Hello everyone. I want to start a conversation about the intersection between health and multigenerational travel. This week the NYT published a really terrific article that provides practical tips on how to stay healthy while traveling. The tips range from preventative steps you can take before you leave for your trip such making sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Making sure to flex your legs, get up, and walk around during that plane, train, or automobile trip to prevent blood clots. And, tips related to things you can do when you are in the middle of your trip such as using bottled water to drink and brush your teeth and using sunscreen and insect repellent – just to name a few.
In addition to these excellent travel tips, I think it is really important for families to understand that a successful multigenerational trip doesn’t just start and stop at prevention. There are other health factors at play that can have a big impact on a trip such as mobility and chronic disease. Today, I’m going to focus on one of these health factors – mobility.
Take my father-in-law, Dan, who recently had knee surgery. While he enjoys traveling with family and friends, he thinks carefully about how he will travel, how he will get around during his trips, and what impact these choices will have on family and friends accompanying him.
In the year following his surgery, Dan had to contend with his recovery, rehabilitation, and a more limited range of mobility. In fact, after a grueling trip to Asheville that included 4 transfers (car and flight) over a period of 14 hours, he ended up canceling several other trips altogether.
Some of the greatest lessons Dan took away from this experience included: 1) He had to learn how to be willing to let others help him throughout his journey. 2) He had to learn how to accept that he is aging and his mobility has changed – which is not easy for someone who takes pride in being fiercely independent. 3) He had to learn how to communicate both his concerns and his needs with his family and friends as they traveled together.
Our lessons learned were equally as important: 1) We had to learn how to have a conversation about mobility. 2) We had to learn how to be empathetic and respond to Dan’s needs. 3) We had to learn how to plan and execute a trip that incorporates these needs.
While Dan still gets nervous about getting too far away from home and from his doctor, we have been able to find ways to make multigenerational travel work.
Thanks for stopping by today. Please come back and read more about our experiences with multigenerational travel.
Dorothy Hoffman is the creator of the travel blog, Squirts and Seniors. She is a Gen X-er who writes about traveling at home and abroad with her young son and aging parents.