5 Health and Safety Tips for Traveling With Older Family Members3 min read
Traveling is one of life’s greatest joys. Nothing compares to exploring the world, especially when you do it alongside the people you love. But vacationing with older family members may bring particular worries.
Everyone is different; some people in their 80s are more active than those decades younger, while others may be slowing down. Fortunately, you can take steps to ensure your next trip goes smoothly for everyone.
Remember these health and safety tips for older members of your travel party.
1. Time Your Vacation Carefully
Whether you’re getting ready for your annual summer vacation or planning a trip over the winter holidays, you should consider your older family members’ comfort and potential limitations.
Extreme weather, like heat, is more dangerous for older adults. Instead of a beach trip during the hottest week of the year, consider visiting a milder climate or ensuring everyone has access to air conditioning, shade and water to stay hydrated and comfortable.
You should also keep the length of your trip in mind. While you might be up for a two-week journey around Europe, older relatives might prefer a shorter vacation. Limit the duration of your trip to something that works for everyone.
2. Express With Physicians
You or your relative should contact their regular physician or other doctors before a trip. Discussing upcoming travel plans will ensure they have enough medication, proper immunizations and other precautions.
Getting sick on a vacation isn’t fun, but you must prepare for the possibilities. Consider any medical emergencies that may arise. While you might not want to think about potential problems, it’s better to have a plan in place. Bring sanitary wipes to keep germs at bay and carry a first-aid kit with you on your travels, along with the phone numbers of your relatives’ doctors.
3. Travel Lightly
Dragging heavy luggage on and off planes or around a new city is hard enough for anyone. It can be downright impossible for your older family members. Even younger relatives will struggle if they have to carry their luggage plus someone else’s.
The solution is to pack less. Stick to the essentials, such as vitamins, sunscreen and a supportive pair of shoes, and consider leaving room for souvenirs. You can also invest in good luggage. Wheeled bags might be easier for older family members to move than suitcases, duffle bags or backpacks.
4. Plan a Comfortable Itinerary
Everyone wants to have fun on vacation or an enjoyable visit with friends and family. Fortunately, there’s always something for everyone to do. Ensure you incorporate fun activities that family members of all ages will enjoy.
Before your trip, map out a daily schedule so everyone knows what to expect. You don’t have to plan down to the minute—in fact, a loose itinerary with some wiggle room and scheduled downtime is a good idea. Consider giving people options and ensure if an older family member doesn’t want to participate in a planned activity, they have a suitable, engaging alternative, such as playing a game to keep cognitive skills active, relaxation activities like a spa, or listening to music outside.
5. Seek Accommodations
As you plan and embark on your trip, seek accommodations for your older family members. Hotels, airlines, restaurants and other hospitality venues are often more than happy to ensure your travels are smooth for everyone.
Book a seat on a flight that is comfortable and has enough space for your relative to stretch their legs. If someone in your party uses a wheelchair or other mobility aids, ensure the resort is accessible and call 24-48 hours in advance to ensure everything is ready. If necessary, seek lodging near a hospital or medical center.
Traveling Smoothly With Older Family Members
Age doesn’t have to limit your travels. Whether flying across the country or exploring a new destination, your entire party, including older relatives, can have a good time. Follow these tips to ensure everyone makes memories that last a lifetime.