With Christmas fast approaching, families are busy making travel arrangements to see their loved ones. And today, more than ever, families are spread out across the country. Seniors may only be able to see their children and grandchildren once a year. Visiting your loved ones this holiday season may require a long road trip or flight which can become a stressful endeavour as seniors age and mobility becomes an issue. Thankfully, there are some steps your family can take to make the journey as pleasant as possible.
Assign someone to help with the travel arrangements
Booking flights online may seem overwhelming for some seniors. It is best to designate one family member to help your loved ones with the booking process as they may be wary of booking through someone they don’t know. This way they know they are in good hands and will arrive safely.
Look for non-stop flights
When making travel arrangements, non-stop flights are the best option for travelling seniors. This avoids long layovers and reduces the chance of missing a connecting flight. Although booking a non-stop flight will cost extra, it can dramatically reduce the overall travel time and make their journey more pleasurable. Avoid booking flights will smaller airlines as they may not offer the accommodations some seniors need.
Watch for seniors discounts
If you’re booking travel arrangements for your loved ones take a closer look at the so called “senior discounts” airlines offer as most of them are fake.
Double check disability options
If your loved one requires a mobility aid to travel, be sure to make the airline aware of this. For some airlines, this can be done online through the booking process but for others it requires a phone call. By making the airline aware, they can provide the necessary accommodations for a smooth transition through the airport.
Many seniors take medications daily or may be required to take them at a certain time. If they need to take them at dinner consider booking a morning flight. If this cannot be avoided, ensure their medications are in their carry on and placed underneath the seat ahead of them so it is easy to access.
Time of day
Another factor to consider is the time of the day you plan on travelling. Flights or road trips that start very early in the morning or late at night can easily wear them out and make the journey seem twice as long. Mid-day trips may be the best option as seniors have the most energy.
It is a good idea to bring an extra layer for the journey, especially if your loved one is travelling by plane as they tend to get chilly. They can easily bring it in their carry on luggage so they can access it if needed.
Travel with family
The best possible way to ensure your loved one has a safe and easy journey is to travel with them. It is amazing the difference between travelling alone and travelling with someone you know and trust. If seniors travel alone they may require assistance from airport staff especially if they are using a mobility aid or they have a connecting flight. This can be an uncomfortable feeling for some seniors who are not used to adventuring alone. Also, if there is a lengthy layover they have someone to chat with which brings a sense of comfort.
Security & boarding
Navigating through security can be overwhelming and can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. Thankfully, if you have let the airline know you are travelling with a senior using an assistive device most airlines will direct you through priority service and skip the line. If your loved one is travelling alone, most airlines allow one caregiver or companion to go through security to the gate. If they have a layover, assistance can be arranged so they are picked up and transported to their next flight.
It is a better idea for seniors to disembark last so the flight attendants can help them with their baggage and exiting the plane. Some airlines allow one family member to meet their relative at the gate, but you must arrange this at least 48 hours in advance. If you are unable to pick up your loved ones make sure there is appropriate transportation in place for them to reach their destination.