I love memory making trips. On a whim of inspiration, I decided to take
my 80-year-old Mom to New England to explore some family history. It was the first time I’d ever traveled alone with Mom. We made a lot of memories, and I learned some tips for senior travelers.
Take charge of the travel reservations choosing flights with the fewest transfers. Non-stop are great. Avoid early morning or late night travel. Seniors have more challenges with these. Mid-morning or afternoon travel is much easier for them.
When I didn’t have that choice, we stayed at a hotel near the airport and let them transport us and our luggage. One less hassle for me.
Plan to do less
Plan to do less than you want. That senior traveler doesn’t have your energy levels. They will need breaks and or naps. Plan those breaks into your schedule. While they rest, head to the lobby to get online, or head to the gym or for a walk.
What are their favorite things? Is there something they would really like to do or see. If they haven’t traveled much, they may have no clue. Even though we had talked about the plan, Mom was repeatedly surprised and delighted. She knew it, but all of a sudden it was REAL.
Pick a good location with a helpful hotel
Once you know have chosen places to see, locate them on a map.
Foursquare (www.foursquare.com) is great to help you find what you are looking for and map it.
Now you can locate lodging close by. Do a search for “lodging near” and insert where you want to visit. Depending on their abilities, you may want to go for a room with disabled access. Onsite food services is a bonus if you arrive back to the hotel with a tired traveler.
Even if your companion loves food, older people tend to have a few more issues. They will appreciate casual dining choices.
Mom is diabetic so I had to make sure we stayed to meals at regular intervals. While I’m not into fast food, McDonald’s salads did come to our rescue a couple of times when traveling from one destination to another.
When making your plans, it may be helpful to see what type of restaurants are en route. Smartphones make this much easier today.
Plan for Assistance
They may not be able to handle their luggage. Especially true if they walk
with a cane. If there aren’t bell persons to assist, be prepared to tote those bags. Allow extra time as you will be moving bags for two.
Take advantage of airport services. Check your bags. You won’t be able to handle both of your luggage and be able to help them.
Make sure any medications they may need are with them in their carry-on.
I didn’t want to risk Mom having to rush to catch a plane so made arrangements for wheelchairs to whisk her along. They worked great! From check-in to the gate and making transfers. I made sure she had a few dollars in her hand or pocket so she could thank them.
Be aware of what the facilities are in the places you want to visit. A couple
of historical sites had gravel paths. I’m a pretty small person. Pushing Mom in a wheelchair became a real problem. Thank goodness for a couple of nice big young men who helped me get her back to the entry. But meeting new people and finding them generally helpful and friendly is a great part of travel.
If visiting a location where there is significant walking and it is ADA compliant, consider renting them a scooter to whisk them around.
Save the memories
Take lots of pictures. They will save the memories. There are some great online services like www.shutterfly.com. You upload your photos and convert them into a memory photo book complete with comments. Makes a great present to help them remember your trip together.