For Caregivers – Benefits of Travel Pre-Planning
Vacations are a welcomed break and time to recharge one’s batteries. With a little pre-planning, stress can be reduced and enjoying the vacation can begin right away! Here are just a few items that may help make the caregiver’s planning for a vacation go smoother.
Setting expectations – As you start to think about your vacation, you and your loved one should discuss reasonable expectations of what you want to do during your vacation. Adding time in your schedule for rest, stretching, eating, medication dosing, or walking from place to place. For example, if taking a cruise, you may not want to get off the ship at each stop/locale but decide to stay on the ship and enjoy some rest time and perks (i.e. getting a reduced price massage). It’s best to discuss expectations ahead of the trip instead of having a disappointing discussion during the vacation.
Use a travel planner or travel agency
Using a travel planner/agency – If you are going on a cruise, tour, or international vacation, you may find it easier to plan by using a travel planner or travel agency. Find a professional who has experience planning travel for those with health conditions or disabilities. They can provide guidance in finding excursions and sightseeing stops that can accommodate those using assistive devices or special needs.
Purchase travel insurance
Purchasing travel insurance – Although an additional travel expense, travel insurance can provide financial protection in case of an unexpected illness. I hope you never have to use the benefits of the insurance but it can also be helpful if one gets sick during the trip. It can provide monies to cover medical expenses or transportation. Please consult an insurance or travel professional for more information about travel insurance.
Make arrangements for additional help
Making arrangements for additional help – If you think you may need additional help for a trip, plan for this type of help ahead of time as much as you can. Do you have a friend or family member who could travel with you to help you and your loved one? Or do you have a paid caregiver that would accompany you on the trip? Is there a car or taxi service that can make it easier for you to arrive at the airport, hotel, or train station?
Alert the transportation company or hotels
Alerting the transportation company or hotels – When you book your plane, train, ship or hotel, make sure to alert them of your loved one’s special needs. Ask for the most help you may need, as you can always decline the service if it is not needed. If you book online, make sure the room you requested is handicapped accessible or has grab bars and roll in showers. If you don’t feel confident about your online request, give them a call and confirm with a live person. Reserve additional assistive devices to be available either en route or at your destination if you do not or cannot bring your own.
Preview the layout of airports, terminals, and stations
Preview the layout of airports, terminals, and stations via the Internet – Most, if not all municipalities or public spaces have maps and directories online that you can preview ahead of your trip. This will give you an opportunity to understand how you can navigate the area. The location of escalators, elevators, information desks, restrooms, baggage claim areas can be viewed ahead of time so that when you are making your way through the area, you are more knowledgeable about your surroundings. You may even be able to download the map to your phone or use an app. Sometimes, you may find a shorter route to your destination. There are many, many signs to read in these public places but I find that if I even have a slight idea of where I am going, it can be reassuring!
Utilize curbside check-in
Curbside check-in – These professionals can be a great help in allowing you to relinquish your bags earlier in your departure, so you don’t have to drag them farther into the airport. For a few extra dollars or tip, you can have the ease of checking your bags in sooner, checking flight status, sometimes securing a porter to help with getting to security area, or even finding someone to get you a wheelchair to use to your gate.
Use a porter
Use a porter – Even though it can be an added expense, don’t hesitate to ask a porter to help you with your bags or help you get to your departure point. These folks are professionals who are very familiar with their spaces and can save you a lot time and effort navigating terminals, hotels, and stations. They do work for tips in most places so please, do show your appreciation by thanking them verbally and providing them with a tip you feel is suitable for your situation.
Always remember! Don’t hesitate to ask for help or assistance. There have been a few times when we’ve traveled that my husband’s medication stopped working and our best laid plans ground to a halt. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from airline, hotel, train, or cruise ship personnel. Most people in the travel or hospitality industry are very kind and want to do whatever they can to make your travel and stay a pleasant experience.