How do You successfully Travel during the Holidays with Seniors?
The holidays can be both a magical time and downright stressful. Many families travel across states to visit long-distance loved ones. If you are planning on taking a trip during the holidays, start making a list and plan ahead. Asking friends or family if they have tips or tricks during the holidays can be helpful; however, we researched and compiled a list of Holiday Tips for Traveling with Seniors to take one more to-do off your holiday list this season. These tips will help prepare you and your senior loved one to have the peace of mind to enjoy the time spent with loved ones.
- Schedule a check up
- Research travel and gift costs
- Ship gifts early
- Create a list and pack early
- Prep house
- Driving long distance
Schedule a check up
One very important tip before traveling during the holidays with seniors, it will never hurt to schedule a quick check up to make sure prescriptions or health information is covered prior to beginning a trip. The primary doctor will make any suggestions to help ease any potential , clear your loved one to make sure they are healthy enough to travel and to create a plan for the trip if needed. Create a medication log or set a watch for medication reminders as it can become very easy to lose track of days and times when on a holiday vacation. Make sure medication is stored in a safe container and that enough will be available for the duration of the trip with a few days extra if unintentionally delayed during the trip.
Research travel and gift costs
The best time to purchase airline tickets is a few months ahead of the holidays. It would be best to begin researching in September/October for Thanksgiving or Christmas travels.
If you are traveling by car, research routes to make stops accordingly for bathroom breaks or meal stops. Remember holiday traffic can be terrible if traveling through a big city so prepare for more traffic than usual driving into larger cities and afford extra time for traveling home.
Creating a budget for both travel expenses and gifts helps to find deals to save some money and to think creatively. If you are traveling more than a day and need a hotel, there are many options such as Priceline.com, Hotels.com or Expedia.com to review and book accommodations easily. Remember to save confirmation number so it will be easy to locate when checking in. These booking sites provide airline and car rentals as well that can be easily bundled, which can be an extra savings if needed.
If you are traveling by plane or car, then you are aware of the limited amount of space traveling long distance. Airlines will charge for additional suitcases that most fill with extra presents. Purchasing gifts online and opting to gift wrap can save you additional time, energy and space during the trip.
Create a List and Pack Early
Talk to family ahead of time to determine plans during the visit. Check the weather and make a list of all items needed in categories and number of items. Pull items together with smaller items placed into ziplock bags. You can remove air out of bags to help maximize space in luggage. Having a few extra bags packed helps to keep clean and dirty laundry separate and protects clothes from liquids that could potentially break and spill on clothes from toiletries.
If you are flying, make sure you are carrying only appropriate items that are approved by TSA in a carry-on and stored luggage. Carry an extra set of clothes in a carry-on and always keep medications with you in case stowed luggage is lost.
During the winter, there is a risk of weather damage inside and outside the home. A very important tip to remember during the holidays if you are traveling as a senior is to prep your home. Pipes could freeze, appliances could start a fire or snow/ice can create slippery surfaces. Keeping the heat on no lower than 55 degrees can still keep the house warm enough to prevent pipes from freezing over. Some people like to turn down the thermostat to save on energy costs since no one will be home but do not turn off power to the house. Leave plants with friends to be watered or leave it slightly warmer if they need some heat higher than 55 degrees. Check appliances and unplug, this helps to save on energy as even though they aren’t turned on appliances can still pull a small amount of power. These can accidentally spark and start a fire so unplugging appliances helps to create peace of mind that the house will be fine while you are traveling. As you checked the weather at your destination, check local weather over the time period you will be away. If snow or sleet is a possibility, add salt to your driveway and sidewalk to prevent either icing over. This can help provide some safety that you won’t slip or fall upon your return.
Driving Long Distances
Another tip for Traveling with Seniors during the holidays is tough as there will ALWAYS be crowds and traffic. Plan a trip early to find the best routes. Use GPS and have a map as a backup plan. If you are driving through snow, plan extra time, make sure tires are in good condition and fluids are topped off before a long distance trip. Avoid driving at night as weather conditions and nighttime driving can be a greater hazard with visibility reduced.
Break up long distance travel if possible to take breaks to walk around or to stay at a hotel overnight to sleep. It does not hurt to have an emergency kit with a back up prepaid phone, warm blankets, flares, and some snacks available in the off chance that you get stuck on the side of the road and can’t call anyone or roadside assistance is unable to get you quickly.
Determine who is driving and for how long during the trip. For seniors, driving can be difficult on the back and circulation so plan to stop every few hours to take a break. Have younger drivers take the majority of the shift, if they have a good driving record, as they usually have more energy to push through a long drive.
This holiday season if you are unable to drive due to health reasons and want to take a long distance transport, Med Transport Center has options for transports over 300+ miles to help provide non-emergency state to state medical transport for your senior loved one, including options to take a pet and family member during the trip.