Travelling when elderly

There is no reason why elderly people should not travel, either independently or with family, but there are some basic things that need to be taken into account.

Much depends on the person’s level of fitness and self-confidence, and allowances may need to be made to include more time into the journey. If a person is on regular medication, it is worth checking that the destination “allows” such medication to be brought into their country as some medications such as painkillers are not licensed in all countries. It may be you also need to carry a letter written by your GP confirming you require such medications and this should be sought in advance.

It also depends to some extent on the mode of transport and the distance to be travelled as well. For example, at airports make sure to allow enough time to get through check in, bag drop and security and if possible use an online check-in the night before to save time.

It’s also worth checking what special facilities are available, such as induction loops, reserved seating areas and disabled toilets as well as buggy transport through the airport if walking long distances is a problem. It’s also worth checking access issues and availability of things such as ramps for wheelchairs, mobility scooters and walking frames.

Travelling by car gives more flexibility to allow for regular “comfort break” stops. It is worth checking in advance where all the suitable services are for regular pit stops and emergency loo breaks.

For long distance and holiday travel make sure to:

  • Print off a list of the elderly traveller’s medical issues and medications, so if needed, it’s in a format that medical professionals anywhere in the world can easily understand.
  • Check in advance what the criteria is for travelling with wheelchairs and mobility scooters
  • When flying, arrange for an aisle seat for the elderly family member so he/she can easily get up and walk around. This holds true for car or train rides as well. The elderly are at increased risk for blood clots when sitting too long.
  • Pack extra batteries for hearing aids and make sure they are turned to an appropriate volume.
  • Bring an extra pair of glasses.
  • Take plenty of prescription medication, packed in a carry-on bag for flying.