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Important Tips For Safe Holiday Travel For Seniors

Written by: Michelle Nicols

Whether you are an adult child whose parents are traveling to see you or a long-distance grandparent yourself, spending time with family during the holidays is probably at the top of your priority list. Although the thought of grandparents, children and grandchildren together under one roof will make travel to that lovely family destination more than worthwhile, recognize that the journey will not only take place in winter but during the busiest of holiday seasons. So, to help ease any stress associated with this holiday excursion we’ve come up with a few tips for seniors to keep in mind.

Flying to your destination
If heading out by air, try to travel before the peak holiday times if your schedule allows. In any case, build in extra time for delays as well as for any disabilities that must be accommodated. Choose direct flights if you can, and, if you can’t, allow a comfortable period between connections. Also, before booking your ticket, think about what seat arrangement would work best for your needs, and avoid sitting in the emergency exit row.

If you have a disability or medical condition, contact the airline to confirm details about its checked bag and carry-on luggage policy and to see how they can accommodate your needs. When traveling with a mobility aid, you may either check it in with your airline or take it to the aircraft with you, depending on its size/weight and airline regulations. After the plane has landed, never get off the plane until you see or have your assistive device or wheelchair. Even if you don’t normally use an aid ask the airline to provide a wheelchair if you have any concerns about the amount of walking involved at the airport.

In addition, take along a list of medications as well as up-to-date medical information and a list of medical and emergency contacts. If you have any life-threatening allergies, wear a medical alert bracelet and/or bring an Epi-pen kit. Bring along a doctor’s note If you need to carry on a medical device or needles. And don’t forget to advise the airline about special dietary needs if the flight serves meals.
Finally, if you plan to drive to the airport, find out where the parking for people with disabilities is located should that be an issue. If relying on a taxi, fully describe your special needs, if any, and know that many companies are equipped with accessible cabs.

Driving to your destination
If your family is relatively close, the weather forecast looks good and you are comfortable with winter driving, a road trip might be your best option. But before heading out, be certain your car is equipped with winter tires and is in good working order. Bring along window washer fluid, antifreeze and engine oil as well as emergency equipment: a first-aid kit, a flashlight, blankets, flares and jumper cables, an ice scraper, bottled water and snacks. Of course, don’t forget to bring along any medical items as described in the previous section.

It goes without saying, but drive according to road and weather conditions, avoiding freezing rain, blizzards or blowing snow altogether. Ensure that your windows and mirrors are clear of ice and snow at all times, and keep a safe distance from other drivers, checking rearview mirrors often. Finally, give yourself plenty of time, planning for frequent breaks.

Whether driving or flying, make sure to get plenty of rest before the trip and wear comfortable clothing.
By taking these few tips, we’re sure you can shave some stress off the travel time so that when you arrive, you’ll be calm, relaxed and fully able to take in the joy of being near family at the best time of the year.

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