The idea of going on a trip with elderly parents may seem overwhelming for a caregiver. But with proper planning and research, planning an enjoyable and stress-free vacation can be possible.
For those considering the travel options with aging mom and dad, here are four questions to ask before booking a trip:
What is the best destination?
There are some destinations and ways to travel that may be easier for elderly parents who may require a more relaxed itinerary with less hassle.
For example, there are many cruise lines that cater to more mature adults. Cruise Critic offers a list of top cruises for seniors. River cruising is an increasingly popular option, since there are many appealing qualities to smaller ships that avoid ocean seas: less probability of motion sickness, larger rooms, less walking due to ship’s size and extra services. Viking Cruises is one cruise line to consider. The luxury cruise line is also idea for those with food restrictions. The chefs may accommodate special diets such as vegetarian, low-salt, diabetic or low-cholesterol meals.
There are also tour operators that design specific trips with seniors in mind. Smarter Travel has a list of some top tours that offer a great value and itineraries that enable travelers to explore destinations and also have plenty of downtime.
For those with significant medical concerns, some families may also consider bringing along a nurse or wellness professional along for the trip. There are some companies like Assisted Vacation that was recently highlighted by AARP as a good resource for those interested in this type of service.
What hotel is best for my parents?
Travel with elderly parents may require some extra attention when it comes to booking the right hotel accommodations. Create a list of “must haves” when comparing hotel options. Many hotels will allow guests to request a room near an elevator or help facilitate wheelchair rentals. Also, look at the proximity to sightseeing destinations, restaurants and attractions so parents don’t have to walk too far. Another tip? Ensure air-conditioning is available, if traveling during warmer months.
What airline should I book?
Some airlines offer many senior-friendly services and even airfare discounts. Visit airline websites ahead of time to learn whether they offer pre-boarding and either wheelchair or disability assistance getting to-and-from the gate.
For the flight, consider packing some earplugs, a neck pillow and blanket, and compression socks to help with blood circulation during a long flight. Check websites like TravelSmith to shop for these types of travel accessories.
What else should I pack?
Help mom and dad create a checklist ahead of time of important items they may need for a trip (including medications). Review weather conditions to ensure clothing is appropriate. An extra pair of walking sneakers is also advisable.
What travel insurance is right for our family?
Caregivers will likely want to protect their trip investment and seek proper travel insurance that provides emergency medical care for their aging parents. For those with Medicare, this is particularly important, since the insurance does not cover any hospital or doctor visits while out of the country. To find the right coverage, contact a licensed travel insurance agent at InsureMyTrip well in advance of departure.