Travel Easy - Finding Time to Travel as a Pet Owner, Parent, or Caregiver
It isn’t easy to find time to travel when you have people or pets that rely on you. But it isn’t impossible. You may need to get a little creative in finding time to travel either to take a break from being a caregiver, or finding time to travel with your loved ones. Whether you want to make plans to take a vacation or break from those that rely on you, or if you want to take them along, we’ve rounded up a list of ideas to help you travel more and make travel easier.
Become a Local Tourist
Traveling only to places that are within a few hours of your home can be a rewarding experience. We've met many travelers who can't tell you much about where they come from. It's not that they moved away when they were young, it's that they lived there for 20, 30, or 40 years and always thought they could do that any time they wanted, but never got around to it. If you do start exploring your local area, you may gain some valuable insight that not many people have - even if you think they would. Additionally, you don't have to be far away from your responsibilities for this to work! You can visit local museums and parks, go to a neighborhood market, check out seasonal festivals, or take a walking tour of your nearby town or city. Take the time to check out a new or new-to-you restaurant or bar. If you become a local expert, you may be able to generate some extra travel funds as well – which leads to our next section.
Earn Some Side Income
As it turns out, google has a thing for Local Travel Experts, and all it takes is spending time to familiarize yourself with all the things that are around where you live. So, this could be a perfect fit. As you add reviews, photos, and new locations to your Google Local Guides account, you'll begin to level up and earn special travel perks. You could sign up for other review sites to earn credibility during your local adventures as well, such as TripAdvisor or Yelp. The more you travel and write reviews the higher your ranking at each site will be and the more you'll be looked at as a serious local tourist.
Additionally, by doing this, you'll be recognized by some of the paid services as well. Once you have a bit of credibility, or even before you get started with Google Local Guides, you might want to check out some local tour guide services like ToursByLocals, Vayable Insider, Shiroube, Mazee, RentALocalFriend, or RentAFriend where you could sign up and start earning cash to give local guided tours. If you have to keep travel local because of your responsibilities, why not earn some extra money while doing it! You can use the extra income to help reduce your caregiver costs or even to help you pay for actual vacations in the future!
Travel with your Children or Pets
Your traveling days don’t have to end just because you’ve had kids. It might make travel a little more challenging to plan, but it is definitely doable!
Use parental leave time to travel. Some families have used their parental leave time to take that world trip they had always been planning. Certain countries give extended parental leave (some up to 1 year!), but others may only give up to 6 weeks. If you're healthy and able to travel, you can take advantage of the time off to travel with your new baby.
Since your children are not in school yet, you can take advantage of traveling during the off-season. Prices for transportation and accommodations are usually cheaper, and popular tourist destinations are less crowded. Since you won't have to fight the crowds, you'll most likely have more time to spend at each attraction.
Utilize summers, weekends, and holidays – There are only 18 summers with your child. Use that time to travel together.
Most traditional schools would not condone taking kids out of school during the school year, but travel is a great teacher as well. If you don't feel comfortable with your children missing classes, see the next option below.
Consider homeschooling/world-schooling your children. You'll get to decide when their school breaks are, and they could also continue their school work while traveling.
Extend school/club/sports trips. If you and your children are already traveling with their sports team, scouts troop, theatre club, etc., add on a few days before and/or after to explore the area as a family.
Some people can’t find time to travel because they need to take care of their pets. If you’re able to take your pet with you, here are some considerations.
Get your pet used to their (airline/train-approved) pet carrier.
Make sure your accommodations are pet-friendly.
Check with your vet to make sure your pet is healthy enough for the trip.
Bring medical records and any other forms/documentation that may be required.
Research kennels/pet daycares at your trip location ahead of time if you’ll need them.
Travel with an Elderly Parent
Before You Travel
Travel insurance with medical coverage is an absolute necessity
Involve your parent in the decisions. Incorporate their ideas into the planning and keep their priorities in mind.
Picking a Destination
Choose a location that fits everyone’s needs. How healthy is your parent? How active are they? This should be a primary factor for your destination decision. Consider the type of terrain they'll need to be walking on. Tours and cruises are usually designed for guests of all ages.
