5 Tips for Travelling with an Elderly Relative

Seeing someplace new is one of the most beautiful experiences you can share with a loved one. Whether you’re going on a beach holiday, a city break, or just visiting family overseas, it’s bound to be a great time to bond. Nonetheless, there are things you should take into consideration before setting off on a journey with an elderly relative. 

Unlike with people in their early 20s, older individuals should always look for comfort and safety when going on a trip. This doesn’t mean less fun. But, it does require thorough research. Regardless of their health status or special needs, with the right preparation, anyone can have a real adventure, without having to worry about possible setbacks.

So, if you’re thinking about going on a trip with an elderly relative, here are some tips on what you can do to make it a great experience. 

1. There’s no such thing as too much preparation

While this should go without saying, you must research your destination. Not just in terms of sights, but more importantly, think about all the needs that may arise during your trip.

Look into the accommodation facilities and request an easily accessible room ahead of time. If you have any dietary restrictions, notify the hotel staff when booking, so that they will be ready to provide you with everything you need once you’re there. If there’s anything you need that might not be a part of your hotel’s standard offer, ask for it. This way, they’ll have enough time to prepare, and you won’t run into any unpleasant surprises on the spot.

Furthermore, do the same for your transportation. If possible, book the fastest transport mode, keeping layovers to a minimum. However, if you’ve got a really long journey ahead, consider giving yourself enough time at an airport hotel for a shower and a good night’s sleep.

Lastly, remember that most airports offer wheelchair service free of charge, but it’s best to reserve it in advance.

2. Prioritize health and safety

The excitement over an upcoming holiday may get your relative eager to assure you they’re perfectly healthy. Nonetheless, it’s not a bad idea to schedule a doctor’s appointment before heading out.

A routine check will confirm that your companion’s health is in good condition and will draw attention to any signs of illness you need to be aware of. On the whole, a physician will tell you what symptoms you should look out for, and may even give you some good advice on what you can do in case your relative starts to feel unwell. Furthermore, they should prescribe medication refills so that you can stock up before setting off.

Another thing to do that will put your mind at ease, is to purchase a travel insurance policy. This way, you’ll be covered in case of an emergency, whether due to a health issue or in case of cancellations or delays.

Last but not least, always have your travel and medical documentation on hand. Create physical and digital copies that you can easily access, and store the originals in a way that will prevent theft or loss.

3. Plan for rest in your itinerary

Once you’ve safely arrived at your destination, it’s time to go out and enjoy yourselves. However, keep in mind that too much fun can take its toll on the body and spirit.

When preparing your itinerary, consider how much walking you can do at a comfortable pace. Most older individuals will tire after about 45 to 90 minutes of physical activity, so either plan for rest or bring along a portable mode of transportation. Mobility scooters are particularly handy as they’re considerably lighter than other options and work well on all types of surfaces.

Furthermore, don’t forget to check Google Maps or Trip Advisor for amenities at your main points of interest. Pay particular attention to restrooms (which you’ll often have to pay to use) and drinking water fountains. Even if you’re adventurous, don’t put off meals, always have a couple of healthy snacks on hand, and, of course, hydrate.

4. Don’t pack too much

Most of us tend to pack a bit too much when travelling, only to end up using just a third of the things we squeezed into our suitcase. But, when travelling with an elderly relative, keep in mind that a heavy suitcase isn’t just a nuisance – it could also be an injury hazard.

If you don’t already own luggage, purchase something ultra-lightweight with spinner wheels, as this will make it much easier to get through airports. Furthermore, always bring a carry-on in addition to your checked bag, as this is where you’ll want to keep your medication and valuables.

Moreover, try to pack as lightly as possible. Prioritize comfort when it comes to clothing, and bring supportive, cushioned, and weather-appropriate shoes. Of course, don’t forget to always pack sunblock and a lightweight rain jacket so that you’re good to go, no matter the weather.

5. Join a guided tour (or plan like a pro)

While you may prefer to explore a new place on your own, having an experienced tour guide could really make your life easier. Especially when travelling with someone who requires extra care. This is why it’s not a bad idea to join a guided tour, or book your vacation through a certified travel agency. Not only will they take over planning, but they’re often savvy when it comes to saving time and money, especially at popular tourist destinations.

Of course, if you prefer the DIY method, you’ll find that a good guidebook and some online research will take you far. For example, always check to see if you can book tickets to museums and sights online to cut queuing down to a minimum. And, of course, try to learn a few phrases in the local language so you have an easier time communicating.

Most importantly: enjoy yourself

In the end, remember that a vacation is something you’re meant to enjoy. Yes, travelling with an elderly relative takes a bit more preparation, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to spend all your time worrying. In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to see the world at a more relaxed pace.