Travelling with parents can be a huge headache if you are the one planning as you have to keep everyone informed. Recently, there is an increase in intergenerational travelling, it does not have to be travelling with your kids but also can be with your parents. I listed down 10 things you might want to take note before bringing your parents overseas hoping to have a free and peaceful trip.
1. Always plan ahead
Always keep in mind that you are not alone and you have elderly with you. Plan everything ahead and you might need a plan B too, given that there might be some amendments during the trip. You have to plan thoroughly, especially if you are going to a country where there will be language barrier.
2. Important: Breaks
Put in toilet breaks, tea breaks or short breaks in between each sightseeing stop. Do not walk non stop with no break in between just because you don’t feel tired. Always bring them to the nearest toilet or pit stop and tell them to go even if they don’t have the urge because you will not know what will happen along the way eg. when you are halfway up the hill.
3. Choose your destination wisely
You can travel with your parents in any kind of trips, Cruise, package, staycation but going for a free and easy trip overseas will be a challenge.
First and foremost, which countries I find you can take into consideration when you want to bring your parents. Singapore top travel destination, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, the reason? Japan is known for its travel-friendly destination, however, you might face difficulties when it comes to their transportation and language.
How about Europe, America? This is not going to be in your free and easy list. I will suggest that you join a tour group or customised tour group.
3. Airline choice?
Flight duration will be the ultimate concern for older folks, a lot of elderly and parents prefer not to take a flight that requires more than 10 hours sitting in the plane.
When bringing the elderly and parents along, I will choose International airlines. Singapore Airline, ANA, KOREAN AIRLINES etc., because the seats will be more comfortable for them and meals are served, we do not need to think too much and most importantly they will be happy.
As for low-cost carrier, it depends on your destination, for example, you are flying to Kaohsiung from Singapore, Scoot is the only airline that flies there directly and the flight journey is not too long, but remember to manage their expectations before the trip.
What is considered a long duration for the elderly?
Any duration that needs more than 7 hours of flight.
In-flight food might not be important to you but it is important to them.
Flying off to Europe or places where you need more than 10 hours, direct or transit.
Do not try to save the penny and make your parents and elderly suffer, and most importantly you might face with ‘complains’ for the trip.
4. Where to stay?
Choose a hotel located near the train station or bus stop and most importantly, the accommodation has an elevator.
Especially in Japan, it is best to take note when staying in ryokan which needs to climb up the stairs and dim lights.
5. Take things slow
It is best to put in some buffer time and not to cramp more than 3 sightseeing spots in a day. You can start your trip a little late by including a proper breakfast time in your plan, do not make them go hungry. If time does not permit adding in a proper breakfast, be sure you are able to sneak in time to let them eat before you start your trip of the day.
If I am travelling with friends or solo, we can go without breakfast and just grab something from the convenient stores. But when you are with your parents or elderly, please do not do that. Let them have some decent breakfast to fill their stomach.
6. Give them “Me” Time
Give them some “Me” time, if you think that some places they prefer to shop on their own. For myself, I will give my parents some of their “me” time, around 2-3 hours inside a shopping mall. Always, let them know the time to gather and where to meet you if they get lost. Bring them to the place where you want them to meet you, best is at an easy to remember shop front or entrance. Example, LEVEL 1 in front of the Macdonald or Starbucks. Take a photo of the meeting place and send it to them for reference.
Every morning before the trip begins, always brief them on where will be the places you all will be visiting for the day. Do not assume that they already know as you have sent them an email or print out the itinerary, they won’t read it.
8. Food is important
Due to health concern, elderly and parents might have preferred choice of food. And these days, they can be quite fussy.
So, where should we bring them?
The ideal place would be a decent restaurant, no need to be expensive but decent, they will be happy if you can bring them to some small local restaurants. Try not to bring them to a cramp and stuffy place. Food wise they all love less oil and salt.
What is a no-no?
Restaurants that have no proper seats, some traditional restaurants in Japan only have tatami seats. Do suggest to the staff if you want to get a table seat. If no, you should inform your parents and elderly beforehand that they have to sit on the floor. They do not need to sit like the Japanese, they can sit comfortably and let them sit near the wall so that they are able to lean against it.
9. Bring the medicines
Fever, diarrhoea, stomachache, flu. Not forgetting their own medicine for Blood Pressure, Diabetes and High Cholesterol.
What I always bring along for myself and parents?
Paracetamol, charcoal, chlorpheniramine.
You can get the medicines over the counter or the medicine that is left over (take note of the expiry date) from the GP.
First aid kit is important. Plaster, antiseptic, etc.
10. What to wear?
If the trip will be full of walking and hiking, please inform your parents and elderly that there will be lots of walking. Remember to get them a pair of good shoes, pack poncho and hiking/walking stick (if required) along.
Temperature is the main concern, especially Singapore elderly, they are not used to overseas cold weather and do not know how to keep themselves warm. Teach them the correct way to wear layered clothing. Scarf, beannie and hand gloves would be recommended.
Internet connection might not be important to them. But it is important to you, not because you want to be connected, okay that’s one of the reason, but it is actually for us to contact them. Please teach your parents how to use Whatsapp, LINE or WeChat, if they are not using it.
Do not save this kind of money because you think that WIFI router or overseas data sim is expensive.