Look for a location where you can split up on occasion and pursue your different interests. Plan to have breakfast and dinner together if possible. You don’t have to do everything together.
Consider booking private rooms so that you can both have time on occasion. Your parents room may need to be on the ground floor if there's no elevator. If you can't book separate rooms, find a spot nearby that you could go to give your parent some private time if necessary. If your parent has a wheelchair, make sure your accommodations are wheelchair friendly.
Get travel clearance and a statement from your parent's doctor specifying conditions your parent has that could trigger airport security alarms at airports (implants are common).
Pack a little more medication than is required, in case delays occur. Keep them in their original pill bottles with the prescription label clearly visible. Set alarms on your phone as reminders on when to take them, especially if you're crossing multiple time zones.
Check in advance for local hospitals at your destination and plan for dietary restrictions.
Make adjustments as necessary to accommodate your parents if they have difficulty hearing, or have vision problems or mobility issues.
Keep all insurance, emergency numbers, and medical information on you - or your carry on luggage - at all times.
Elderly Friendly Itinerary
Put more active activities in the morning and try to finish them up by noon - but make sure everything can be done at a leisurely pace - no rushing! You can plan some additional active things for yourself in the afternoon while planning for more relaxed activities for your parents. It's best if their activities finish up a bit earlier. Even if they agree with this setup, have backup plans just in case they change their minds.
The best travel plan is to get a daytime flight that has the most direct route and the shortest travel time.
Airplanes, trains, and buses usually have a disabled traveler’s section. Call ahead to take advantage of these spots. Additionally, they typically offer senior discount fares as well.
Discuss the plans with your parent(s), including who is expecting to pay for which items, and make sure that you both agree on the itinerary.
Traveling with parents is a gift that you will be grateful for for the rest of your life. It may be a bit more complicated when they are elderly, but it's a very rewarding experience that your children may one day share with you!
You can find more useful information on the blog Travel with Aging Parents.
Weekend Getaways by hiring a Sitter and/or Caregiver
For your children or pets
If you need or just want to travel without your pets and/or children, find a sitter. Asking family or friends is a great place to start, but there are also sitter services.
Ask sitter for references
Leave detailed notes/instructions along with emergency contact info
Do a trial run
For your Elderly Parents
The best option is to get another family member involved who is capable of coming over to your parents home to help. If that is not possible, check with your parent's daytime caregiver to see if they are willing to stay over while you are traveling for additional pay. If your parent requires a greater level of service, try hiring a home care aide. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice has a list of thousands of home care and hospice facilities that provide these services in-home. Live-in aides typically charge from $140-$200 per day, or $15-$25 per hour.
If you cannot find in-home care for your parent, there are other options. Respite services can be found on a short-term basis at many nursing homes, rehab facilities, assisted-living residences, and senior communities. These services could accommodate your trip from as little as a couple days to several weeks and provide a wide rage of care. Respite services typically charge from $100 to $250 a night. If licensed medical staff is involved, insurance may even cover part of the cost. Check each location to see if your parent qualifies for a reduction in cost based on Medicaid, state agency funding, foundation grants, or even veterans' benefits.
Travel Solo or with Friends
Sometimes the best way to find time to travel is by splitting time with your significant other. Many people that we know make a deal with their spouse to look after their children, pets, or elderly parents so that they can take a break and travel. Usually, this means that one of the two will round up their friends and travel with them while the other will stay at home to be the solo caregiver for a short period of time. Now, to be clear, this is NOT the same as taking a vacation FROM your spouse. It works best if you are in a trusting, safe, and secure relationship.
Separate vacations do allow for both of you to get a break from the care giving activities that you have to refresh yourself - something that could help you clear your mind and be a better caregiver once you return. It allows you both the ability to travel, even if it is at different times. It could also allow you to try things that your spouse may not enjoy doing when you are on vacation together. Going with friends that enjoy doing these things with you can help strengthen your bonds with them as well. If this is the option that you choose, please be respectful of your spouse and considerate to where you are going and who you are going with. The location and friends should be conductive to a happy relationship. If done correctly, "absence can make the heart grow fonder." Additionally, if you have children, it sets a great example for them that romantic relationships can work with independence and trust while at the same time giving you both the travel time that you need.
