Late 2016 I won the greatest competition of my life – a family trip to Universal Studios, Orlando! The prize was for four adults, and after a short conversation with my amazing, and very understanding girlfriend Helen, we decided to ask my elderly, retired parents if they’d like to join us.
While they love their short-breaks to Spain, they’ve never flown long haul, and this would be the first time we’d been on holiday ‘as a family’ in almost a decade. My dad really didn’t get a say in the matter, as we explained the competition, the prize and asked them both while he was brushing his teeth. My mum interjected quickly – a reason, I and most people absolutely love her!
We my dad took it upon himself and decided to visit for my dad’s (his) 60th Birthday in April 2017, and invite my 20 year old brother – another long haul holiday virgin with us.
Unfortunatly, my parents are both severally disabled – more than they’d like to admit. An while they put a brave face on, their illness alongside their age was a worry.
However, I made a couple of small adjustments to ensure that our dream family holiday ran smoothly. An I wanted to share these hints and tips on how to travel with your elderly parents for others in a similar situation.
The airport is a stressful place for anyone. However, our trip to the airport was made easier by upgrading to ‘meet and greet’ parking. All we needed to do was pull up to the airport departure doors on arrival and there a member of staff was waiting to help us with our bags and take our car to the car park.
On our return, we simply called the parking company who delivered our car promptly to the arrivals doors.
There were five of us travelling and the additional cost of this was around an extra £5 each. We used comparison website Looking4Parking to ensure we got the very best deal. The value for money here is absolutely amazing – Making it an absolute must when travelling with your elderly parents!
Flying long haul often means arriving to the airport in advance when compared to short haul flights. For the comfort of my elderly parents and to ensure the best value for money we used our American Express cards to gain complimentary access to the airport lounge.
Even if you don’t have complimentary access thanks to American Express I’d advise you to look into an airport lounge.
These places are fantastic value for money and start at around £15 each with complimentary drinks (including alcohol), snacks, small meals, TV, WIFI and magazines. There also secluded and out of the way, making it the ideal relaxation spot.
Extra Legroom / Aeroplane Upgrades
As well as being old (sorry Dad, it’s true) my dad is a big guy – and stubborn (sorry Dad, it’s also true…) an assumed that the Virgin Atlantic flight we were going to be flying on would equate to a Ryanair flight. Regardless of the number of times I tried to explain.
An so we looked to upgrade their seats. We opted for extra legroom at a cost of £55 per person, each way although next time we’d look at bidding for premium economy when flying on Virgin Atlantic.
Regardless of whether you’re flying short-haul or long-haul the small investment into an upgrade of any kind can make a big difference in your elderly parents comfort. To keep costs down, us younger lot sat behind them in the standard seats (and boy did they enjoy rubbing that in!)
Stay Close To Attractions & Amenities
Orlando, Florida is probably one of the most taxing trips for a healthy family, let alone an elderly one. Especially for someone who’s never been before. Luckily our prize included a stay on-site at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, at Universal Orlando.
Staying on-site meant that we could access the theme parks and restaurants in a matter of minutes using various modes of transport (including boat!)
Minimising the time and effort it takes to travel reduces stress, not just on them, but on you too!
Take Regular Breaks
Thank goodness for benches and Starbucks!
Taking regular breaks and taking the whole trip ‘steady’ is essential in ensuring the longevity of a trip and avoiding burn out. Not only would we take our theme park days incredibly slow, we’d also ensure we had a ‘pool day’ every other day to ensure we were all well rested.
In conclusion, some small changes and a little organisation can make a big difference when travelling with your elderly parents. An our first trip together in almost a decade was a huge success, in fact they loved the US so much we’re actually going back again in October!
As always I’d love to know your suggestions on how to travel with your elderly parents, if you have any leave me a comment in the comments section below.