, still enjoyable, such as when we make plans to travel for work or to visit out of town relatives. This may be a simple visit with someone who lives far away, or a special occasion, such as a wedding, graduation, birth of a grandchild, or a milestone birthday that you would not want to miss! Then there are times when we travel unexpectedly, and usually with heavy hearts; such times may be to visit a sick friend or family member, lay a loved one to rest, or tend to a loved one’s estate.
No matter what our reasons are, a well-planned trip, especially when seniors are involved, helps to eliminate any unnecessary stress or mishaps along the way. Taking the extra steps to ensure that you’re well prepared can set the tone for your travel, despite the circumstances. If your loved one is still eager and willing to travel, we encourage you to take them along! This is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time together and make priceless memories. If they’re still capable of traveling, but a bit nervous or hesitant, sit down with them, talk out the plans, and motivate them to take the trip. In cases where the trip is unexpected, weigh out the options and keep your loved one’s best interests in mind to determine whether or not travel is a suitable, and safe, option for them. If you decide to make the trip, here are some tips to assist in making your travel as seamless and smooth as possible.
Location, Location, Location!
If you are planning a trip purely for pleasure, then choose a location that is suitable and desirable for your whole party. Consider the destination and decide whether it would be enjoyable for you, your kids, and Grandma & Grandpa alike. Choose a family-friendly destination that offers attractions and entertainment for all ages. Cruises and all-inclusive destinations are often easy options for multi-generational groups; the resort or cruise ship usually offer something for everyone… and all in one spot!
Consider your crowd and keep your expectations realistic. Know that your kids and their grandparents will need some downtime built into the schedule. Avoid activities on travel days, as the majority of your party will likely be worn out. Instead, consider take out and a movie! Additionally, try not to overbook activities on any given day; it’s easy to get excited and want to fit it ALL in. It’s better to take your time and truly enjoy a few activities each day than try to jam pack your schedule and end up with a bunch of grumpy and worn-out travelers.
Make the trip enjoyable for all! Poll the audience and see if they have any “must-see”, “must-do” requests for the trip. Try to honor these requests if they are within reason. This will get everyone excited about the trip and will ensure some vested interest in the travels. Grandma will likely have a story to go with her “must-see” choice and may have some wonderful knowledge and insight to share as well. If it’s a spot your kiddos pick out, they may help to bring out the inner kid in you, and your parents! Planning a trip that has something for everyone is sure to make for a more enjoyable experience for all. Everyone may not like every activity planned, but sometimes we must take one for the team!
If traveling by plane, book priority seating so your group can sit together. Opt for aisle seating for your elderly travel companions, allowing them generous leg room to move about, and easy access to the restroom. Have everyone’s travel documents well organized and easily accessible to ensure seamless check-in and boarding. Plan for your loved ones to wear comfortable clothes and shoes that are easy to slip on and off, to expedite the security process. Familiarize yourself with the airport, and line up any additional transportation assistance that may be necessary– such as a wheelchair or a shuttle. Plan for adequate layover times and allow yourself ample time to navigate through the terminals.
For car trips, map out your route ahead of time and research your rest stops, to the best of your ability. Account for extra stops for everyone to stretch their legs, and plan for extra bathroom stops as well. Planning a sit-down lunch is a great way to allow everyone time to move around and stretch a bit, as well as fill their bellies. Pack an adequate amount of snacks and water, so everyone stays well hydrated. If your travel time is particularly long, consider breaking the trip up into 2 days, or more, if necessary.
Take any dietary needs into consideration when making reservations or planning meals on the go. Be aware of any food allergies your loved ones may have and plan accordingly. Many national chains provide an allergy list available online. Local, family-owned restaurants are usually able to work with your dietary needs, if you ask! If you’re trying to eat heart-healthy or have sodium restrictions, plan to cook some of the meals yourself. Keep this in mind when booking your venue, if this is something that’s important to your group. Make reservations, when you can, to avoid wait times and to keep your trip flowing smoothly.
Medications & Medical Care
You can never be too over-prepared when it comes to medications and travel. Before leaving town, help your elderly travelers sort all of their medications. Allow enough for each day of travel, plus an emergency supply of at least 3 days. Have a medication list readily available, as well as access to refills in the event of an emergency. If you’re traveling by plane, be sure to pack your meds in your carry-on to avoid any lost luggage mishaps! Before leaving town, visit your primary care physician for a well-check and clearance to travel; request a copy of your medical history to bring along, just in case!
For additional travel tips and senior discount savings, visit AARP.com. Your next adventure awaits– get out there and start exploring! Book the trip… make the memories… and safe travels!