My previous post discussed the planning required for bringing any medications or medical devices your parent might need during your trip. Once the medical-related items are squared away, though, the rest of packing is a relative breeze. Just remember the rule of thumb for packing clothes, toiletries, and related items for any trip: keep it simple!

Keep in mind that you and your parent will have to carry, pull, or lift your luggage at least part of the time on your trip, so don’t make the mistake of packing more than you can handle—or more than you’ll use. Many experienced travelers offer this hard-earned advice: “Lay out on your bed all the clothes you think you’ll need for your upcoming trip. Then put half of them back in the closet.” If you’ll be staying in hotels with laundry facilities, you may need even fewer outfits than that!

If possible, pack everything in a wheeled bag with an extendable handle. This type of suitcase is easiest for Mom or Dad to transport on the trip. If your parent needs a second bag, choose a small one that fits neatly on top of the bigger suitcase.

The items Mom or Dad needs depend on the type of trip you’re taking, of course. Your parent may want to bring sturdy boots for a walking tour in the mountains of Nepal, for example, a sun hat for lounging on a Hawaiian beach, or formal attire for an evening at the Paris Opera. Chances are, though, that you and your parent will be spending most of your time in casual, everyday dress, exploring your destination. For those days, you may want to consider bringing the following clothes and basic items:

  • A light sweater and a jacket. Layers are the key to feeling comfortable in a wide range of temperatures. Light layers can be tied around a waist or stuffed into a bag when not in use.
  • Two pairs of comfortable walking shoes, along with plenty of socks.
  • If your parent wears glasses, an extra pair. Just like keys, glasses are the sort of thing for which spares are always a good idea! (Bring paper and electronic copies of the glasses prescription, too, just in case.)
  • If your parent uses a hearing aid, extra batteries.
  • A magnifying glass and pen light for reading the small print on maps, bus schedules, menus, and tourist brochures.
  • Toothpaste or denture cream, as well as a travel toothbrush.
  • A day-trip bag for excursions. This could be a backpack, a messenger-style bag, a tote bag, or even just a small purse—whatever Mom or Dad needs to keep essentials close at hand during outings.
  • A small umbrella that fits easily fit into your parent’s day-trip bag. It’s also a good idea to carry an extra plastic bag or two with this, so that a wet umbrella can be easily stowed when the sun comes back out.
  • Snacks, water, and entertainment (e.g., reading material, playing cards, media players) for the journey. These items go in the carry-on bag, and although they aren’t quite as essential as medicines, they are pretty valuable for making a long plane ride more enjoyable! Liquids in amounts over 3.4 four ounces aren’t permitted through security, so either plan to purchase water at an airport shop or bring an empty bottle and fill it up for free at a water fountain near the boarding gate.

Ready, Set, Go!

The information presented here is a jumping-off point for you and your parent to develop your own packing lists. You’ll need to figure out the specifics of your own plan based on Mom or Dad’s medical needs, your destination, your transportation, and the activities you’re planning for your trip.

To get started, consider asking your parent to start writing a packing list on a piece of paper, then review it together periodically in the months and weeks leading up to your trip. If Mom or Dad is pretty tech savvy, you could work on the lists together via a shared online document or spreadsheet.

Sometimes these sorts of trip preparations can feel overwhelming, so be ready to step in and lend your parent a hand if he or she needs help. Arranging directly with your parent’s doctors and caregivers to get the lists of emergency contacts, prescriptions, and other pertinent information can take one task off Mom or Dad’s plate. If you don’t live near your parent and he or she needs someone to help with the actual packing, consider enlisting the help of a home care aide.

Working together, you and your parent can figure out what items you need to bring on your trip (and what items you can leave at home). Careful planning will make the trip go smoothly so can you both enjoy your time together.

Bon voyage!