We know you’ll agree it’s been a difficult couple of years. No doubt caring for your loved ones has been top of mind throughout the pandemic and now, as spring arrives, it seems we might finally be able to all breathe a little easier. Just as spring means the arrival of warmer weather and buds on the trees, so too does spring – for many of us – mean it’s time to get outdoors, enjoy the sun and perhaps even consider the possibility of some travel whether to a location not too far away or somewhere exciting, warm and full of tourists. If you’re 50+ and have teenagers, work and other responsibilities, it can be hard to add caring for a loved one to your busy life. That said, worry is something that knows no boundaries and even if you’re supporting a parent who’s in great shape and just itching to travel and enjoy retirement, it’s hard to turn “off” the worry gene. After two years of pandemic restrictions both here and around the world however, we know many a “senior,” or “mature adult,” (or as we like to call them – EngAgers) are ready to hit the open road! They are vaccinated and boosted and actively engaged in embracing their “second half.” Here are a few thoughts on how you can help your parents or loved ones to plan for travel safely and minimize your worry while they’re gone.
But First – What’s An EngAger?
Sometimes called “Boomers” your parents might be anywhere from 70-90 (or more) and maybe you feel like it’s their turn to “give YOU some gray hairs! My own Mom is approaching her late 70’s and might not be travelling to a foreign country anytime soon but on any given day I have no idea where she might be! She’s active, engaged and a part of her community, managing her day to day life and giving back even though she also has some health issues. So I’m a “caregiver” of sorts but also a worrier because she’s always texting me from new destination! In other words, she’s an “EngAger” a senior who is “just getting started,” making new friends and living life. At Amintro, many of our members are like my Mom or even more active, engaged and ready for adventure. It can be hard to keep track of an EngAger, especially when they start talking about making travel plans. If you think your parents are EngAged and you’re encouraging them but a little worried too, we have some advice for you!
Pros To Travelling Now
- It’s been two long years and your parents are ready! Maybe they have added some new adventures to their bucket list. Help them to travel safely with some of the tips and tools we’re suggesting below.
- We’ve had two years to learn how to travel safely, obtain vaccinations and learn ways to mitigate the risks of catching the virus.
- Many destinations have put a variety of new safety protocols in place to help put the travellers mind at ease.
- Your loved ones will never be more than a phone call, video, zoom or text message away because technology today allows us to stay in touch easily. It may even help you to help them plan their holiday! Just about everything they need to know is just a click away and if you’ve helped do the research, you’ll have Mom and Dad’s full itinerary and always know where they are!
No doubt at some point in your career, you’ve done some SMART planning or even SMART goal-setting. SMART is the acronym for creating Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely goals or plans. There’s no reason why this same acronym can’t apply to helping plan a “bucket list” vacation for your parents! Consider these tips for assistance with planning OR make sure you ask your loved ones before they embark, if they’ve taken all of these suggestions into consideration.
- S = Specific. Make sure you know where your parents are and all the pertinent details of their stay.
- Where do they want to go?
- How will they get there?
- Where will they stay?
- What will be they be doing and are they travelling alone or in a group?
- M = Measurable. It’s not likely they will be “measuring their success” but there will be an element of “measurement” we think. This might include:
- Calculating how much money you’re loved ones will actually need to reach their destination and whether to convert cash into local currencies?
- If they plan on driving, consider enrolling them in CAA or AAA so you know they’ll be taken care of in the event of an emergency. Then – obtain a Trip Tik to help plan how many kilometres or miles they’ll be able to drive in a typical day and where they will stay along the way? Depending on your parent’s technical savvy you can rely on an old school flip map provided by these organizations or on technology!
- Flying? Make sure you have all the flight details and information and that when they land, you know where they are headed. Ask if they will be walking, using public transportation or hiring cabs so you can keep tabs on them.
- A = Achievable or Attainable. Whichever word works for you, use it as an opportunity to have a chat with your parents about what makes sense for them. Everyone’s physical fitness level is different, even your Mum and Dad’s might differ from each other. Make sure they know what to expect while travelling, are physically “up” to the trip and that they have ready access to all their medications while travelling, walking or other mobility aids if needed or even whether they might want someone (like you!) to accompany them on the trip to assist them. If they are “fit as a fiddle” that’s great too but you might still want to remind them to plan for unexpected emergencies!
- R = Realistic. Ask them if they have thought about the “boring” stuff like what to do if they have an accident, injury or illness?
- Is there medical insurance coverage?
- Coverage for lost luggage?
- Where are all their important documents, banking information and papers stored at home in the unfortunate event they are needed?
- T = Timely.
- Have an open and honest conversation about whether this really is the best time to vacation. Perhaps your parents haven’t had a booster shot yet and you’d like them to get one before they leave. Timely conversations are important, not because it might be the “last time you ever speak,” rather it’s because you just want them to have the best time possible and return in good health. So ask the hard to ask questions. They are just as important as the easy ones!
We think anyone can apply this SMART planning principle to any adventure. Encourage your parents to use it, or show them how to apply SMART goal setting to their own planning process. If you do this together, you’ll be secure in the knowledge that you’ve investigated the process thoroughly, they are in good physical shape or you’ won’t have to worry about them while they are gone! Help your parents to be “EngAgers,” people who are in denial of getting old – and ready to embrace life’s next big adventure.
Get started with SMART planning for spring travel adventures. If you’d feel better about a loved one travelling with a friend or even as part of a group encourage them to consider using Amintro to help find new those friends who share the same hobbies and bucket list goals as they do. One of the things you can count on with Amintro is our free, easy to use app that helps match like-minded EngAgers with similar interests; friends your parents may even eventually decide to travel with!