How to Change a Diaper Anywhere

It’s fairly straighforward to change a squirming baby on a changing table, but good luck on a rocking boat. Learn how to change a diaper when traveling, from tiny plane bathrooms to out hiking. It can be done.

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Consider Mobility and Health

Consider Mobility and Health

Many senior citizens don’t need a wheelchair in their everyday lives, but that doesn’t mean they can walk long distances or handle lots of stairs. Val Grubb, the founder of Travel with Aging Parents blog and the author of Planes, Canes, and Automobiles: Connecting with Your Aging Parents through Travel, has a lot of expertise in this area. For example, she emphasizes the importance of knowing a hotel layout in order to minimize the amount of walking between the room and other hotel amenities. If a wheelchair is required, she suggests arranging a dedicated wheelchair from the hotel beforehand. Otherwise, hotels typically provide a wheelchair to get to the room, but it’s not for exclusive use. Additionally, airlines and tourist attractions, such as museums and zoos, should also provide loaner or rental wheelchairs.

Be sensitive to any medical conditions, such as diabetes, since it involves its own set of procedures while traveling. Also remember that many seniors take medication with food, so a set meal schedule may be necessary. 
960 1280

ozgurdonmaz  

Make Sure Travel Insurance Includes Medical

Make Sure Travel Insurance Includes Medical

Some travel insurance plans only cover financial losses, and Medicare doesn’t cover overseas travel. Check the U.S. Department of State for a list of recommended medical providers. Be sure to choose one that includes medical evacuation, or medevac, in case of an emergency; that option could be cost-prohibitive if insurance doesn’t cover it. If traveling abroad, it’s also important to learn the generic name for any prescription medicines. Grubb says don’t assume other countries will know the U.S. brand name.   

The U.S. Department of State is also a good reference for general travel tips for seniors.
960 1280

vm  

Ask for Assistance

Ask for Assistance

Amtrak offers a Red Cap service where agents will carry luggage onto the train before everyone else boards. You can request wheelchair assistance when booking a flight reservation, and airlines will provide a wheelchair for use to the gate. Even if a wheelchair isn’t needed, consider requesting preboarding if extra assistance is needed getting to a seat.

Hotels will also provide special accommodations, from wheelchairs to ADA-compliant rooms. Grubb says hotels can even meet other needs, such as providing rubber sheets for those who are incontinent. Be sure to research and request as far in advance as possible.
960 1280

Pgiam  

Take Advantage of Senior Discounts

Take Advantage of Senior Discounts

AARP members can receive discounts on cruises, hotels, flights, and more. Even if you’re not a member, seniors are still eligible for discounts on Amtrak and Southwest Airlines, and at Marriott hotels; be sure to research ahead. 960 1280

Candice Cusack  

Choose Accessible Hotels Near the Action

Choose Accessible Hotels Near the Action

“Look for hotels that are close to where you want to be,” says Grubb. “Don’t fall under the allure of staying at cheap hotels, since they may not be in the center of the action, and you make up for it by taking cabs everywhere.” She also suggests booking American hotels abroad, such as Marriott, to ensure they’ll have ADA-compliant features like grab bars in the shower and elevators.

Grubb stresses the importance of speaking with a front desk manager before booking a non-ADA-compliant hotel in order to discuss whatever accommodations need to be met, such as needing a room close to the lobby. Grubb also advises asking if the hotel has a doctor on-site 24/7 for seniors with medical conditions.
960 1280

Alicia_Garcia  

Schedule Enough Downtime

Schedule Enough Downtime

Traveling is exhausting even if you’re young and fit. Allow for at least a day or two of downtime upon reaching your destination, especially when traveling long distances. However, downtime doesn’t end there. When sightseeing, Grubb advises to consider everyone’s pace. “We’re used to giving young children breaks, but we’re far less tolerant when our aging parents have the same needs.” As a rule of thumb, she suggests visiting a major site, then having a meal before visiting another site.

Frequent bathroom stops, such as every two hours, are also important for some seniors. Finally, Grubb says it’s ok to plan some activities to do on your own, as long as seniors are occupied—even if that's simply relaxing by the hotel pool. Arrange for staff to check on them if left alone for more than a short period.
960 1280

Jasmina007  

Allow Enough Time at the Airport

Allow Enough Time at the Airport

Grubb recommends getting to the airport at least two hours before domestic flights to allow for check-in, luggage, security, and getting to the gate. Take advantage of wheelchair assistance and preboarding. Familiarize yourself with TSA procedures and requirements. For example, those 75 and older aren’t required to remove shoes and light jackets. However, additional screening may be required for those with medical devices or implants.

