Sunday evening was the start of our long-awaited family trip to Central Florida. I visited the Disney Boardwalk last year with my nieces, nephews, their parents and extended God family, but this time we decided to bring more people and do more activities. It also is the first time traveling alone with my father. While he has traveled post 9/11, he hasn’t done air travel in almost 10 years because of physical and medical conditions. As nervous as I was, I survived! Below are some travel tips on traveling with an elderly parent. While this is specific to air travel, some tips can be applied to other methods of transportation with senior travelers.
Book Your Flight Early
We planned for this trip back in February with the intention that my parents would be traveling from their home state, but in the past few weeks, there were many plan changes. Fortunately, I was able to get my father on the same departing flight as me. In general, the earlier you book your flight, the better chances you have of choosing your seat. It is best to get an aisle seat or somewhere towards the front when you travel with a senior because it’s easier for them to get in and out of the aircraft. We had a full flight, but I was able to get him in a seat next to me. Despite not being able to upgrade, were the first to board the plane. I made the decision to get off last so we wouldn’t have to deal with the rush of people attempting to leave and he can take his time walking off.
Check for Discounts
If you’re traveling by air, road, track or sea, check for a senior discount. You can save a good percentage off your total trip cost. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get one because my father hasn’t reached 65 which is Delta Airlines’ senior discount requirement. If the airline offers senior discounts, make sure to call to book your flight.
Take advantage of Wheelchairs
You never know when there may be a last minute gate change for your flight. My father has mobility issues and walking around the airport in general, is a workout so we opted for a wheelchair. Using a wheelchair (if it’s your own or from the airline), may be your best bet for getting around the airport. Wheelchairs also expedites your walk through the airport security checkpoint and gives you priority boarding.
Pack Prescriptions in your Carry-on
I’m personally “team carry-on“, but traveling with others is sometimes a different story. I recommend packing all medications in your carry-on luggage. If syringes are used for diabetic purposes, please have some kind of documentation showing it is needed. I personally was worried this would be a problem going through security, but thankfully there were no issues. Even if you lose your luggage full of clothes, you have those prescription medications. Granted, there are ways to get a refill, but why would you want to deal with that headache while on vacation?
Travel with Them
There was a great debate on whether we should have my father travel by himself and using air travel assistance for the elderly in the event I couldn’t get him on the same flight as me. Some seniors have great pride and say they’re fine to travel by themselves, but only let them do this if you’re 100% certain they’ll be fine.
Let’s face it, traveling with a senior that has a physical, medical condition, or both, it’s just as hard for them too. Try your best not to get frustrated and be as patient as you can. The last thing anyone wants is to feel that they’re being a burden.
What are some other tips for traveling with a senior?