Holiday travel can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Even with the promise of holiday joy on the other end, crowded airports and long car trips can make anybody feel tense and frantic. When you are traveling with an older loved one, sometimes this stress can seem even more intense. You not only have to worry about yourself and your family, but you have the needs of a senior to consider as well.
To help you avoid some of the panic of holiday travel with an aging family member, we put together some tips and tricks to keep holiday travel dread to a minimum, and to help ensure that happy holiday memories are the only thing you have on the horizon.
Keep Your Loved One Involved
If your loved one is kept in the dark about travel plans, they can become very confused about what is happening, and that can make traveling more difficult for everybody. Keep your family member involved in the planning as much as possible and keep them up to date. Things to talk about include:
When you are leaving
Where you are going
Who will be picking them up
What stops you will have along the way
How long the trip will take
Where you will be staying for overnight travel
How they will be getting back home
Plan In Advance
The earlier you plan, the better off you'll be. If you are booking a flight, see if you can find senior discounts for tickets. A nonstop flight is always best for seniors, and if that isn’t in the cards, try and find a flight with as few layovers as possible. On- and off-boarding can easily become exhausting for older people.
If your loved one has mobility issues, make sure the airports and flight attendants know ahead of time so that they can provide a better experience. For travel by car, know beforehand how to help your loved one in and out of the vehicle. Plan your route well in advance and know where there are rest areas or places to stop for food if you need to.
Be Dressed and Prepared for Travel
Have your loved one wear clothing that is loose and won’t bunch up or constrict them during travel. Clothing should be comfortable for unexpected delays or sitting down for a long time. Make sure any speciality clothing like compressions socks or other items like a neck pillow to aid comfort are worn or are available nearby.
Gum or candy for chewing can help with the change in air pressure during plane takeoffs and landings. Keeping water and snacks with you is another good way to make sure that you won’t be unprepared during a long car ride or layover.
Mobility in Mind
A loved one who struggles with mobility may need a wheelchair, walker, or cane for long walks through airports. You can call ahead to airports to see if they have some available for you, or bring one made for travel if you already have it. An aging adult may not move as fast as you, so plan extra time for slower movement.
Many seniors need to move to help with sore joints and improve circulation. If you are in the car, stop as you need to for your loved one to get out and walk around. Adding as much movement as you can during a trip can help an aging family member feel less sore afterwards and during the holiday.
Keep Medications Close
The last you want is for your loved one to need a medication and it is buried in a suitcase or in the cargo hold of the plane. Luggage can get lost or misplaced during the hectic holiday season, so keep essentials close to you. Put medications in your carry on for plane rides, or keep it next to you in a bag or purse during a car ride.
Even if you have everything planned to a tee, there are always going to things that can go wrong. Unexpected delays, car troubles, and forgotten items can all throw a wrench into carefully detailed plans. Work together with your loved one and adjust as need be. Creating a frantic atmosphere can make things more difficult, so be the calming force your loved one needs.
Traveling is a necessary pain of the holidays. When you travel with an aging loved one, there are many things to consider that can seem overwhelming. But by taking it step by step and working together, you and your loved one can forget the stress of travel and have a holiday full of good memories.