Medications are another realm; while liquids must meet the 3-1-1 rule, exceptions are made for prescription liquids and creams. Medications should include the prescription and be in their original, labeled containers.
960 1280

Alexander Gatsenko  

Arrange for Childcare

Arrange for Childcare

Grubb says to discuss childcare in advance if you’re traveling with young children and elderly parents, instead of assuming that your parents will babysit. “It’s your parents vacation as well,” she says. Instead, research childcare options at the destination. 960 1280

Susan Chiang  

Pick a Destination with Activities for all Ages

Pick a Destination with Activities for all Ages

Grubb recommends cruises, all-inclusive resorts, or theme parks like Disney World for those who don’t have the time to research accessible options. For example, Disney World has electric wheelchairs, and it’s easy to get around if you stay on site. 960 1280

Dan Anderson / Contributor  

Don’t Feel Limited to Specific Locations

Don’t Feel Limited to Specific Locations

On the other hand, cruises, resorts, and theme parks aren’t the only option, and not everyone’s idea of a vacation. Grubb says she chooses a location based on where she and her mom want to visit, and then Googles accessibility options. For example, for an upcoming vacation in Florida, she’s researching beaches and resorts that offer beach wheelchairs. Grubb also arranges private car service in foreign cities that lack accessible public transportation or walkable streets.

“It isn’t as much hassle as you think and it’s well worth it,” says Grubb.
960 1280

Steven Frame  

Get Buy-In

Get Buy-In

Include your children­–even toddlers–in the trip planning and countdown so they have something to look forward to and aren’t completely surprised by a drastic change in their schedule. Even if kiddoes can’t understand the full concept of the trip, they can share in the excitement of an upcoming airplane ride or swimming pool. For teens, ask them to research the destination for attractions and activities they’d like to see and do, and incorporate these into your itinerary. Teens will begin to learn the art of travel planning, and often find items that you’ll love, too. 960 1280

JGI/Jamie Grill  

Plan a Vacation Within Your Vacation

Plan a Vacation Within Your Vacation

If you’re traveling with a teen who can babysit younger children, ask them before the trip if they’d like to make some cash by babysitting the hotel room while the adults go out for dinner and drinks in the hotel restaurant. Most teens are happy to make some money while they enjoy room service and surf the web as their siblings watch cartoons and make cushion forts, and you’ll get 2 hours to yourselves. And you’ll only be 5 minutes away if anyone needs you. Make sure and arrange this before you leave, so the teen doesn’t feel ambushed during the trip and can look forward to the extra spending cash. 960 1280

EpicStockMedia  

Newsflash: Teens Want Money

Newsflash: Teens Want Money

Teens want cash and time to spend it. Have them start saving for their trip in advance, but giving them a daily allowance while traveling and opportunities to shop gives them a sense of freedom, and teaches them about budgeting. They’ll gladly agree to every t-shirt you offer to buy them (then never wear), but when they’re spending their own money, a lot more critical thinking goes into play.    960 1280

JGI/Jamie Grill  

Let Your Teens Go

Let Your Teens Go

Your teens love you, but they want to go off by themselves, at least for a little bit. If they’re capable and you feel safe about your location, offering to let them have some alone time will score big points, and allow parents to do things with younger sibling that would bore teens to no end. Give teens a couple of hours to shop the area you’re in, or do activities by themselves such as surfing lessons or just hanging out by the pool. Agree on an easily found meeting place and time, and have your teen set an alarm for 30 minutes prior in case they lose track of time. Make sure they can recite where you’re staying, just in case. Online maps are great, but also provide them with a paper map from the front desk with your hotel circled as a backup. Letting your teen go off on their own in a new place is scary for parents but thrilling for teens, and the show of trust won’t go unappreciated. 960 1280

Muriel de Seze  

Less is More

Less is More

Kids – and adults – often over pack as a sort of security blanket to overcome the anxiety of leaving home. A favorite toy or other item is fine, but too many things only cause problems later on, and can get lost. Toddlers and younger kids should be able to carry their own backpacks, and parents need to think about what happens if they wind up having to carry the kiddoes and their luggage, especially through airports. If kids start packing their rock collection, explain to them that their things will be happier at home, and that extra space can be filled with souvenirs. For older kids who aren’t used to traveling, make sure they don’t try to pack hairdryers and the like if the hotel will have them. 960 1280

