Aging With Care: Traveling tips for seniors

Aging With Care: Traveling tips for seniors

Aging With Care: Traveling tips for seniors

It’s springtime. Are you thinking about taking a trip? That’s easy, right? Just throw things in a travel bag, hop in the car and go? Or, maybe make airline and lodging reservations and pack up and head to the airport?

In our younger days, we never thought twice about heading out on an adventure. As we age, we now think twice, or maybe even three times, before committing to trips away from home. We find comfort and safety at home; we experience uncertainty while traveling.

I believe it’s important to maintain our freedom to enjoy the world, so as we age, how do we retain a sense of comfort and safety while traveling?

Car travel tactics

Before starting out, think about the logistics. You’ll want to have a good time and not be overburdened.

For a road trip, have you considered caravanning with a few friends to wine country in eastern Washington?

One couple or individual should take the lead – plan the route, schedule the points of interest, designate stopping points, and place holds on a bank of rooms for overnight lodging.

Before heading out, share the itinerary, cell phone numbers and prearranged stopping points where you regroup. To accommodate aging: Schedule several stops for restrooms and opportunities to stretch.

A good leader who’s done his homework will enable others to tag along; they won’t have to sweat the details.

Keep the caravan to a max of three or four cars; otherwise, you’ll find it tough to stay together in heavy traffic. If you get separated, don’t panic. That’s why you have prearranged stopping points and a list of cell phones.

If you like this idea, meet for a one-day outing and a scenic drive to lunch before going on an overnighter. This way everyone can become familiar with the logistics of traveling in caravan. There’s a learning curve; use patience.

Two tips: Everyone should agree to travel at the speed limit when conditions allow. To discourage interlopers, keep caravan cars closely bunched.

The camaraderie and enthusiasm of a group makes travel easier and fun.

Traveling with your own car has advantages. After arriving at your overnight destination, it might be fun to have dinner together, but you also have the freedom to go your own way. The next morning, breakfast can be an individual activity. After breakfast, gather at an agreed-upon location and time for the next day’s activities or the return trip home. Having your own car makes it easier to accommodate the personal routines of others.

Air travel tactics

I find major airports intimidating. I can only imagine how eighty-year-olds feel.

Suitcases need to be lugged from parking areas to airline checked-ins. At your destination, luggage must be collected again and transported to shuttles, cabs, or cars. It’s great if family or friends can help.

For aging air travelers, a companion is a must.

If you don’t have a ready companion, here are some ideas. As enticement, offer to pay the fare of a family member or younger friend. Alternatively, you can hire a travel companion from a reputable eldercare company. If this enables you to travel when otherwise you wouldn’t, then the added expense is worth it.

Abled-bodied companions can prevent people from jostling you in airports crowds. They can also assist with security checks and stowing your carry-ons.

If you are unsteady, I suggest walking with a cane. The cane is a visual que to others to be careful and courteous. If a long airport walk is too much, arrange for an escorted wheelchair. Select this option when printing your boarding pass from home.

Elders needing assistance are asked to board planes first. So, go for it! Don’t be shy or embarrassed. This is a privilege afforded the aging. Boarding early allows you to stow your carry-ons and get into your seat before the masses pile on board.

Here’s a suggestion: If the journey is strictly for fun, choose a destination with a small airport; they’re less crowded and have shorter distances to walk.

Here’s another thought: Instead of a staying at a hotel, consider renting a private residence through a service like Airbnb. That way you’ll have room to stretch out. It will be quieter; you can sleep late and fix a leisurely breakfast in the morning.

Happy travels.

MARLA BECK is the founder and president of Andelcare Inc., which provides in-home eldercare. Submit questions by calling 206-838-1844 or via e-mail to