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traveling with elderly

6 Helpful Tips for Traveling with Elderly Loved Ones

There are plenty of great reasons that you might want or need to be traveling with elderly loved ones. Your kids get the chance to spend time with their grandparents, as do you. It’s also good for older people to stay active and socially engaged in life.


Planning a family-friendly trip and traveling with elderly family members can be a bit more challenging, however, or at least have some additional considerations.


The following are some things to know about traveling with elderly loved ones and how you can plan ahead to make things comfortable, safe, and seamless.


traveling with elderly


Helpful Tips for Traveling with Elderly Loved Ones

Choose the Right Destination


When you’re planning a trip that will involve traveling with elderly parents or another older relative, consider whether the location will be senior-friendly.


Some of the things that can make for a destination that’s appropriate for all ages include accessibility for limited mobility, easy access to amenities, and access to medical care in case there’s an emergency.


When planning vacations for seniors, you also have to think about the time of year. For example, if you were traveling in the winter, would walkways potentially be icy or slippery?


You also have to think about the time of year. For example, if you were traveling in the winter, would walkways potentially be icy or slippery?


If you’re traveling with elderly family members in the summer, could the temperatures become too extreme?


When you’re picking a destination, you want to consider the activities you’ll do while you’re away and whether or not your loved one will be able to participate. Try to find at least some of your activities that won’t be too demanding and will be fun for everyone.


If there are going to be more intense activities that you do on your trip, think about what accommodations could be made. For example, if part of your trip will involve significant amounts of walking, could you rent an electric wheelchair or mobility scooter?


Flying or Driving?


Depending on where you’re going, driving might not be an option if you’re traveling with elderly loved ones. If it is, remember that it’s not necessarily always the best option for an older person.


Sometimes, flying can be more convenient and comfortable. If you are driving, plan on having plenty of breaks and stops along the way.


If you’re flying, some airlines offer services specifically for seniors as well as discounts. If you aren’t sure or can’t find the information, contact the airline directly.


They’ll also often have pre-boarding for older travelers and disability or wheelchair assistance getting to and from the gate.


Your loved one will have to go through security, so give yourself plenty of extra time and let the TSA official know if there are any health conditions that could impact the screening process.


Passengers 75 and older have the option to go through an expedited screening process that’s similar to TSA Precheck.


Aisle seats common have movable armrests, which are easier for some people to get in and out of. If you need a movable armrest for your relative to get from their wheelchair to their seat, let the airline know at least 48 hours in advance.


You should also let the flight attendant know if your loved one has any disabilities when you board. If you’re flying and it’s a long flight, don’t forget to bring compression socks to promote healthy blood flow.


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Clear the Trip With Doctor


When you decide you’re going to be traveling with elderly loved ones, you might want to check in with their doctor if you have any doubts as to whether or not they can safely travel.


Even if you can’t go to an actual appointment, you may be able to schedule a telehealth call. It can be a good idea any time someone has a more complex medical condition.


You also want to get their recommendations for traveling. For example, the doctor might give you the all-clear, but with some stipulations.


Before traveling with elderly loved ones, go over your relative’s medications with the doctor to make sure you have a complete list of everything they take, the dose, and when.


Get Organized With Lists


When you’re traveling with elderly loved ones it’s important to know that their daily routine can be pretty rigid, and that’s important for them.


You should get organized ahead of time with lists about their eating and sleeping schedules, their medication schedules, and anything else they need to do on a regular basis.


Before traveling with seniors you should ask yourself, “Do they need supplies like hypodermic needs or medical equipment? What about things like dentures or diabetes testing kits?”


Create checklists for yourself to make sure you have everything.


traveling with elderly


Plan for the Unexpected


There may be some hiccups along the way when you’re traveling with your older parent or loved one, so go ahead and plan for the unexpected as much as you can.


For example, take extra clothes and medications when you’re out and about.


You should take the original pills bottles for every medicine in case pills get mixed up, or there’s an emergency. Make all medications are in your carry-on bags and not your checked bags, which may be lost or delayed.


To plan for a medical emergency, you should have powers of attorney documents, doctors’ contact information, a medicine list, and if there are any major medical conditions, medical history documents.


Choosing a Hotel


When you’re traveling with elderly parents, you need to be mindful of the accommodations you choose and how well those will fit their unique needs.


Most hotels will let guests request an accessible room, and those are typically near an elevator. If you aren’t sure whether a room is accessible, call the front desk. You may also need a roll-in shower.


Try to choose a hotel that’s relatively close to the activities you’re going to do on your trip, so you aren’t walking too far. In foreign countries, there aren’t always elevators in hotels, so if you’re going outside of the U.S., this is something you’ll need to verify directly with the hotel.


Finally, try to plan your trip in a way that works for your relative’s needs in terms of scheduling. For example, many older people are at their best in the morning and early afternoon.


Then, in the later afternoon, they may become tired, disoriented, or irritable. Make time for afternoon breaks to account for this.


Final Thoughts


There’s no reason to be hindered by traveling with elderly loved ones. Traveling with seniors is a great way to see the world with new, wiser eyes. Just be sure to follow these tips so you can be ahead of the game and ensure their comfort and needs are met. And for more helpful travel tips, be sure to subscribe!

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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