Westend61  

Divide and Conquer

Divide and Conquer

When traveling with young children, parents are never off the clock. But that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy time at the spa or playing golf while their partner spends time with the kids. Adults should figure out before hand if there’s something special they’d like to do, in addition to activities for the whole family. Having this set and priced before arrival makes sure everyone has something to look forward to. 960 1280

Little Palm Island  

Keep ‘em Fed

Keep ‘em Fed

Armies travel on their stomachs, and so do families. Be preemptive about hanger and keep snacks readily available in-between scheduled meals. Also, eating before the dinner rush will help ensure choice seating and faster service, and provide thinner crowds at attractions afterward. Getting dinner out of the way gets toddlers into bed at a decent hour, lets teens have down time, and may even give parents a few quiet moments.
960 1280

  

Nap Time

Nap Time

It’s tempting to cram as much as possible into a trip, but notch out some down time for the little ones back in the hotel room, if possible. It’ll let them recharge their small batteries while parents do the same, or enjoy some quiet together time enjoying the room and balcony they’re paying for. It also makes sense during the heat of the day. Teens, with their boundless energy, can use this time to explore on their own or hang out at the pool without their lame parents (we know you’re cool). 960 1280

Mykola Velychko  

Let Teens Ride Shotgun

Let Teens Ride Shotgun

Offering to let teens sit in the passenger seat while an adult sits in the back shows the teen the respect they want, and is fun for the little guys in back as they don’t often get to sit next to Mom or Dad. Having your teen ride up front is a great way to get their nose out of their phone and start a conversation, and they can learn the art of navigation as well. If your teen has their driver's license and you feel it’s safe, having them drive for a spell on a new road begins their vacation before you reach the hotel. 960 1280

kali9  

Anytime You’re All Together, Savor It

Anytime You’re All Together, Savor It

A few years ago my parents and my and my brother’s young families went to Disneyland. Between different nap schedules, melt downs and the laser focus of counting noses to make sure we didn’t lose anyone, little time was actually spent as a group. Our favorite photos were taken on the concierge lounge couch, when we could all be together, the kids were happily snacking, and the adults could actually have a conversation. Not that the park wasn’t fun and worthwhile, but just that down time of hanging out all together would have made the entire trip worthwhile. Anytime your whole family is together, make sure to enjoy it. 960 1280

Chris Futcher  

Photos

Consider Mobility and Health

Consider Mobility and Health

Many senior citizens don’t need a wheelchair in their everyday lives, but that doesn’t mean they can walk long distances or handle lots of stairs. Val Grubb, the founder of Travel with Aging Parents blog and the author of Planes, Canes, and Automobiles: Connecting with Your Aging Parents through Travel, has a lot of expertise in this area. For example, she emphasizes the importance of knowing a hotel layout in order to minimize the amount of walking between the room and other hotel amenities. If a wheelchair is required, she suggests arranging a dedicated wheelchair from the hotel beforehand. Otherwise, hotels typically provide a wheelchair to get to the room, but it’s not for exclusive use. Additionally, airlines and tourist attractions, such as museums and zoos, should also provide loaner or rental wheelchairs.

Be sensitive to any medical conditions, such as diabetes, since it involves its own set of procedures while traveling. Also remember that many seniors take medication with food, so a set meal schedule may be necessary. 
960 1280

ozgurdonmaz  

Make Sure Travel Insurance Includes Medical

Make Sure Travel Insurance Includes Medical

Some travel insurance plans only cover financial losses, and Medicare doesn’t cover overseas travel. Check the U.S. Department of State for a list of recommended medical providers. Be sure to choose one that includes medical evacuation, or medevac, in case of an emergency; that option could be cost-prohibitive if insurance doesn’t cover it. If traveling abroad, it’s also important to learn the generic name for any prescription medicines. Grubb says don’t assume other countries will know the U.S. brand name.   

The U.S. Department of State is also a good reference for general travel tips for seniors.
960 1280

vm  

Ask for Assistance

Ask for Assistance

Amtrak offers a Red Cap service where agents will carry luggage onto the train before everyone else boards. You can request wheelchair assistance when booking a flight reservation, and airlines will provide a wheelchair for use to the gate. Even if a wheelchair isn’t needed, consider requesting preboarding if extra assistance is needed getting to a seat.

