Tips for Traveling with Seniors

Regardless of age, travel can wear anybody out. Traveling with a senior can be particularly stressful for families, but it doesn’t have to be. Read through this list of simple packing, travel, and arrival tips to make your journey as safe, comfortable and smooth as possible. It is all about being organized, anticipating needs and allowing plenty of extra time. 

Packing List for Seniors:

  • Prepare a Mediset to keep close
  • A list of all medications and dosages
  • Address Book w/ names of doctors, family members, care manager, pharmacy, and other emergency contacts
  • List of allergies
  • Light snacks, especially if your loved one is diabetic
  • Comfortable walking shoes (for the family caregiver), a must even if you plan to transport in a wheel chair
  • Audio book, music, book of puzzles, or favorite entertainment
  • Night light to illuminate important areas at destination
  • Any mobility equipment, such as a cane or walker
  • Layers of clothing as temperatures may fluctuate during travel

Remember Along the Way:

  • Allow for plenty of extra time
  • Take frequent breaks to sit and use the restroom as long lines, extra walking and unusual schedules can be demanding on the body
  • When planning your travel schedule try to tailor it to your loved one’s regular schedule and when they are most fresh and alert

If you are Flying:

  • Book direct flights if possible and choose an aisle seat for easy access to the restrooms
  • Confirm that flights are on-time, check in, and pre-pay for luggage online before traveling to the airport.
  • Call ahead to the airport, shuttles, or hotels if a wheelchair is needed
  • When preparing your luggage, remember 3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume); 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring.
  • Declare larger liquids. Medications are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint. Officers may need to open these items to conduct additional screening.
  • The airport can be a very disorienting place especially for those with dementia. Walk through the steps of the process in advance so they will know about checking luggage, security check points, and boarding procedures. Continually remind them where they are in the process and walk them through necessary action steps.  
  • Remember especially when on a long flight to move the legs around to prevent blood clots

At Your Destination:

  • After arriving at your destination, make sure your loved-one has a chance to rest and recover before planning activities.
  • Set up designated areas for important items like medications so they are oriented in the new space.
  • Define a space that is all their own where they know they can go for rest and quiet when necessary.
  • If necessary, walk your loved-one around the new surroundings so they’ll know exactly where to find necessities like the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Make sure simple adjustments are made to the new destination to maximize safety such as removing small slippery rugs, illuminating hall and stairways and making sure walking paths are clear of clutter. 

Published on June 20, 2017.