Traveling with an older parent necessitates your being available to them 24/7. Request rooms next to each other if possible. It used to be that once mom went to sleep, I didn’t hear from her again until morning. Where our rooms were located didn’t matter. But now that she’s in her late 80s, it’s a whole new ballgame. I need to be accessible whenever.

On a recent trip, mom didn’t sleep because she was cold and couldn’t figure out how to turn up the heat. If we were in a large hotel with a 24-hour front desk, this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, we were in a guesthouse (a very beautiful and luxurious one). Of course there was a buzzer at the front desk, so if need be, you could summon the owner. However, mom didn’t want to wake anyone up from their sleep. There was also a phone in her room, but since there wasn’t a 24-hour operator, and mom didn’t know my room number (to dial direct), she didn’t know how to reach me.

All of this resulted in a very cranky mom the next day! This was the first trip mom had needed any late night help. Now I have to be more proactive about our hotel room arrangements.

When making reservations, request either adjoining rooms or rooms close by. If this isn’t possible, be sure that you and your parent have figured out how to stay in touch. If there is a phone in the room, make sure they know how to use it. Can you dial each other’s rooms directly? Ensure that your parent knows your room number or write it down for them and leave it on the nightstand. Another option is to use cell phones. Be sure to either have an international calling plan or buy a SIM card. Although even if you have cell phones, it’s a good idea to know how to use the hotel phone. There might be poor cell reception, dead batteries, etc.

You may even want to have an extra key to your parent’s room. Mom gave me quite the fright one time when she wasn’t answering my knock. Thankfully, it ended up simply being an instance of her wearing earplugs and having taken a sleeping pill.

Before your parent retires for the night, do a quick check that they have everything they need. Do they need an extra pillow or blanket? Are there enough towels and of the size they like? Is the temperature of their room okay? Do they need a nightlight in the bathroom? Do they need a glass of water? Do they need a glass for their toothbrush? Is there any furniture they could trip over? These are just some ideas. Think of your parent’s typical needs and be proactive.

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