Hotels will also provide special accommodations, from wheelchairs to ADA-compliant rooms. Grubb says hotels can even meet other needs, such as providing rubber sheets for those who are incontinent. Be sure to research and request as far in advance as possible.
960 1280

Pgiam  

Take Advantage of Senior Discounts

Take Advantage of Senior Discounts

AARP members can receive discounts on cruises, hotels, flights, and more. Even if you’re not a member, seniors are still eligible for discounts on Amtrak and Southwest Airlines, and at Marriott hotels; be sure to research ahead. 960 1280

Candice Cusack  

Choose Accessible Hotels Near the Action

Choose Accessible Hotels Near the Action

“Look for hotels that are close to where you want to be,” says Grubb. “Don’t fall under the allure of staying at cheap hotels, since they may not be in the center of the action, and you make up for it by taking cabs everywhere.” She also suggests booking American hotels abroad, such as Marriott, to ensure they’ll have ADA-compliant features like grab bars in the shower and elevators.

Grubb stresses the importance of speaking with a front desk manager before booking a non-ADA-compliant hotel in order to discuss whatever accommodations need to be met, such as needing a room close to the lobby. Grubb also advises asking if the hotel has a doctor on-site 24/7 for seniors with medical conditions.
960 1280

Alicia_Garcia  

Schedule Enough Downtime

Schedule Enough Downtime

Traveling is exhausting even if you’re young and fit. Allow for at least a day or two of downtime upon reaching your destination, especially when traveling long distances. However, downtime doesn’t end there. When sightseeing, Grubb advises to consider everyone’s pace. “We’re used to giving young children breaks, but we’re far less tolerant when our aging parents have the same needs.” As a rule of thumb, she suggests visiting a major site, then having a meal before visiting another site.

Frequent bathroom stops, such as every two hours, are also important for some seniors. Finally, Grubb says it’s ok to plan some activities to do on your own, as long as seniors are occupied—even if that's simply relaxing by the hotel pool. Arrange for staff to check on them if left alone for more than a short period.
960 1280

Jasmina007  

Allow Enough Time at the Airport

Allow Enough Time at the Airport

Grubb recommends getting to the airport at least two hours before domestic flights to allow for check-in, luggage, security, and getting to the gate. Take advantage of wheelchair assistance and preboarding. Familiarize yourself with TSA procedures and requirements. For example, those 75 and older aren’t required to remove shoes and light jackets. However, additional screening may be required for those with medical devices or implants.

Medications are another realm; while liquids must meet the 3-1-1 rule, exceptions are made for prescription liquids and creams. Medications should include the prescription and be in their original, labeled containers.
960 1280

Alexander Gatsenko  

Arrange for Childcare

Arrange for Childcare

Grubb says to discuss childcare in advance if you’re traveling with young children and elderly parents, instead of assuming that your parents will babysit. “It’s your parents vacation as well,” she says. Instead, research childcare options at the destination. 960 1280

Susan Chiang  

Pick a Destination with Activities for all Ages

Pick a Destination with Activities for all Ages

Grubb recommends cruises, all-inclusive resorts, or theme parks like Disney World for those who don’t have the time to research accessible options. For example, Disney World has electric wheelchairs, and it’s easy to get around if you stay on site. 960 1280

Dan Anderson / Contributor  

Don’t Feel Limited to Specific Locations

Don’t Feel Limited to Specific Locations

On the other hand, cruises, resorts, and theme parks aren’t the only option, and not everyone’s idea of a vacation. Grubb says she chooses a location based on where she and her mom want to visit, and then Googles accessibility options. For example, for an upcoming vacation in Florida, she’s researching beaches and resorts that offer beach wheelchairs. Grubb also arranges private car service in foreign cities that lack accessible public transportation or walkable streets.

“It isn’t as much hassle as you think and it’s well worth it,” says Grubb.
960 1280

Steven Frame  

Get Buy-In

Get Buy-In

Include your children­–even toddlers–in the trip planning and countdown so they have something to look forward to and aren’t completely surprised by a drastic change in their schedule. Even if kiddoes can’t understand the full concept of the trip, they can share in the excitement of an upcoming airplane ride or swimming pool. For teens, ask them to research the destination for attractions and activities they’d like to see and do, and incorporate these into your itinerary. Teens will begin to learn the art of travel planning, and often find items that you’ll love, too. 960 1280

