Children are exuberant and fearless and as such can be a handful during long-distance travelling.
Similarly can travelling be with an elderly person, be that a parent or grandparent. It will present some challenges which, if not planned for or preconsidered, can make for an unpleasant journey.
It is important though to always remember that the time parents and grandparents spend with their children and grandchildren, is and can be a priceless experience for everyone.
Lee Hunt said, “Travelling in the company of those we love is home in motion.”
To enhance your travel with an elderly parent or grandparent, always consider the following:
• Slow down. Take rest stops more often and don’t rush them. If you travel by car, keep to the speed limits and don’t take unnecessary chances that will cause distress with the elder in the vehicle.
• Remember to allow more time for packing and even having to turn back for something the elderly person forgot. If you are inflexible with the latter, it may well ruin the travel experience and even the relationship.
• Ensure that all the required medicine has been packed and is readily available should it be required. It is a good idea to also have copies of prescriptions available should an emergency present itself.
• Explain the route that will be taken and what could be expected on arrival or along the route. Remember the elderly are not comfortable with all “surprises” and not knowing that which they would to know, can cause anxiety.
• Suggest to them to wear comfortable clothing, but also to keep something warm available should there be an unexpected change in the weather.
• If you visit places of interest that offer pensioner or elderly discounts, ask for it because it is not always volunteered.
• During rest stops or when stopping at places of interest, ensure that the elderly person does not have an expensive camera or binoculars around their neck. It will most certainly make them a target for opportunistic criminals.
• Have entertainment available that will be of interest to them and which they can share with others/children in the travelling party.
• Routine for the elderly is often as important as it is for small children. So plan travel time and entertainment so as to not disrupt their regular rest periods or even their time for regular exercise.
• Be mindful not to introduce or insist on the elderly person eating anything they are not familiar with or don’t like or to have meals at times that do not synchronise with their regular meal times.
• Stubbornness, although considered a trait when one is young, should be replaced with flexibility so be prepared because elderly people can be quite stubborn at times and these situations should be managed in a dignified manner.
• If you invite your parents with the intention to act as babysitters, it may well come back to bite you – so don’t…
• Have patience with their impatience or dis-ease.
Edward Albert said, ‘The simple act of caring is heroic.”
A caring attitude while travelling with an elder will create many magical moments that will enrich the experience for everyone involved.