Planes, Canes and Automobiles: Traveling with Seniors

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Whether it’s a holiday weekend getaway, a reunion with a far-away loved one, or, in sadder cases, a chance to say goodbye to a sibling or childhood friend, the opportunity to travel with a senior can be a rich and rewarding experience for everyone involved.

Just how rich and rewarding may well be determined by how you avoid and overcome some of the potential challenges along the way.

The key thing to remember is you can never be too prepared. When traveling with seniors, it is essential to take the three M's – in this case: meds, mobility issues, and Murphy’s Law – into consideration. Some areas where you should plan
to plan:

Documentation: Make sure that both you and your senior loved one have sufficient and valid photo identification and it is accessible throughout your journey. Particularly if you are traveling by air or crossing national borders, there may be multiple checkpoints along the way. A non-expired, government-issued passport is best as it carries the most weight with TSA and other officials, but you should also have a backup such as a state-issued I.D. or driver’s license. You can view TSA requirements for valid photo identification here. If you don’t have a valid passport, then definitely carry two pieces
of I.D.

Call Ahead: If you are flying, call the airline ahead of time and let them know that you will be accompanied by a senior passenger. Arrange any special services you might need in advance whether it’s a wheelchair at the gate, a seating request or a dietary consideration. If you are staying in a hotel, on a cruise, or participating in a tour (either an extended one or a day trip), make sure that everyone involved is aware of whatever requirements your senior might have.

Medications: In many cases, this is the single most important moving part of traveling with seniors. You’ve probably already planned for the meds they will need while they’re away from home, but you should also make sure you are familiar with how they can refill or replace a prescription if needed… particularly if they are heavily regulated drugs. If you are flying, pack all medications in carry-on bags, but in their original containers. Don’t try to consolidate or put them in a day sorter or they might not clear TSA. Click here for more information about what TSA does and does not allow in
carry-on bags.

Prepare Your Senior: Speaking of TSA, seniors who haven’t traveled very often since September 11th may be surprised by increased security measures. Consider going over the new procedures in advance. Seniors who know what to expect will get through security more quickly and smoothly.

Carry Smart: Make sure both you and your senior companion have organized your money and documentation to deter thieves. Consider suggesting a money belt or a Passage Wallet, rather than an easily snatched handbag or pocket wallet. Keep carry-on bags in contact with your body – in your hands, between your feet, or looped around the leg of a chair you are sitting in – at all times.

Pack Lightly: This one’s obvious, but bears repeating. You are responsible for getting your senior travel companion and any medication, gear and luggage they have safely to their destination so the less you have to carry, the better off
you’ll be.

Safe and happy travels!


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