It is not unlike travelling with young children. The same rules apply. After raising two children and travelling with them to far off destinations, I have certified qualifications in this area.
Organisation is the key. I have spent more time on the research and the planning of this trip than I do on any other booking. I want it to run smoothly and be pre booked. But at the same time I want Dad to feel he is part of the decision making process, and feel as if it is still an adventure. Options I would normally choose if travelling alone, or with my family, are not options when travelling with Dad. Time is everything. Lots of it. For airports, and for elderly people, even with no mobility issues, a wheelchair can be a very good option. For solo elderly travellers, a wheelchair is a blessing. It takes the uncertainty out of the process.
I am watching a mother with two small children in the airport this morning. She has drinks, story books, food, cuddly rugs, and a lot of clever tricks up her sleeve to keep these two little people on track for the duration, and an endless supply of patience. I have the same. I have pre booked everything. I have ensured we are well watered and fed. Dad has reading material, as a laptop or a mobile phone is not an option. Technology is challenging and confusing. I have allowed plenty of time, no rushing, no panic. I let Dad believe he is part of the organization. I watch carefully, listen, and assist quietly. I explain the choices.
So far so good. We have been travelling less than 24hours. Only six days to go. I will keep you posted.
Travelling tips for solo or assisted elderly travellers:
Request wheelchair assistance for airports.
On planes request aisle seats in the middle block of seats for easy access to the toilets.
Spend two or three nights in each stop, or travel to one destination only and stay put.
Get foreign cash in advance so it is on hand when required.
Allow plenty of time in all situations. Connecting flights, getting to accommodation, staying at accommodation.
Be clear with instructions and check for understanding.
And the most sobering thing of all. Remember this will be you one day!