By Karen Laing
On the road, meeting the requirements of a two-year-old and an 82-year-old alike can be near impossible. Despite these organisational challenges, there’s good reason for the recent boom in multigenerational travel. Going on a holiday with several generations of the family at once is one of the most rewarding ways to spend prolonged, memorable quality time with our elderly loved ones.
Here are suggestions on how to take a great holiday with elderly relatives that the whole family can enjoy.
How to take a great holiday with an elderly relative
1. Family conversations
Senior age is no barrier to exotic, memorable adventures – just check out the inspiring journey of this 90-year-old who, facing cancer, decided to travel the world in a camper! So don’t rule out an adventure just yet. Ask where your elderly relatives want to go and what they want to see; this may well be one of their first opportunities to travel in a long time, or ever.
If they have health or mobility issues, there are plenty of fantastic, laidback trips on offer too. Cruising can be a great way for seniors and kids alike to have a no fuss, logistically simple holiday and make friends along the way – without dealing with multiple bookings, excessive pacing and airport security.
Even beyond the travel type, it’s best to find out your elderly relative’s non-negotiable needs when it comes to things like accommodation before you start booking – such as elevators, air conditioning or an ensuite – to prevent hiccups on the road.
2. Book early
The key to a headache-free multigenerational trip is to get researching, planning and booking early. Travel never comes cheap, especially for those on the pension or welfare – doing your homework well in advance can get you early bird discounts and the pick of the best-value accommodation for bigger groups (and a less stressful pre-holiday period!).
3. Logistical preparations
To get into the nitty gritty, here are some factors to consider to make your multigenerational trip go smoothly.
- Pick the shortest, most direct transit options available, departing and arriving at reasonable times of the day.
- If there’s a long flight with one or more stops involved, look into breaking up the journey with an overnight stay near an airport en route.
- Those with health issues might like to get clearance and tips from their doctor prior.
- If your elderly relative is in a wheelchair, research in advance how accessible your destination is, from public transport to sidewalks. Consider hiring a driver and car for all or part of the trip.
- After a long flight, pre-booked airport transfers are a godsend when travelling with kids or elderly people. Depending on the size of the group and the local costs of your destination, they can even work out cheaper than taxis.
- Think ahead with little things like making sure there are chairs on the beach, where the sand isn’t ideal for older knees, or checking to make sure any hire cars are easy for your elderly loved one to to get into and out of. It’ll make a huge difference to their comfort and mood.
4. Request special services in advance
If they’d like assistance getting on and off the plane, notify the airline well in advance – ideally when booking – for every connection of the flight. If travelling with a wheelchair be sure to request a seat in the designated row. Dietary requirements should also be advised well before you show up at the airport.
5. Healthcare considerations
In case of an emergency, be sure you know where the nearest hospitals and medical centres are during each leg of your journey and each destination along the way. Bring contact details for your medical insurance, your own doctor back home, and English-speaking doctors in the places you plan to visit.
6. Packing tips
Packing light is not just a good idea but a necessity when travelling with those who are elderly or less mobile – for their backs and knees, and yours!
Remember to place all medications into a clear ziplock bag, labelled clearly, and bring along any prescriptions for the sake of security. Have these in an easily accessible pocket or tote bag in your carry-on luggage so you can quickly whip them out during check-in.
7. Enjoy the slower pace
Make sure you arrive with plenty of time before every flight, train trip and day tour, so your elderly loved one has plenty of time to get settled. Factoring in extra time to get ready each day, and for breaks when on the road, is another good idea. You’ll also want to avoid too much walking.
But pacing yourself more slowly than usual doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Enjoy the downtime and extra breaks – it’s an excuse to soak up the gorgeous views, rather than constantly rushing to get to the next activity!
It’s all about making the most of the moments you have. Travelling with multiple generations at once can be a daunting trip to prepare and research, but when you’re finally on the road, surrounded by all your closest family members, you may just have one of the best holidays of your life.
About the author
Karen Laing is a funeral director from Sydney with over 20 years’ experience. She’s passionate about helping people to make the most of their later years, and create beautiful memories to share with loved ones.