September 29th, 2011 at 9:35 am
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Never travel without an itinerary, Part 3

by Judy Kirkwood

This post is Part III of Never Travel Without an Itinerary

When you have a family member whose health is precarious, you want to be available night or day to receive news and to help make life or death decisions. You get used to planning for catastrophe. Yet, it is human nature to let down your guard from time to time. And that is what I did when I went to Cayo Espanto, a private island off the coast of Belize, for a long weekend on assignment for a magazine.

It was only a month after my mother had had her stroke and I had rushed home from Italy not knowing if she were alive or dead. I didn’t want to go on another international trip. But in addition to having made a professional commitment to an unparalleled luxury experience before mom had her stroke, I had invited my older son to join me.

Married, a father of three (now four) at the time, and holding down several jobs, a subsidized weekend on a private island was the trip of a lifetime for him. He could fish from our villa’s dock and we would take a bus ride to see Mayan ruins as well as a half-day fishing trip with a local guide.

Elders and traveling: have a back-up plan for contact

The first thing I did when things settled down after my mother’s stroke was to buy a World Blackberry cell phone with international access. I signed on for international service for my trip to Belize and made sure there was wireless reception on the island for email and Skype.

As soon as we deplaned I tried to phone Cayo Espanto to check on our transport to the island. My Blackberry did not work. No one mentioned I needed to buy a SIM card (or maybe they did and I didn’t understand) for international calls. I thought it came with the phone and had not checked. At least I still had the laptop for email updates or Skype. Wrong! The island did have wireless access at the 7 villas, off and on, now and then, but not all the time.

Thankfully, I was able to use the staff’s phone, but it was frustrating that I had not been able to ensure 24/7 contact between myself and my sister. Even in our connected world, 24/7 access is an illusion.

Taking this trip was a risk as it could have turned out like my nightmare in Italy when mom had a stroke. But it was such an unusual opportunity to bond with my adult son in an idyllic setting. He was a happy camper on Cayo Espanto.

And I was his happy mom.

Posted in Caregiving, Other | 2 Comments »
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2 Comments to “Never travel without an itinerary, Part 3”

  1. Lila

    Thanks for reminding us to think about these things!

  2. Helen

    Sounds like all’s well that ends well, but it must have been pretty hairy until you figured out a way to connect with your sister.

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