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Taking Elderly Parents on Vacation

Taking Elderly Parents on Vacation

Although they may be reaching their golden years, your parents still deserve to experience the fun of a wonderful vacation.  No matter the purpose of their trip, from seeing family members (grandchildren in particular), to visiting an exotic destination they haven’t been to yet, to revisiting a place they once called home, your parents are likely to need some guidance as they turn their travel dreams into reality.  The following tips can help ensure you all get the most out of the process:

Research

Research

After you have agreed on travel dates and a destination, you can start to plan and make reservations.  Look into multiple travel options for the quickest travel times and routes, and see what types of special services and benefits they each provide.  Senior discount rates are sadly few and far between these days, although Amtrak and Southwest Airlines still offer them.    

Request Special Services

Reserve seats in rows set aside for disabled travelers, and ask for free wheelchair service for your parent(s) at every airport you will be going through.  Be sure they will have help starting at the check-in counter, through security, to the gate and as they board the aircraft.  When making any special requests, it is essential you do so when you book your reservation, as travel companies are not obligated to offer them to you when check in.  

Prepare Documents

Prepare Documents

If your destination is international, be sure you and your parent(s) have a government issued passport far ahead of your departure date.  Make copies (at least three sets) of their driver’s license, passport, insurance and Medicare cards, itinerary, travel tickets and boarding pass.  Put one copy in their carry-on bag, one in checked luggage, and leave one at home.  

Pack Smarter

If you can, pack whatever they will require for the trip in a carry-on suitcase plus their personal item (backpack or tote).  Place all prescription and over-the-counter medications in a ziplock bag and include copies of their prescriptions and/or statements about any medical conditions from their physician and/or medical treatment center.  If they are bringing gifts along, make sure they are unwrapped so you don’t have trouble when going through security.

Plan for Safety and Comfort

Plan for Safety and Comfort

In order to help protect your parent(s) from thieves who prey on the elderly, it is necessary to arm them with the right tools.  There are many products on the market that will help protect their money and documents better than a traditional wallet or purse including the Passage Wallet (which hangs by a neck cord under clothing), money belts and hidden wallets that can be secured and worn inside of pants.  Give them a more comfortable trip by bringing them a travel pillow and blanket.  

Be Ready for Security

If your parent(s) has a medical condition that could set off alarms, including surgical knee or hip implants, be ready to inform the TSA about it and take a physician’s statement about the implanted steel to expedite the security process.  Elderly travelers are often asked to step aside for a wand screening so they can avoid a trip through the traditional sensors.  If your parent(s) happens to be in a wheelchair, he or she can remain seated for screening, and they may get to skip long security lines as a result.  Have your parent(s) wear comfortable shoes that can be taken off easily when passing through security.  

Your elderly parent(s) is sure to be grateful for your assistance in making this trip special for them, and it will no doubt be incredibly rewarding for you too!