A visit of a parent is always a joyful experience for the children living in USA. However, paying attention to a few things will go a long way in making their stay very pleasant and comfortable. Here are 10 ways in which you can ensure your parents have a pleasant stay in the US.
1. Cultural Orientation
It is worth bearing in mind the major cultural and lifestyle differences between the US and the Indian way of living. For first-time visitors, especially for the older generation, the cultural difference often comes as an uncomfortable feeling and shock, regardless of how short their visit may be. Many find it very difficult to adjust to a lifestyle alien to their own although a majority of the Indian community in the US have adopted a hybrid lifestyle that tries to combine the benefits of both cultures. It is advisable to prepare visiting relatives in advance on what to expect. Some of the things that you could educate them on to help make the transition easier are as follows :
1 Talk to them about road rules, and inform them on how to follow these regulations after they get here, particularly where it involves walking, crossing streets, and paying attention to pedestrian signal lights.
2 Familiarize them with visible aspects such as dress sense, etiquettes such as exchanging pleasantries, dining in restaurants, and conventions around littering.
3 Accents are hard to follow for many parents and can often lead to confusion and miscommunication particularly at the port of entry. It is important to speak clearly and not speak too fast when conversing with officials at the port of entry. Training them on what and how to answer at the time of entry will help boost their confidence while coming through immigration and customs soon after disembarking from the plane.
2. Get the best flight plan available
Parents who are traveling to the US for the first time face arduously long flight times and potentially unsatisfactory service on flights. This is particularly felt when their travel happens once in several years. It would serve their best interests to have them take flights with the least travel duration. Another thing to bear in mind in the amount of time between connecting flights. If the time for the next flight is too short then it raises their anxiety although airlines typically ensure that seniors are properly boarded on connecting flights. As the parents would typically be traveling alone, it always better to do some research and find out airlines that have a good history of on-time flights, service, and hospitality. Paying a little bit more for a good airline is always more preferable than booking an economical flight. Food served on flights may not be as good as they expect, even if specified well in advance. Carrying some kinds of comfort foods that they are used to, can help them tide over any lack of good flight meals, besides helping them during the wait time between connecting flights or during long hauls.
3. Educate them about jet lag
Crossing multiple international time zones causes the body's natural rhythm to go out of sync.This is commonly referred to as jet lag. Passengers, especially ones who travel infrequently, will experience this in the form of disorientation, odd sleep hours, excessive fatigue, problems with digestion, frequent hunger pangs, and so on. Educate parents on the common symptoms of jet lag to alleviate theirs fears. Encourage them to consume more fluids, and avoid caffeine and alcohol in-flight as these dehydrate by nature. Sleeping for fairly long periods of time during the flight helps them get over jet lag sooner after they land. If the airline does not offer it with their convenience packs, ask the travelers to seek an eye mask as it enables deeper sleep during flights and avoids sleep disturbances such as nearby passengers switching on lights or opening window shutters with eye piercing glare outside. During waking hours in the flights, encourage them to take frequent walks, up and down the aisle to help keep blood circulation to the lower extremities flowing. This is an extremely important piece of advice to take seriously to avoid potentially fatal syndromes such Deep Vein Thrombosis that can often occur in the elderly after long periods of motionless sitting positions. Once they are at your home, please ensure that when they sleep during the day time, they have peaceful surroundings to help them get well rested. It takes at least a couple of weeks of rest and relaxation, if not more, for the jet lag to significantly reduce and for the body rhythm to adjust.
4. Places to visit
Plan to visit places of interest only after the jet lag has dissipated. Keep in mind the interest of the visitors before planning a trip for them. Do not be in a hurry to make hectic domestic travel plans. Depending on your budget and time, plan your trips to well known and frequently visited sites such as San Francisco city, the Grand Canyon, Niagara falls, etc. But always keep their food and health requirements in mind. While malls are interesting to visitors, it may not be a place that they visit often given that it often involves long walks, and the window-shopping involved may not be of great interest to them.
5. Keep them occupied
Once the jet lag wears off, it is difficult for people to sit at home and do nothing. Try to involve them in your daily activities. In addition, Indian TV channels could be subscribed to for the kind of entertainment that they are used to back in India. Local libraries are a great place for parents to read newspapers, magazines, books and borrowing movies. Let them accompany you to local events and enjoy some of the lifestyle. They will be able to meet other visitors from India and strike up a good friendship. Similarly, nearby parks are an attractive daily location for them to meet other fellow visitors. If you have a local Indian community center nearby, enroll them in any of their programs of interest as that is a good place for them to socialize with other fellow Indians.
6. Keep them healthy
Adapting to the US climate takes a while for elderly people. The best time to bring parents to the US is perhaps the summer. Although it will still be cold for them early on, they will be able to enjoy it as time goes by. It is easier for them to move around the neighborhood at this time and be able to form friends with other visiting parents. Do not hesitate to buy them good jackets to protect them from sudden weather changes. Depression is one of the biggest risks of aging parents left alone at home. This can be avoided by showing them nearby parks, and helping them socialize. Once they are familiar with the area they could go for walks on their own or accompanied by the children of the family. Be sure to engage in good conversations with them when you are back home from work discussing current affairs, reminiscing good times, and news from India besides helping them with internet news access.
7. Take them to local fairs
Summertime has the most activities in the US. There are county fairs and local art and wine festivals where one gets to see a wide array of locally produced wines, other beverages and food. Visitors also get a glimpse of life in this country that will give them a lot to talk about discuss with friends once back home. Taking them to the local farmer's market is another activity they will love as it brings back familiar surroundings of the vegetable markets in India.
8. Visit/invite friends and relatives
Parties and potlucks held at a friendâ€™s or relatives' place will help them meet more people. Some can be arranged by you as well. Engaging in such social activities makes them feel included in the surroundings while also giving them an opportunity to chat with others besides yourselves in an informal setting. Add some music, bingo games and such other familiar activities to the get-togethers and this will make their stay memorable. You can also find company for your parents by using VisitorsConnect, a site that helps visiting parents staying in the same US neighborhoods meet each other and enjoy some of their favorite things together.
9. Keep track of the local religious places
A visit to places of worship is always welcomed by visiting parents. Elderly parents often love visiting places of worship and spending some time there. There are usually a lot of cultural programs held at these places. Taking parents there will help them relax and enjoy the programs. If visiting parents are going to be with you for an extended period of time, they can visit the local community center which will also give them some activities to engage in.
10. Get a good insurance coverage
A good travel insurance policy that protects you while you travel and stay in USA is most important part of US travel plan. Ill-health can strike suddenly creating panic at the sheer cost of medical bills in this country. It is therefore important to invest in a travel health insurance for visiting parents with an insurance company in the US. This will save you from unnecessary hassle and the problem of chasing after insurance companies in India if there is a need for a doctor's visit or hospital stay. Do not compromise on this front. To learn more about the travel insurance for US visiting parents , visit www.VisitorsCoverage.com.