When you were younger, vacationing with the parents meant that they took care of everything for you. But once you reach middle-age, the dynamic has switched and your parents might need a little more help from you. Traveling with seniors comes with a few additional concerns that might not come up with other age groups, so it’s important to be prepared when planning for this new kind of family vacation.
1. Healthcare Considerations
Ideally, all travelers should see a doctor before embarking on a long trip, but for seniors this is absolutely crucial. Ask your parents’ physician if the destination is suited for their current health status and limitations. Will they need to have certain vaccinations done? Do they have an adequate supply of their usual medications? In some cases, it might also be necessary to see a psychiatrist before the trip as well to see if anxiety medication is necessary for the trip. It would also be wise for your parents to purchase a travel medical insurance policy for seniors; this guarantees they’ll have medical coverage while traveling and gives the whole family peace of mind.
2. Don’t Overdo It
Even though you might be more of an adventurous type, you can’t expect your elderly parents to keep up with you on a backpacking trip through Europe or an all-day walking extravaganza through a theme park. Plan your whole itinerary before you go and be sure to pencil in plenty of time for rest. You want your parents to enjoy the vacation, not to come home feeling more exhausted than they did when they left.
3. Take Advantage of Senior Perks
From senior discounts to up-front parking spaces for disabled citizens, seniors can take advantage of several perks to make the vacation easier. Many tourist destinations like museums, aquariums and even some restaurants will extend similar privileges to senior citizens as well, so make sure to ask!
4. Try to Maintain a Routine
Elderly people can often get uncomfortable and anxious when they experience major, abrupt changes to their daily routines. Obviously, it will be difficult to mimic your parents’ routine exactly, but you should try to stick to it as closely as possible. For example, schedule mealtimes, bedtimes and medication schedules at roughly the same times as at home to prevent confusion and create a sense of stability in an unfamiliar place.
5. Find Activities for Everyone
When traveling with family members of different generations, it can be tough to find activities everyone will enjoy. Accept that there will likely be times when compromise is necessary, and do some research beforehand to find entertainment options to please all the travelers in your party, Whether that involves visiting a family-friendly museum, seeing a show or just spending an afternoon in a park, your parents will appreciate that you took them and their interests into account when planning the trip.
Vacations are about togetherness and growing closer as a family. On your end, make sure you always let your parents know exactly what you’ll be doing each day and encourage their input in the day’s itinerary to make them feel involved. And above all, don’t forget to enjoy your vacation. Even though you might have to adjust your plans a bit to accommodate your parents, you’ll find that you have a lot more freedom than you think.