The great American road trip is a time-honored tradition that endures to this day. Even when it seems you can’t go anywhere or do anything, you can always hop in the car and go for a drive. It’s not really about the destination; it’s about the journey. Road-tripping with your buddies is a blast on wheels and doing the same with your parents is a whole different animal. You’re not going to have the same experience. That’s not to say it won’t be fun, but it’ll be a different kind of fun. To better prepare, we have some tips for taking a road trip with aging parents.
Plan to Make Several Stops
Old people need to use the bathroom—a lot. It’s not an attempt to annoy you or slow down the trip. It’s just the way it is. In the grand scheme of things, it was decided that elderly people will use the toilet often throughout the day. Know that going into the trip and don’t make a big deal out of it. Use the bathroom-break time to fill up on gas or grab some snacks and stretch your legs.
Secure a Comfortable Car
Your Mustang might be a sweet ride and great for a Saturday night with the guys, but it’s not ideal for a road trip. If you don’t have a car that is easy to get in and out of, find one and either rent it or borrow it. Getting into a sports car for anyone over 60 is like sitting on the floor, and forget about getting them in the back seat. Get something that sits higher off the ground that is easy to slide in and out of. A nice, smooth ride is what matters most.
Reconnect on the Trip
This is the best tip for taking a road trip with aging parents. Take the time to reconnect and have fun. Play the old-school road trip games like “I spy” and talk to each other. There’s no expectation that there will be endless conversation for eight hours, but avoid turning on any screens. Enjoy the ride together and catch up because those times are few and far between.
If there are medical considerations, make sure to plan for those. Secure a handicapped parking pass if need be. Be sure to leave room in the car for a wheelchair, walker, or any medical devices they might need. They are not optional, so if it means you must leave your cooler behind, then so be it.
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