When I think of summer traveling, I often think of my grandmother, and my mother. The more I reflect on the benefits of traveling with a minimalist approach, I think of my composed and organized Mom.

Mary J. Allen was a product of the Depression. She was a mid-westerner who moved to Washington DC, after graduating from college. She later joined the Army-Air Forces after finding out her brother was MIA in Germany. Her packing techniques grew from her background of mid-western simplicity, along with her experience of traveling in Europe during the war. This knowledge gave her the necessary skills needed when traveling with five kids to South America and the US. There was little fuss.

Mom was great at routines. She timed afternoon naps, and bedtime, even during summer vacation. We always did better when we knew what to expect. Even as seniors, this also holds true today.

My mother compartmentalized quite well. In fact, she had a knack for packing clothes that would rarely look wrinkled or crumpled. For my mother, traveling was covering all bases; it was about being smooth and unfussy. Clothes and shoes always matched, but yet there was never any excess. Entry and exits through airports were quick, unless there was a delayed connection. Important documents and passports were always kept in check.

The two things mom packed plenty of were undergarments. She packed enough underwear and socks for all five kids; we never lacked for a clean pair. We could travel to South America or to Oklahoma, without a glitch; the same was true when we traveled by car from Oklahoma back to the East Coast. She even managed to include a favorite doll, and books. Traveling was getting us from point A to point B and back. I never saw her out of breath.

When I think of the trials and tribulations of traveling, I think of my paternal grandmother who had a penchant for arriving at airports three hours before boarding for an international flight, much to the chagrin of those who were obligated to get up early and travel in her company. She also had a way of catching my father off guard with worrisome questions at the most inopportune or hectic time; half way to the airport she would ask that dreaded unmistakable question, “You do have our plane tickets, and documents?” She would never question him before we got into the car, nor during breakfast, but she did so halfway to the airport.

Both my mother and grandmother had a minimalist view of traveling; take only what is important. The only problem with my grandmother was that she liked traveling with extra large containers of toothpastes and shampoos. I remember her packing a humongous container of toothpaste in my luggage back from a summer trip from North Africa to Spain, and then to the United States. I was stopped and my bags were checked over again because of that one very large tube of toothpaste. Quite frankly it looked like a pipe to customs in Spain. My grandmother thought I was going to run out of toothpaste during summer vacation. Really?  Thank goodness for current small travel sizes!

Seniors learn from those before them, and so did I. We learn and use that which makes sense. Simplicity, routines, and continuity were the bests tools learned.  When I watch my son pack, I smile. I wonder who he takes after. Mom would be so proud.

At Senior Helpers of Orlando we value the lessons learned from our senior citizens. We thank them every day for their contributions.

If your senior loved one needs assistance and you are looking for an accredited agency to provide home health care do not hesitate to call Senior Helpers of Orlando at 407-628-4357.

Ana P. DeLane

Senior Helpers of Orlando Team Member

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