After a long excursion in cars, airports, and taxis, I myself feel quite tired and need time to recharge my batteries. On a recent family trip to Florida, I was amazed at how well my parents (aged 80 and 75) were able to make it through the journey from door to door. While we thankfully encountered no big issues in transit, there were a few things that stood out as key tips to traveling with the elderly who aren’t frequent fliers.
1. Wear easy to maneuver clothing:
Although many airports in the United States appear to have eased security requirements starting in 2012 for any passengers over 75 years of age (no requirement to remove shoes, jacket, belt) this may not be the case on international flights. Additionally it may not be consistent airport to airport in the United States. My father was asked to remove his belt at both airports we went to. If possible, try to wear comfortable clothing that does not include a jacket or belt to ease getting through security. Wrap a sweater around your middle or put it in your carry-on, in case you get cold.
2. Request a wheel chair for easier transit:
On the day we left for vacation, we arrived at the airport a few hours in advance, as we should. Since we were early, we had to wait in a long line to go through security, while others who were beating the clock were put on a shorter line. While waiting on this long line for about 45 minutes, my father began to feel very tired in his legs, but hung in there and made it. If you think you or a loved one you may be traveling with will have difficulty waiting in these long lines, I suggest asking for wheelchair assistance when booking the reservation with the airline. This helps make the journey from arrival to take off much more manageable.
3. Carry-on your medication:
My parents’ prescription medication bottles mostly consumed my carry-on bag. As a rule, always take medication onto the plane, and never place it in checked luggage. Losing luggage is bad enough, but losing vital medication can have even more serious consequences.
4. Document key medical information:
I would urge everyone to write down a list of all your prescription medications, doctor contact information, and a list of any serious ailments you have in case an emergency takes place. This is especially important if you are traveling alone. This information would be vital to getting you the right care and treatment if it became necessary.
5. Pack your favorite snack:
For those who may be diabetic or have low blood sugar challenges, I suggest you make sure to pack a healthy and appropriate snack for yourself. The entire journey of checking in, going through security, and finally taking off can be a long and tiring process. It can be challenging to find a healthy snack at the airport, and it can be 45 minutes or more after take-off before snacks on the airplane are offered. Bring your own supply so that you can eat when you need to.
6. Document Control:
Fumbling around with your wallet to get your I.D. while trying to juggle your boarding pass and other documents can be difficult. I highly recommend using a fanny pack, a cross-body purse, or a passport holder that you place around your neck to keep all essential documents within reach. There are multiple places at the airport where you need to show this information, and it can be hard to keep it straight. It is very easy to drop or lose something with all of this shuffling.
As always, I wish you all happy and safe travels.
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