airports, luggage & mobility, oh my!
Before you can sink your toes in the sand on a sunny beach or walk the streets of Paris with a pastry in-hand, you have to make decisions, including what to pack and what accommodations need to be made. For aging individuals and those with mobility challenges, this process can seem even more daunting. All of this information can quickly become overwhelming and stressful, which is the exact opposite of what a vacation should be!
Below are five tips that will help take the stress out of planning and encourage you to find joy in the little moments regardless of where your journey takes you.
Tip 1: Check to see what accommodations airports and the highlights of your destination have available for individuals with limited mobility.
If you or your solo-traveling loved one have a harder time getting around, research airlines that offer services like taking you to and from your gates in a wheelchair or allowing you to catch a ride on one of the luggage golf carts. These accommodations don’t have to stop at the door of the plane either. Depending on the airline, you can request that a flight attendant remind your loved one or yourself of when medications need to be taken if need be. Before booking your flight or choosing an airport, always be sure to call and ask what services are available, as these offerings may vary from airport to airport.
Whether you or your loved one are staying with family for a weekend, or going on a several week-long European tour, it’s best to research your lodgings and all of the highlights that you plan on visiting to make sure that they have the accommodations that you would need as well. If you have difficulty getting around, try to make sure you book a room on the first floor, or one that has wheelchair-accessible doors and showers.
The same goes for locations. If you plan to visit a place that requires an excessive amount of walking like a museum or an area that may be harder to reach like a beach, look for wheelchair rentals or rest areas for places to catch your breath in between sightseeing adventures.
Tip 2: Now that you’ve confirmed the offered services, it’s time to start packing!
Some people are minimalists when it comes to packing, while others pack nearly everything, except the kitchen sink! While there are some things that are completely necessary like medication, proper attire depending on the season and location and contact and medical information, there are many things that aren’t necessary. If you have access to the internet, you can do some research to get ideas on what to pack for your trip.
Ideally, you should try to pack everything that you will need for your trip in a rolling suitcase and a carry-on bag. If you are packing prescriptions, be sure that they are in a plastic baggy and are stashed in your carry-on bag before leaving. Remember to keep the medication in the prescription bottles rather than placing them in a weekly reminder box to avoid being stopped by security and always keep them in your carry-on bag just in case your checked luggage would get lost.
Tip 3: Information that you should always take with you no matter where you go.
Before you step foot out of the house, you should be sure that multiple copies of all prescriptions and dosages, doctors’ notes, identification, tickets, boarding passes, contact information and insurance papers are made. These copies should be put in the suitcase, carry-on bag and on your loved one’s person in a safe place. Remind your loved one to keep bags close to them at all times to ensure safety and security.
In addition to family and other important contacts, it is also important to have copies of emergency medical contacts. This will give you and your loved one peace of mind as they make the solo journey.
Tip 4: Find a way to balance your time and itinerary.
Allow yourself the freedom to take each day as it comes. It’s important to understand you will not be able to make it to every attraction, restaurant or shop that you may have had on your original list. By making a condensed list of your top 5 or 10 places that you want to see or visit depending on the duration of your stay, you will be able to keep a full schedule without wearing yourself too thin. If you find your schedule is too full or too bare, you can add or remove things as needed. While it is important that you get an opportunity to see the things on your list, it is also important that you listen to your body and rest when you need to.
Tip 5: Keep a travel log of the big and little moments from your trip.
In addition to making a list of the top places you would like to visit, you should also consider keeping a log (or even a blog) of the places that you go, the sites that you visit, the food that you eat, the people that you meet and the things that you feel through each step of your journey. If you don’t enjoy writing, or if it tires you, consider recording your voice on your phone or other device. This will be a beautiful way to relive each detail of your trip and maybe even give you the courage to start out on your next adventure!