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The holidays are a time for friends and family. For many of us, that means traveling to see loved ones that don’t live nearby. If you’re caring for an elderly person or someone with a medical condition, you may be wondering how to best prepare for a safe road trip or flight. Here are a few tips to help make travel with your loved one as smooth and safe as possible.

Tips for Before You Depart

Plan Ahead

The first step is to plan ahead. If you’re driving, map out your route and make sure to take into account any rest stops or overnight stays. If you’re flying, give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and go through security. Arrange any additional transportation (such as rental cars, taxis, etc.) ahead of time where possible to make your journey as hiccup-free as it can be.

Communicate With Your Loved One

Before you hit the road or board the plane, have a conversation with your loved one about what to expect during the trip. This will help them feel more comfortable and less anxious about the journey. If they have any questions or concerns, address them openly and honestly.

Be Flexible

No matter how well you plan, there’s always a chance that something could go wrong. Be prepared for delays by packing snacks and drinks, and bringing along any entertainment such as books, magazines, or portable games. And if your loved one starts to feel tired or uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to take a break. The most important thing is that everyone arrives safe and sound at your final destination.

Tips for a Safe Journey

Keep Essential Medication or Equipment (like a CPAP machine) in Carry-On Luggage

When flying to visit friends or family, it’s tempting to put anything that may get you flagged for a closer look when passing through security, (like medication), into your checked bag. But in the event your bag is lost or delayed, you will be stuck without that medication. It’s important to carry anything essential with you so you avoid this scenario.

Pack Snacks and Water (Bottles)

Whether or not your loved one is diabetic, we can all suffer from energy spikes and dips. Travel fatigue is very real, and as you probably recognize, energy dips can sour anyone’s mood. This negativity can be much more impactful on top of what is already a stressful activity (travel). To avoid the worst of it, have some sweets (like cookies or energy bars) or high-energy snacks (like nuts, dried fruit, an apple, or seeds) in your backpack. While airport security won’t allow a full water bottle, they will allow empty ones. Most airports have drinking fountains once you’re through security, so pack an empty water bottle to refill on the other side to maintain hydration.
Note: For flights, you may need to pull snacks out of your bag to let security inspect them, but they should be allowed through. 

Map Out Your Journey

There’s nothing worse than realizing your gas tank is low or your loved one needs to use the restroom while you’re on a stretch of highway dozens of miles from the next stop. Avoid getting caught in a pickle by taking a look at the map ahead of time. This will help you see and strategically plan your stops so you can pull off and fuel up before a long stretch.

Pack an Emergency Kit

Breakdowns happen. Even cars that have recently passed inspection or had a tune-up can hit a nail or overheat. To ensure you’re prepared for whatever the road throws your way, pack an emergency kit with things like blankets, flashlights, snacks, water, and power banks for your phone so you can wait for rescue safely, even in cold or dark temperatures.

Closing Thoughts

Traveling during the holidays can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. By following these tips and being prepared for anything, you can ensure that your road trip or flight with your loved one is safe and enjoyable for everyone involved. Happy travels!

If you’re providing care to a loved one, we invite you to check out our free resources. To get more information about the resources we have available to you as a California caregiver, contact us at the California Caregiver Resource Center nearest to you or join CareNav for free today.

Further Reading: Getting Paid to Provide Care for a Loved One

If you are a caregiver, we recommend you check out our article about getting paid to be a caregiver in California next. Becoming a caregiver is both physically and mentally difficult, and expensive. The state of California offers several paths for at least partial compensation or subsidized assistance, so click here to learn more about how to get paid to be a caregiver.

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