There is no boundary for travel. One can travel at any age, at any time, and anywhere. So, what our parents are a senior citizen.
Recently, my parents traveled to my place Pune from Kolkata. Pune is in Maharashtra, which is located in western Indian, and Kolkata is located in eastern India.
Both my parents are senior citizens. I met them in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic started that; since it wasn’t safe to travel, we didn’t go to our hometown.
It’s been a long time, and my mother especially was dying to see us. So, my husband and I decided to bring them to our place.
One can travel from Kolkata to Pune via train as well as flight. Both the transport mode is comfortable enough.
Keeping the Covid situation in mind, we thought the best mode of communication would be via flight.
We had to keep in mind several things since they are elderly parents.
In this blog post, I will share some best travel tips for elderly parents in flights to consider. I am sure you would also want your parents to travel safely and hassle-free.
Best Travel Tips for Elderly Parents in Flight
Planning is Important
Either you are traveling with your elderly parents or traveling alone; planning is key in both. A little research about the airline facilities for the senior citizen, norms, seat availability, amenities present in the airport, and so on will help in planning the travel.
Elderly parents aren’t flexible, and they are dependent for everything on us, so it is necessary to take care of them that comforts them to the best.
You must plan everything prior to their travel. Their medications, flight booking details, food arrangement, medical assistance in an emergency, and other details, especially if they travel alone from one destination to another.
Book a Non-Stop Flight
When you plan a travel with or for your elderly parents, always try to book a non-stop domestic/international flight.
It is hard to get a non-stop international flight if your destination, for example, is from Mumbai to Toronto. You will have to change two flights. In that case, it is nearly impossible to book a non-stop flight.
Domestically, always look for a non-stop flight for your elderly parents. It saves time as well as hassle-free.
Reach Early at the Airport
Usually, reaching 2 hours early at the airport is fine. But if you have elderly parents with you or they are traveling alone, make sure they reach the airport at least 3 hours early.
Elderly parents get panic when they hurry, so if they reach early at the airport, they can process slowly and comfortably.
Talk to a Doctor Prior to the Travel Date
Senior citizens are prone to diseases and illness. They might have diabetes, have heart issues or orthopedic issues, or any other physical issues. It is always a wise decision to consult a doctor prior to the travel date.
Flight travel is usually comfortable, but some elderly parents might encounter physical issues.
They undergo different medications, consulting a doctor will help to handle any medical emergency situation.
For example: Due to the current Covid-19 surge in India, we advised our parents to consult a physician to check if it is safe for them to travel or not.
Complete Their Covid Vaccinations
During this time of traveling to any place, it would be better to get Covid vaccinations.
Now that the Covid vaccinations are available, the government and different health centers are taking vaccination initiatives.
For Example, in India, the Covid vaccinations have started across the country, and doctors are encouraging to take the vaccinations.
Note: Even if you take the vaccinations, you must remember that you still have to wear masks and use sanitizers for precautions.
Communicate with the Airline and Arrange Airport Assistance
This is one of the best travel tips for elderly parents when traveling on flights.
As a responsible daughter or son, you must communicate with the airline and get all the information related to the respective airline and destination airport norms and documents to carry.
If your parents have walking issues or any kind of physical issues, to make their travel comfortable, you can ask for airport assistance throughout.
Every airline and airport assist the senior citizen if ask for.
Look for any discounted airfare. Often if you are a regular traveler with any particular airline, you get several offers like a discount on the extra mile, a free meal, a bonus on your next trip, an up-gradation to business class, and discounted airfare.
You can avail these services when you are traveling with your older parents.
Book XL seats with extra legroom at the Flight
I would add another best travel tips for elderly parents when traveling in flight that is proven very helpful – you can book XL seats with extra legroom for them.
While booking flight tickets online, you will be given a choice of choosing seats. Every flight has a few XL seats that are a bit costly, but they are incredibly comfortable.
And you would always want your elderly parents to be utmost comfortable throughout the journey.
In case you don’t get XL seats, you can go for the aisle seats.
Arrange all the Medication Document in a File
When our parents get old, they become prone to illness. They have medicines to take, doctors to visit, some days they are healthy whereas there are days when their body doesn’t permit them to do much physical activities.
Likewise, my parents are also aged, and they are dependent on medicines. Medicines they can’t miss.
So, I asked them to make a file of all the medical documents, reports, and prescriptions from their doctors.
The file consists of all their medical reports so that they have all the medications and their reports handy in case of any emergency.
Ensure They Pack Light
I always recommend packing light when traveling. Only pack those items that you will use and are necessary for your traveling.