How Fellow Travelers Are Finding Time
"If it’s your passion, you plan for it and do it. My husband and I have two kids (13 and 6) and they LOVE to travel—we recently did Iceland in 2016, Belgium and France in 2017, and are doing Hawaii and Japan in 2019. We have pets at home and hire a house/pet sitter. Our parents are aging but we have siblings to help." - Devonn W.
"I used to leave my doggie in a pet hotel but now that Im living close to my mum, I asked my mum to care for him when Im on vacation. I feel confident and at ease knowing he's in good hands😊🐶" - Jelai C.
"Luckily my son and daughter in law look in on our kitty when we travel." - Colleen S.
"I take my children with me. Pets I find a sitter usually neighbor next door." - Candace D.
"Kids join, and pets are taken care off..." - Anique W.
"I have a pet, but I have someone to leave it to, and I travel for like a weekend, or 3 nights maximum when I travel alone." - Мюжи М.
"I have a neighbor take care of the pets. Care.com has a lot of helpful tips, too." - Dana C.
"Kid travels with us, pets stay with the neighbours/friends!" - Maria N.
"Pets? Use house sitters ...it's easier than putting pets in kennels. As for the kids, I agree...it is hard but take them with you...you'll find that people will usually bend over backwards to be more helpful." - Joyce M.
"For pets there’s an amazing website called “TrustedHousesitter”. I’ve been a member and I could attest a great review. And for the kids perhaps bring them along w you. Read blogs and get tips, be strict w the rules when you travel w them." - Sher H.
"I took my kiddos with me. Now they are grown I take my fur babies with me. There are a million places I haven't seen yet so I choose places they can go too. 😉" - Chichi M.
"Have older kids watch others and pets." - Debbie L.
"Pet sitter for the pets." - Linda B.
"I could never afford to travel when mine was growing up. Broke my heart the ex in-laws were the ones to take him to Disney World while I worked numerous jobs to take care of him. But he is on his own now, so it's time for me and I am making the most of it. I can leave the parrot and turtles for a week and the dog goes to stay with my relatives." - Karen R.
"Life circumstances allowed me to move abroad. We have no children, just one cat that is still here with us. My mum has a good network of friends, a good partner, and my two brothers who look after my mum extremely well in my absence. I chat to her regularly and have been back to the UK to visit her, which eases my worry about her massively. I moved away with her blessing, as she knew I always wanted to travel when I finally could, and would never want to hold me back. But she also knows I'm only in Europe, so only a 3 hour flight back to the UK if need be. Probably not quite the answer you were looking for, but everyone's travel experiences are different." - Janice H.
"I cared for my brother until he passed away then ran out the door before my self sufficient children had babies and while my parents are still healthy. I’m 4 months into a years travel around the world. For me, it was timing 😁" - Sabina S.
"A dog, elderly parents, full time job and mortgage 😂 I take a few trips a year, 2 weeks max atm and then make the most of weekends and bank holidays. It's about balance, it's not easy but it's important to look after yourself too 😊 part of that for me is going travelling x" - Hannah P.
"Friends and family! Im grateful I've always had their support to live my dreams! I don't have kids but a good friend stayed at my place several times while I'd be gone for weeks travelling! And when I do have kids, I know my mom and sister (surprisingly, probably my brother too!) Would all pitch in to let me and hubby have alone time if it wasn't a family trip." - Michelle W.
"I did a combination of homeschooling, online schooling, and unschooling my children. They know in part up to 7 languages and are young seasoned travelers." - Julia R.
"No kids. My cat and dog either travel with me or enjoy a holiday of their own with my mother (which they both love because the house is huge plus she spoils them rotten)." - Rita F.
"Mine are 18 and 21 now but when they were younger I would take a week or so off work a couple of times a year and go where ever I fancied, often by myself but sometimes with a friend. My husband looked after them. He is more than capable of getting them to school, feeding them, making sure homework was done and cleaning. We still had plenty of time for family holidays and weekends away." - Amanda C.