How to Travel with Your Grandparents

Charlotte Miller

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4 Tips to Ensure Your Upcoming Trip Goes Off Without a Hitch

Traveling with elderly family members is a rewarding experience that creates cherished memories. Even in their golden years, grandparents have plenty of new experiences ahead of them, and there’s no better way to enjoy them than with family.

However, people in different age demographics travel in different ways. Whereas a person in their twenties or thirties may feel comfortable “winging it” in certain respects, seniors tend to travel with a more cautionary approach.  

Vacationing with your grandparents also comes with unique challenges and considerations to ensure their comfort, safety, and well-being. In this blog, we’ll explore four best practices for traveling with the elderly to make your journey as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

#1 – Choose a Destination You Both Can Enjoy

Take a moment to think about what your grandparents love about life. Do they have a taste for adventure or prefer to indulge in peace and quiet? Are they music lovers? History buffs? Aspiring foodies?

The answers to these questions will provide insight on potential vacation destinations. When selecting your destination, be sure to consider:

  • Climate and seasonality
  • Activities and sightseeing
  • Local transportation
  • Dietary preferences
  • Travel budget

Remember, you can always ask if there’s a specific place they’ve always wanted to visit. Some grandparents have a certain location they’ve been meaning to knock off their bucket list.

#2 – Thoroughly Plan Your Travel and Lodging

Rushing to make a connecting flight through an unfamiliar airport is never fun, especially for seniors. After you choose your destination, the next step is to plan how you and your grandparents will get from point A to point B.

When booking flights, consider:

  • Time and date of flights.
  • First class, business class, or coach seating.
  • Flights that require manual check-in versus automatic check-in.
  • Direct flights versus flights with a connection.
  • Transportation to and from the airport.
  • Special considerations, such as wheelchair accessibility.
  • Hotel location and senior-friendly amenities.
  • Required documents, such as an international passport.

Convenience and comfort typically come at a premium. A redeye flight on a discount airline is likely the cheapest option, but your grandparents probably don’t want to arrive in a strange city in the middle of the night. Cheap motels in a bad part of town are another no-no.

Don’t be afraid to pony up a little extra cash for the sake of comfort and convenience. If you are traveling to Texas, for example, there are plenty of direct flights to the Lone Star State’s major cities throughout the day. Additionally, a selection of Austin hotels are renowned for their senior-friendly layout and amenities, while delivering tons of hyper-local aesthetic appeal.

#3 – Pack With a Plan

This trip is not your grandparents’ first rodeo. They likely know what they need to pack, but some may need a little guidance. To help steer them in the right direction, confirm your grandparents have:

  • Packed enough clothes for the trip without going overboard.
  • Included all essential prescription medications.
  • Travel-size toiletries that adhere to current TSA regulations.
  • Luggage that meets size and weight regulations as set out by your airline.
  • Luggage tags with current contact information.
  • All essential items in their carry-on, such as medications, eyeglasses, and wallets.
  • Any mobility aids to be used during travel.

Ideally, you want to travel with as little luggage as possible for the sake of mobility. Getting in and out of the airport with eight pieces of luggage will have you moving at a snail’s pace, so pack with a purpose.

You should also pack with worst-case scenarios in mind. Plant an Apple Tag (or similar product) in each piece of luggage. If a suitcase goes missing, you will be able to track it using your smartphone.

#4 – Be Mindful of Your Grandparents Needs and Limitations

When vacationing with seniors, it’s important to keep in mind that they don’t have the endurance of someone two generations their junior. Going without food, water, or rest for too long may result in them feeling light-headed or unable to walk, so it’s important to take their needs into consideration.

When planning your trip and travel around the city, make sure to:

  • Plan for rest breaks.
  • Have snacks and water readily available, including in the hotel room.
  • Stick to a regular meal schedule, and choose restaurants that accommodate special dietary needs, such as diabetes-friendly or heart-healthy entrees.
  • Know about any relevant medical conditions.
  • Adhere to your grandparents’ medication schedule.
  • Be mindful of any physical limitations.
  • Know the location of the nearest hospital or urgent care.
  • Have your grandparent’s emergency contacts on-hand.

Remember, you can always ask your grandparents if they have any special needs you can help with. That takes the guesswork out of it and demonstrates to them that their comfort and safety are priorities.

Go Create Some Lasting Memories

Traveling with your grandparents means doing a little extra planning and thinking ahead. However, don’t get so caught up in worrying about the “what ifs” that you forget to have a good time. If you’ve thought everything through and follow these simple travel best practices, the rest of the trip should take care of itself. Both you and your grandparents will find that the thrill of exploring new locales is a timeless experience that transcends generations.