Taking a cross-country or long distance road trip is something everyone has thought about doing once in their life. As a caregiver, you have the ability to organize a road trip for you and your parents. Not only does a road trip provide an adventurous opportunity for you as a caregiver and child, it also gives your parents the chance to get out of the house, take a break from growing older, and see all that the United States has to offer. Now that you’ve taken on the role of caregiver, or are simply more involved in your elderly parents’ lives, you have the perfect opportunity to spend more time with them.
As you’ve grown, you’ve acquired more lifetime experience. You have so much more to relate to your parents over – raising kids, careers, owning a home…growing older. Use this road trip as an opportunity to get to know your parents better. They’ll appreciate that you took the time to plan something with them and a vacation gives you plenty of alone time. Now, the ultimate road trip is going to be different for everyone involved, so planning is key.
Planning the Ultimate Road Trip with Your Parents
Traveling with seniors can be a little difficult. You have medications to manage, medical conditions to monitor, and potentially equipment like wheelchairs to haul. you’ll also want to find places they want to visit just as much as you. But don’t worry, we have figured out some ways to help plan your best road trip with your elderly parents.
The first step to your ultimate road vacation is to ask as many questions beforehand as possible. The first questions being- “Who is going?” If you have a spouse or children of your own, this can mean including them or making plans for them if you decide to go alone with your elderly parents. This step also includes setting the duration of the trip, how many stops you need to make along the way, who will drive and for how long. Setting aside the proper amount of money is also another main goal in this step. On one end you don’t want to carry too much, but on the other hand, no one wants to be stranded without cash. Keep an emergency stash.
Plan Activities Ahead of Time
It’s a fair statement that no one likes wasting time deciding where to eat. Or rest. Or have any type of activity anywhere. There’s fear of making the wrong decision and having everyone upset the rest of the trip. Sit down with your parents and whoever else is involved beforehand and take down their top restaurants and activities and include your own. And if it comes down to a coin toss later on, just make the decision for everyone. There is no sense wasting fun time deciding between a McDonalds or Burger King. If you happen to make an unpopular decision, shrug it off. Through the good and bad, the road trip with elderly parents will be memorable.
If you have very elderly parents or extremely particular parents, maintain a sense of stability for them. This can take the shape of their favorite restaurant or even music in the car. If they eat at Denny’s three times a week or listen to the same Elvis cd every day, let them eat pancakes and sing like a hound dog. While this may not be your favorite part of the road trip, it will help your parents feel comfortable while traveling. No one can fully enjoy a vacation when anxiety is involved. Plus, sticking to their routines will give you a glimpse into their favorites parts of the day.
Allow Extra Time During Stops
As you grow older, your body begins to slow down. And then you slow down and you might walk a little slower and need extra time getting to your destination. During your visit to the World’s Larget Ball of Twine or Tallest Peanut (yes these are real things), let your parents take their time getting around. They may not have an opportunity like this again, so give them all the time they need to read every sign and pick up every pamphlet.
Make Proper Accommodations
This step is crucial. You don’t want to end up sleeping in the bathtub of your hotel because you feel weird sleeping in the bed next to mom and dad. It may have been fine as a kid, but you’re all adults now and need your own space. There are ways of finding cheap adjoining hotel rooms that allow you to check on your parents, but not be roommates. And speaking of space. Remember all the medications and medical equipment we talked about earlier? That plus luggage and snacks are going to take up a lot of space. And no one wants to sit in the back next to a wheelchair. Budget for a larger rental car if you don’t already own one. You and your parents will appreciate the size, trust me.
Take as Many Photos as You Can
Lastly, the most important, ultimate, critical, necessary (seriously I can’t stress this enough) – take as many photos as you possibly can. Borrow a camera, use your phones, bring extra batteries and chargers and capture every boring, funny, annoying, unhappy and happy moment you can. Don’t be afraid to approach other tourists to ask for a group photo. You may not get the chance to do something like this with your parents again, so don’t hesitate to have a selfie or a candid of mom and dad. Not to mention, you’ll look like the number one child handing over a scrapbook or photo album for Christmas or an anniversary.