Travel Tips for a Stress-Free Multi-Generational Vacation
Summer is here. It's time to plan your next fun family vacation. You may wonder what's the best way for everyone in the family, from the kids to Grandma to have a great time, and for you as a parent and/or caregiver to get a well-deserved break.
There are many good reasons families often travel with parents on a trip with the rest of the family. Getting away from the everyday routine to spend time together strengthens bonds and creates memories that can last for a lifetime. Grandparents can help provide a break and it allows for quality time with their grandchildren. It can also be more cost-effective to travel with the entire family who can share the costs of food, accommodations and travel.
As you prepare for the time off, here are some travel tips to have an enjoyable and less stressful time:
Tips for Planning the Trip:
When thinking about where to go, try to include everyone in the discussion to the extent possible. Keep in mind considerations for any physical or mental health concerns aging parents may have. If your parent is affected by Alzheimer's or dementia, try to stick to more familiar territory if you can.
Whether it's a quiet time in Maine or the hustle and bustle of Disney World, don't assume you already know Mom's preference and decide for her. Your loved one may have some ideas about where to go or may decide that he or she would rather stay home.
That said, try not to over-prioritize your parent's desires. If this is a multi-generational family time off, then all family members' interests deserve consideration.
Tips to Find a Senior-Friendly & Kid-Friendly Vacation Spot:
The key is to pick a place that is accessible for seniors and has interesting activities for all ages in the family. If you decide to fly, check out these airlines that offer senior discounts.
- A cruise is a great idea for all ages. Older adults are a large audience for cruises and are well catered to. There is all kinds of entertainment on board and planned excursions on land that are senior-friendly and kid-friendly as well.
- An all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean will have meals and activities taken care of, which could mean less work. If you decide to stay at a hotel, here's a guide to booking hotels for wheelchair users. This will help you decide if the hotel can meet any mobility needs that Mom or Dad may have such as wheelchair ramps, roll-in showers and grab bars in the bathroom.
- National parks could be a lot of fun for the entire family. If one of the family members cannot handle the walk, then a guided tour in a vehicle is usually available, so they don't miss out.
Tips for Travel Day:
- If the family is flying to a destination, plan for airport security screening. The TSA screening for passengers 75 and older makes it easier for these passengers to get through screening with less discomfort. Your older loved one may not have to take off his or her shoes. If Mom is unable to stand for long, there is a quicker process available.
- Call ahead to request an escort and wheelchair if needed. It's often a long walk to the gates.
- Put all important items such as medications in your carry-on luggage on the plane or ship or packed inside the car rather than the trunk for easy reach.
Tips to Make Sure Everyone Has a Good Time:
- Divide up the caregiving duties with other family members ahead of time so you get some time to relax and everyone is on the same page about expectations for caregiving. Often grandparents welcome the opportunity for one-on-time with grandchildren.
- Consider activities that will suite everyone of all ages. Lighter activity may be less taxing for older adults and easier for kiddos too.
- Keep a routine and build in time for rest. Everyone can benefit from a mid-day nap or quite time to recharge and make sure days don't become too hectic.
- Take along personal items that your loved one is familiar with, like a favorite pillow, blanket or anything that gives comfort.
- If traveling with a parent who is affected by Alzheimer or dementia, you can find safety travel tips from the Alzheimer's Association.
Wherever you decide to travel this summer, we wish you and your family a safe and fun-filled vacation with plenty of cherished memories. After all, it's about making memories that will last a lifetime.