JGI/Jamie Grill  

Plan a Vacation Within Your Vacation

Plan a Vacation Within Your Vacation

If you’re traveling with a teen who can babysit younger children, ask them before the trip if they’d like to make some cash by babysitting the hotel room while the adults go out for dinner and drinks in the hotel restaurant. Most teens are happy to make some money while they enjoy room service and surf the web as their siblings watch cartoons and make cushion forts, and you’ll get 2 hours to yourselves. And you’ll only be 5 minutes away if anyone needs you. Make sure and arrange this before you leave, so the teen doesn’t feel ambushed during the trip and can look forward to the extra spending cash. 960 1280

EpicStockMedia  

Newsflash: Teens Want Money

Newsflash: Teens Want Money

Teens want cash and time to spend it. Have them start saving for their trip in advance, but giving them a daily allowance while traveling and opportunities to shop gives them a sense of freedom, and teaches them about budgeting. They’ll gladly agree to every t-shirt you offer to buy them (then never wear), but when they’re spending their own money, a lot more critical thinking goes into play.    960 1280

JGI/Jamie Grill  

Let Your Teens Go

Let Your Teens Go

Your teens love you, but they want to go off by themselves, at least for a little bit. If they’re capable and you feel safe about your location, offering to let them have some alone time will score big points, and allow parents to do things with younger sibling that would bore teens to no end. Give teens a couple of hours to shop the area you’re in, or do activities by themselves such as surfing lessons or just hanging out by the pool. Agree on an easily found meeting place and time, and have your teen set an alarm for 30 minutes prior in case they lose track of time. Make sure they can recite where you’re staying, just in case. Online maps are great, but also provide them with a paper map from the front desk with your hotel circled as a backup. Letting your teen go off on their own in a new place is scary for parents but thrilling for teens, and the show of trust won’t go unappreciated. 960 1280

Muriel de Seze  

Less is More

Less is More

Kids – and adults – often over pack as a sort of security blanket to overcome the anxiety of leaving home. A favorite toy or other item is fine, but too many things only cause problems later on, and can get lost. Toddlers and younger kids should be able to carry their own backpacks, and parents need to think about what happens if they wind up having to carry the kiddoes and their luggage, especially through airports. If kids start packing their rock collection, explain to them that their things will be happier at home, and that extra space can be filled with souvenirs. For older kids who aren’t used to traveling, make sure they don’t try to pack hairdryers and the like if the hotel will have them. 960 1280

Westend61  

Divide and Conquer

Divide and Conquer

When traveling with young children, parents are never off the clock. But that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy time at the spa or playing golf while their partner spends time with the kids. Adults should figure out before hand if there’s something special they’d like to do, in addition to activities for the whole family. Having this set and priced before arrival makes sure everyone has something to look forward to. 960 1280

Little Palm Island  

Keep ‘em Fed

Keep ‘em Fed

Armies travel on their stomachs, and so do families. Be preemptive about hanger and keep snacks readily available in-between scheduled meals. Also, eating before the dinner rush will help ensure choice seating and faster service, and provide thinner crowds at attractions afterward. Getting dinner out of the way gets toddlers into bed at a decent hour, lets teens have down time, and may even give parents a few quiet moments.
960 1280

  

Nap Time

Nap Time

It’s tempting to cram as much as possible into a trip, but notch out some down time for the little ones back in the hotel room, if possible. It’ll let them recharge their small batteries while parents do the same, or enjoy some quiet together time enjoying the room and balcony they’re paying for. It also makes sense during the heat of the day. Teens, with their boundless energy, can use this time to explore on their own or hang out at the pool without their lame parents (we know you’re cool). 960 1280

Mykola Velychko  

Let Teens Ride Shotgun

Let Teens Ride Shotgun

Offering to let teens sit in the passenger seat while an adult sits in the back shows the teen the respect they want, and is fun for the little guys in back as they don’t often get to sit next to Mom or Dad. Having your teen ride up front is a great way to get their nose out of their phone and start a conversation, and they can learn the art of navigation as well. If your teen has their driver's license and you feel it’s safe, having them drive for a spell on a new road begins their vacation before you reach the hotel. 960 1280

kali9  

Anytime You’re All Together, Savor It

Anytime You’re All Together, Savor It

A few years ago my parents and my and my brother’s young families went to Disneyland. Between different nap schedules, melt downs and the laser focus of counting noses to make sure we didn’t lose anyone, little time was actually spent as a group. Our favorite photos were taken on the concierge lounge couch, when we could all be together, the kids were happily snacking, and the adults could actually have a conversation. Not that the park wasn’t fun and worthwhile, but just that down time of hanging out all together would have made the entire trip worthwhile. Anytime your whole family is together, make sure to enjoy it. 960 1280

Chris Futcher  

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