A family trip isn’t complete unless the whole family is there. But sometimes traveling with grandparents and other elderly family members can be difficult. Luckily the travel industry has several tips and tricks to make traveling with the elderly easier. Here’s what to consider.
Prepare Them for the Trip
The elderly can usually handle more than you think if they’re just informed first. If they are avid travelers, preparing them for the trip may not be as crucial. But if your elderly buddy is new to traveling or flying, make sure they’re fully prepped.
Explain how airports and the transfers between them are usually chaotic. Let them know they’ll have to pay attention, as there are often delays, cancellations, lots of commotion, and a ton of people moving. Let them know that you’ll be with them the whole way, and be sure to have them tell you if they are confused or need to slow down.
Most of us have plenty of forms of identification ready, but that isn’t always the case with elderly people. If they have given up driving or haven’t traveled in quite some time, chances are they may not have a valid form of I.D. Because getting a new I.D. usually takes quite a bit of time, make sure you verify well before the trip if they have any I.D. that is acceptable, and if not, how you can get them one in time.
Because your elderly family member may need to bring more than one form of identification, medical records, cash, and credit cards, it is best to equip them with a neck stash or money belt. This will keep their items in order, and will make them feel more comfortable when they’re traveling. By outfitting them with these travel necessities, you’ll ensure they won’t lose their important documents.
Almost all airlines let those with elderly travel companions board early along with the young children. This allows them a few extra minutes to make their way to the plane, find their seat, and get settled. Try to choose a seat that has easy access in and out - most times this means an aisle seat.
Unless you need to hastily change planes, take a seat and wait till everyone has left the plane until you make your exit. Planes typically exit from front to back, row to row. But waiting until the end will help any elder travel partners feel less stressed as they can leave the plane on their own time and terms.
The last thing the elderly need to worry about is lugging heavy bags around. Help them pack before you leave for the trip so they don’t over-do it. Remind them that they can re-wear some items or wash others. Use a lightweight bag that they won’t have trouble carrying, but is very well made and can support the travel. A packable duffle is a great option for the elderly, as they can carry it easily or hang it off the back of a wheelchair.
Many elderly have multiple medications they need to bring while traveling. For those that can pack their medications away during a shorter travel time in their checked luggage, a hanging toiletry bag will work best. Different medications can be stored in the various compartments, and you can rest assured that they will be safe inside the durable bag. If your elderly family member needs to take their medicine on the plane, organizer zip bags work great. Because they’re clear, you’ll be able to see exactly what’s inside. These zip bags also work well inside the toiletry bags, large duffle bags, or backpacks, making them great additions to any carry-on.
Call for a Ride
Have you ever seen the car-type vehicles that zoom around airports with a beeping noise or blinking light? Those are for you and your guests to use. Even if your elderly travel partner can walk just fine, these carts are often a good idea as it is much easier than having them navigate through busy crowds, and you can be sure their luggage won’t get lost in the process.
Many times these carts are waiting around to pick up and drop off patrons, but check with your local airport ahead of time to see if you can arrange for one to meet you at a specific time. They’re usually free for patrons.
Pack an Extra Blanket
Elderly people often run cold, so make sure to pack them an extra blanket or sweater. While blankets used to be free on airplanes, that isn’t the case anymore on most flights. Make sure your travel buddy is comfortable while they’re traveling.
Bringing an elderly family member on your next trip is guaranteed to be the highlight of your travel. With a few adjustments and extra considerations, it’ll be no big deal that you’re adding another member to your travel pack.