Young people can travel with one travel suitcase or just a backpack, but older people can’t do that.
If your elderly parents are traveling for a few days on a hill station, they will need enough warm clothes, shoes, socks, gloves, caps, all the medications, thermos, a small water heater, and so on.
If they need anything, they can’t frequently travel from shop to shop. They would want everything handy so that they will remain worriless.
But this is possible if they are traveling with someone young, even if they carry heavy bags they won’t have to push and pull. They will have someone to assist.
What if they are traveling alone to a place?
In that case, packing light is the safest travel tip I can give for elderly parents.
By packing light and carrying fewer items I mean, packing only necessary things that they can use alternatively.
For example, if your elderly parents are on a short trip to a beach for a couple of days, you can pack a couple of light clothes, slippers, towels, and other necessities for them, which will fit in a small duffle bag or a lightweight travel suitcase.
Arrange Transport Mode from the Destination Airport
Imagine you have forgotten to arrange or pre-book transport mode at the destination airport and your parents are clueless about it, resulting in facing difficulties.
You wouldn’t want that.
That’s the reason my next travel tips for you would be to arrange ‘transport mode’ for your elderly parents.
You can pre-book a cab from Uber or Ola or bus service or tell your friend/relative to pick them from the airport and drop them at the destination.
Make sure you stay connected with them throughout.
If your elderly parents have a physical disability or have mobility issues, you have to think about how to travel with them in flight. You must plan ahead, talk to the airport and airline services seeking help for your elderly parents.
If they have wheelchair access, make sure they provide end-to-end service receiving your ailing parents from the airport gate and assist them to the flight.
If they ask you to reserve one wheelchair, do that without hesitating.
Parents who cannot walk without a wheelchair can take a personal wheelchair, airlines can not stop you from using it. But to avoid issues, you can let them know while booking your flight tickets.
Often the security check-ups go easy on the elderly parents and they don’t have to remove their shoes, belt, etc.
Certainly, you have to pre-planned everything before you start traveling with your elderly parents.
Preparation for Security
It is mandatory at all airports both internationally and domestically to go through screening at the security checkpoint. Often elderly parents get confused and nervous because that’s not routine for them.
But you can make it easier for them if you consider talking/consulting with the airline and airport services. If your elderly parents have medical conditions, there can be made few changes like they don’t have to wait in the long lines, they can get assistance from the fellow airport staff.
Accommodation – with/without quarantine
Due to the Covid-19 surge, some cities have restricted the arrival of people outside the city or state to follow a 14/7 days quarantine in the hotel.
If your elderly parents are traveling to such places, make sure you book a decent hotel with all the basic amenities and maintain good sanity.
If it is not a Covid affected place, you should still book a hotel that follows all the Covid-19 safety protocols and norms.
Food Arrangement in the Flight
What about the food arrangement for your elderly parents when traveling on flights?
You have to think about that too.
All the airlines provide amazing food options on the flight. Though they are a bit costlier, a simple chicken club sandwich will cost you INR 300-350.
They have both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food options; you can choose and pay while making a booking for the seats.
Since food is not allowed to take on the flight, you can arrange food for them.
For example, we added for my parent’s veg sandwich in the flight. Especially if the flight timing is odd, it is always better to take the food options.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
Wearing light and comfortable clothes while traveling is the best travel tips that I always follow and recommend to others.
I have seen many senior citizens when I travel domestically; they wear traditional Indian clothes like saree and salwar kameej.
I advised my mother to wear leggings and cotton Kurti as it is way more comfortable and lighter.
Since they are aged, lighter clothes will make them feel better during their journey.
The best travel fabric is cotton, buy them any cotton clothes and let them wear that.
Encourage Cashless Travel
My last travel tips for elderly parents is to encourage them to go ‘cashless.’
By cashless, I mean, educate and encourage them to carry minimal cash when they travel and use cards, digital pay like PayTm, GooglePay, etc.
I have seen my parents struggle to use digital pay; instead, they are comfortable using cash and carrying money everywhere. This makes them vulnerable when they travel alone.
Now that they are with us, we are trying to educate them and make them understand how to use digital payment.
Buy a Senior Citizens Travel Insurance
In India, people usually don’t consider buying senior citizen travel insurance. But it is an important thing to consider as it is a protective shield in case of any unwanted accidents.
It will cover your parent’s health damage cost, and if the airline lost their luggage or any valuable item, certain travel insurance also covers that.
These are my 17 best travel tips for elderly parents that you can consider for your parents for safe travel. Be it international or domestic travel, the safety of our elderly parents is our responsibility.