Over 100 million Americans are expected to travel this holiday season.
If that number holds true this year, many people will have to navigate airports, buses, trains and road traffic just to spend the holidays with loved ones.
Traveling can be stressful and exhausting no matter what age you are. But for many seniors, preparation is critical to making holiday travel easier and less stressful. Whether you plan to stay nearby or travel hundreds of miles to visit relatives, here are some helpful tips for traveling this time of year.
The best way to reduce stress during the holidays is to be prepared. If you plan to travel during the holidays and have several chronic conditions, it’s important to visit your doctor beforehand to make sure it is safe for you to travel.
Once you get your doctor’s approval, ask a family member or caregiver to help you pack everything you need, including clothing, prescriptions and other items that may help you pass the time. Avoid overpacking, as this often makes travel more of a hassle. Also write down and carry emergency contact information for your caregiver and doctor with you in the event of an emergency.
Ask for Special Accommodations
Ask a family member to help you arrange special travel services before your trip. Most airports, train and bus companies provide special accommodations for certain travelers. Airports can accommodate wheelchair requests for people who need extra assistance and often will have an employee accompany the person to ensure he or she boards and departs the plane safely. You also can request special seating, such as an aisle seat or one closer to the restroom so you feel more comfortable. These accommodations must be made at least 24 hours in advance, but the sooner you arrange them, the better.
Carry-On Important Medications and Documents
Pack all your prescriptions and important documents (emergency contact information and ID) in your carry-on luggage if you are traveling by plane, or in a personal bag you’ll keep close by if you are traveling by bus or train. For seniors with dementia, it’s also a good idea to wear an ID bracelet for added safety.
Not everyone will travel by plane or public transportation during the holidays. Many people also drive to see relatives in neighboring cities or states. If the car ride will be a few hours and you are driving yourself or traveling with family members, make sure to stop a few times to get out of the confined space, use the bathroom and get something to eat.
Drink Plenty of Water
We often forget — or don’t have enough time — to eat when we travel. However, if you’re taking a long trip, eat or drink something beforehand. As we age, our bodies have less of an ability to hold onto water. This causes dehydration, which can lead to low blood sugar and fatigue. Make sure you have a bottle of water with you and avoid soda, coffee and other caffeinated drinks that may cause dehydration.
The holidays are a great time to share wonderful moments with family and friends. As you travel to see your loved ones, do everything you can make to your trip as easy and as safe as possible so you can enjoy the holiday season.