Planes, Canes, and Automobiles - Connecting with Your Aging Parents through Travel
By Valerie M. Grubb
Reviewed by Mike Keenan, What Travel Writers Say
Remember the 1987 movie, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, featuring Steve Martin and John Candy on a hilarious, three-day odyssey from New York City to Chicago? Well, this timely book omits trains and inserts canes.
Mark Twain observed, "I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them." Imagine travelling then - with your aging parents!
With that in mind, after reading Valerie Grubb's book, all I can say is - Wow! This is an incredible resource! She has carefully analyzed every aspect of traveling with elders, and her book provides one with a step-by-step plan to carefully organize such a trip. In the back of the book, she lists a host of valuable links to even more information mentioned throughout the already informative chapters. This lady had done her homework.
On the back cover of the book, this statement looms in large print - If The Thought Of Vacationing With Your Parents Makes You Cringe, Fear No More! Help Is Here! And she delivers - with chapters on understanding the nature of change related to aging, picking simple destinations, efficient packing, health issues, and even the testy area of interpersonal relationships.
Grubb comes by the travel itch honestly starting at the tender age of four with her dad as a pilot. After he passed away, she and her mom shared their first overseas vacation more than 20 years ago, and since then, they have expanded their travel, visiting such far-flung destinations as Thailand, France, Australia, China, and Cambodia.
Because there was a lack of resources available at the start, Valerie studiously became a doctor, psychiatrist, social worker and travel expert to pen her own informative book. And with Boomers rapidly aging, more and more adults will be bringing parents on vacation with them - however, organizing such a venture can be a big problem.
Valerie uses the example of traveling with her mother to illustrate the ups and downs of inter-generational travel. Through their exploits, besides humor, a necessary prerequisite, she provides practical advice, amusing anecdotes, and tales of success and woe to help everyone plan their own family vacation and effectively deal with problems that may arise. She offers specific advice and how-to tips on every potential issue involved in travel.
I breezed through the book and enjoyed the comments and suggestions elicited from others. Grubb illustrates through her own success that traveling can create stronger bonds between you and your parents in ways that no number of phone calls and emails can ever equal. She suggests how to pick a vacation spot all ages and interests can enjoy; the best ways to manage medical issues and crises while on vacation; tips for traveling with your parents after their physical and mental capabilities begin to falter; techniques for "letting go" of the emotional baggage from your childhood and enjoying your time away together.
An important issue for her is that you should never treat your parents as children in this process, even when you're the prime decision maker. And because elderly parents get easily tired, she examines how to build downtime into schedule regardless of how busy you are.
The book is comprehensive. It includes proposed schedules, notes on meds and just about everything one can think of regarding travel with elders. Amazing!
Grubb explains that Planes, Canes, and Automobiles grew out of the success of her blog, Travel with Aging Parents, launched in 2013. Her impetus for the blog came in late 2012 when planning a trip to Australia, and she realized her mom's capabilities had changed. Despite the fact that she wanted to climb the Sydney bridge, she now needed a wheelchair and was afraid to travel alone even on short flights. Grubb looked for suggestions to handle these changes, and after much research, was struck by the lack of material to help people plan vacations with an aging friend or family member.
Thanks to her, that's all been changed! I highly recommend this book.
Mike Keenan -
Besides writing for the five Niagara Postmedia newspapers, Mike has been published in every major newspaper across Canada including the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Toronto Sun. He has been published in National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City, Seniors Review and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. With hundreds of reviews, photos and helpful votes, he has earned Trip Advisor's "Top Contributor Badge" and is considered an "Expert" in both Hotels and Restaurant reviews. Mike posts photos to Pinterest where he has a following of four thousand viewers.