What to Know When Travelling with Older Family Members
Travel is back on the agenda for many older Australians after two years of lockdowns and border closures. In fact, the 2022 Travel Trends Report revealed that nearly three-quarters (74%) of over 50s are making plans to travel.
For families looking to reconnect with loved ones, a holiday offers the ideal excuse. Multigenerational travel can be incredibly rewarding, allowing kids and adults of all ages to share in the excitement of travel and delight in each other’s company.
When planning your trip, health and ability – rather than age – should be the primary consideration when deciding where to go and what to do. As with any holiday, you’ll also want to take into account the interests and activity preferences of everyone involved. With proper planning and some flexibility, you can have a rewarding holiday that brings everyone closer together.
Plan ahead, but stay flexible
Planning ahead will reduce stress and manage expectations for everyone. When planning your itinerary, take into account the day-to-day routine for sleep, mealtimes and medication. Consider the activity levels of everyone in your group and what downtime you need to build into your trip.
Resist the temptation to cram your calendar full of activities. Build in plenty of time for getting ready, travel, meals and sleep. If you have pre-booked activities, space them out so you’re not rushing from one to another.
Flexibility is key. Travel often throws up delays or unexpected changes. If you can adopt a positive mindset, you’ll be able to approach these challenges with ease.
Tip: visit the Smart Traveller website for general travel tips and advice related to your destination.
Keep health in mind
It’s important to keep health considerations in mind when planning senior travel. Coronavirus continues to be a concern, and the potential for outbreaks and lockdowns when travelling is deterring some older travellers from heading overseas.
Travelling within Australia’s borders may alleviate many of these concerns, but if you are heading abroad make sure you plan accordingly.
The first stop should be the doctor’s office to discuss any travel-related medical concerns. Make sure everyone in your group is up-to-date with recommended vaccinations. If you’re travelling with medication, make sure you have enough for the trip – plus extra to account for potential delays. Have your doctor write a letter outlining which medications you’re taking and for what condition. And double-check with the embassy of the country you’re visiting that these medications are allowed to cross the border.
Tip: take out travel insurance and make sure it covers any pre-existing health conditions.
Many destinations are embracing the accessibility needs of all travellers and offer packages to accommodate people with disabilities. Research or contact ahead of time any places you’re planning to visit to find out what access they offer. Travability is one website that provides information on accessible travel destinations within Australia and around the world.
If you haven’t seen your older loved one in a while, ask about whether there have been changes in their mobility levels. Are they now using a walking stick to get around? Do they need regular breaks between activities? Do they need a larger hotel room to accommodate a mobility scooter or wheelchair?
Also consider whether they’ll need a mobility aid for travel. Wheelchairs, mobility scooters and walking aids can help make travel easier and more comfortable for older people. Lightweight, foldable mobility aids are ideal as they can easily be packed down for travel by car or plane.
Tip: Contact your airline, hotel and planned attractions to arrange extra help when you arrive.
Time together, time apart
Family travel can be a great way to share experiences, but that doesn’t mean you need to do everything together.
Take note of everyone’s interests and priorities for the trip so you can plan activities accordingly. Likewise, allow time for everyone to do their own thing. Organised tours can be great for older travellers who may not feel confident navigating unfamiliar places alone.
Whatever you do, make time for family interaction. Play games, prepare meals, or just sit with a favourite book or activity. What matters is spending precious time together.
Mobility HQ offers an extensive range of travel mobility aids. Browse our collection of travel assistive technology or get in touch to chat about your needs.