I’ve been so blessed to have gone traveling with elders, mostly relatives. Here’s a few ideas on enjoying inter-generational traveling more:
Recognize your different driving or traveling styles: On a road trip with my 84 year old Aunt, I discovered that she was a ‘grin and bear it’ driver – only stopping for the absolutely necessary rest stop. My style is more adventurous – if something looks interesting or I need to stretch my legs, I stop. We compromised and it enhanced the trip for both of us.
Adjust your comfort zone: My Aunt will never drive at night, so at twilight I always made sure I was rested enough to drive comfortably.
Stay flexible: Traveling is always an adventure. Often it’s harder to be flexible as you get older. The familiar seems safer. So, when traveling with elders or family, recognize that and if, perhaps, they want to stop at a Denny’s while you never eat there, stop and sit with them at least. Eat something you like later or compromise again and stop at a buffet restaurant or the deli counter at a grocery store.
Don’t assume: My father was a strong, proud and self-reliant man. On my last road trip with him, I stepped out to the car and handed him the keys. He just said, ‘ You drive’ and I realized that at that point in his life (83 with congestive heart failure) he was more comfortable with that arrangement (and truthfully, so was I). The point is, communicate. Be specific and don’t take things personally.
Take your time: Traveling with elders may mean taking more time to get from place to place. Don’t rush them. Everyone will be happier in the long run. If you need to run into a store to get something, and there’s really not a lot of time to do that before catching the bus or train or plane, communicate that and find someplace for them to wait comfortably, while you do. Chances are they don’t want to cramp your style either!
Take care of yourself: I do Yoga and take walks daily. It’s my pressure release valve. When traveling with elders, it’s often harder to arrange time to do that. I used to find alternative activities for my parents while I took a walk. They would watch a TV show in the hotel room, stop for an ice cream, take a nap in the car, etc. I made sure they had their cell phone nearby if they needed to reach me. If you take care of your needs first, again communicating that there’s nothing wrong but you need to do this, then you’ll have more energy and patience for the adventure together.
Hope that helps. What strategies do you use when traveling with elders, young or young at heart?
With a rolling namaste, Elaine Masters, RYT