Traveling is one of the greatest joys for the elderly, especially for family visits. Trips could be for the holidays or an adventure to a vacation destination. Many seniors are independent and can go alone, and others may require company. Either way there are certain steps you can take to make the trip easier.
Making arrangements months ahead of time is a wise choice. Once you have a destination in mind, research airlines, target dates, ground transportation and other logistics. For air and ground transportation, try and find the shortest travel times.
If you can,search for no-cost frequent flyer programs. This gives you access to deals on fares and other benefits. Senior discount fares used to be commonplace but not anymore. Only Southwest Airlines and Amtrak still offer senior discounts.
Request Special Services
Seniors can receive special services. This includes seats designated for travelers with mobility issues. Perhaps most importantly, senior citizens can get free wheelchair service at any airport in the United States. Be sure to ask the airline about meals if you have any special dietary concerns.
If your elderly loved one or friend will be traveling alone, make sure that they receive assistance from human staff. If you don’t request and confirm these services, you can’t be sure that the airline or transportation service will provide assistance.
Government passports are still the most reliable form of identification accepted by TSA security. If the person traveling doesn’t have a passport, think about applying for one several months before travel time. You can do this the post office. Make an appointment and go online to print out forms and find out what you need for the application. Two copies of an official photograph must be sent in with an application.
Other documents you want to have include:
· Copies of prescriptions and statements from health care providers
· At least 4 copies of the passport, driver’s license or state ID, medical insurance cards, travel tickets and itinerary and boarding passes.
· Telephone calling cards so that he or she can keep contact with you. You can also provide a cell phone with your number programed in a convenient place for emergencies.
Keep the 4 copies of all documents in a carry-on bag, one in their luggage, forward one to the destination and leave one at home.
Be Practical When Packing
Pack light. For airport travel, try and fit all the necessities in luggage that can be carried onto the plane. Use a rolling suitcase and a carry-on bag for this. Don’t check these bags. The in-flight staff will happily store the rolling suitcase in the overhead compartment on the plane.
All medications should be placed in a single zip-lock freezer bag. Include copies of the prescriptions in the bag. Keep these in the carry-on bag.
Consider Safety, Comfort and Security
It’s important to think about safety. There are unscrupulous people everywhere that will try to take advantage of travelers. This is especially true in airports. Proper preparation can thwart these thieves from stealing from your elderly friend or loved one.
Wallets and purses are easy for thieves to target. Women should not carry purses and men should not carry their wallets in their back pockets. Instead use a money belt worn under cloths or a passage wallet that can be worn around the neck.
For comfort you can buy a c-shaped travel pillow that supports the neck and head. This makes resting on a plane much more comfortable.
Make Sure There is Someone Waiting at the Destination
If your loved one is traveling alone, arrange for someone to meet them at their destination. Make sure it’s someone you trust and provide them with information on how to assist your elderly friend or relative. Most importantly, advise them about any dietary, health or medication regimens that need to be followed.
If you can, travel with your elderly relative or loved one. You may find it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. You will be responsible to give care, but you will also be able to enjoy a new setting and environment. Travel safeand be well.