In this two-part series, I will offer advice for caregivers
traveling with and away from aging relatives.
Part 1: Traveling With Aging Parents
As many of us are taking our annual summer vacations, some of you may be realizing that your travel planning will be a bit more complex this year.
Across the country, adults are sandwiched between their aging Baby Boomer parents and their own young children, providing support to two generations with unique needs. A vacation can offer a welcome and well-deserved respite from the exhausting daily life of a Sandwich Generation caregiver. The problem is, you can’t always put all your duties on hold. So when the beach is calling, you have to decide whether your aging parents will be coming with you, or staying home.
If you choose to bring your parent along, it could end up being a fantastic experience ripe with memories and cherished moments together. You’ll still be a caregiver, but you’ll be able to enjoy time away from normal life in a new area—together.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re traveling with aging parents or other elderly loved ones on your summer vacation.
Carefully Consider the Destination and Length of the Trip
If a parent is coming along, it may not be the best year for that Patagonia hiking trip you’ve been dreaming of.
As with anything, be sure to include your loved ones in the planning process, and be honest about what you’re looking for in your vacation. Try to figure out what they would enjoy, and then find a destination that meets the needs of everyone involved. You will also want to think carefully about how long you’ll be away from home. While a two-week stay in Europe sounds great to you, it may sound exhausting to your folks.
Don’t forget to ask for senior discounts, too! Organizations such as AARP and AAA may also have deals worth looking into.
Consider Alternate Modes of Transportation
Most of us will default to air travel when planning a long trip. However, it may actually be easier and/or safer for an elderly or handicapped loved one to travel in a train compartment, on a bus or cruise ship, or even in the car for a good old-fashioned family road trip.
Discuss this with your family to decide what makes the most sense for your situation. If flying is the only option, consider bumping your loved one up to a first-class ticket so they’re more comfortable (if your budget allows for it).
Make a Packing List
As a seasoned traveler, you likely already know what you need—but this time you have to plan for your parent’s needs, too.
Plan your loved one’s packing list early, and triple-check that the most important items—such as medications, first aid kit, passport, and emergency contact information—are accessible and secure.
If you need a template to get started, the Traveling with Aging Parents blog has a great checklist you can download or print out.
Plan for Breaks
When you’re deciding on how to spend your time each day, remember that it will be hard for your older companion to be active from morning till night. If you’re doing a great activity in the morning and another in the afternoon, for example, be sure to allow appropriate rest time between the two.
Watch the Weather
As in any travel situation, weather can make or break the experience. When you’re traveling with someone who has additional needs, bad weather can be especially hard to deal with. So check the forecast and plan accordingly.
Schedule Alone Time
Make sure that you, the caregiver, have time to relax. It’s your vacation, after all! Consider splitting up your caregiver duties with other travel companions, and block out some alone time.
Don’t Forget a Camera
This vacation could turn into one of your favorite memories with the family. You don’t want to spend the entire trip behind the camera, but a few group shots will help you recall the experience years into the future. So gather the whole crew, smile wide, and capture the moment!