“You are crazy, making me climb all these stairs!” she said, pointing at her crutches and trying to look upset before bursting into a big laugh. Nicole is 55 years old than me and for 4 days, my travel companion for a mini road-trip on the roads of Normandy (France).
We all know that life is too short. A couple of months before this trip, I felt the urgency to spend time with her. The first time I met Nicole I was barely a few weeks old, and I have always said she is my 3rd grand mother. But lately, with me living abroad we barely meet each other twice a year for a couple of hours over dinner or coffee.
“And you would like to go with me?” If you love travelling, why not sharing this passion with this (these) special one(s)? Many older people didn’t really had much opportunity to travel and at this age, regrets and loneliness may be a huge part of their daily thoughts. In this article I want to show you that with a bit of planning and some concessions it is possible!
Show them it’s never too late to travel. Share with your older loved ones a moment you will both remember.
Is this really reasonable?
Before suggesting to your loved ones a trip, take some time to think about it. Evaluate how fit they are. How autonomous are them? Can they walk a bit, for how long? Do they need help with shower etc… Talk with the doctor if needed.
You should also honestly ask yourself: will you be able to bear with them and for how long? Travelling together means spending 100% of the time together, and older people tend to be more demanding, and quite impatient. It is not a good idea if you are stressed or tired: don’t expect the trip to be a relaxing vacation, but what a good time you will have!
You feel ready for it? It’s time to reveal the surprise! Keep a positive attitude -chances are that they will be quite reluctant at first. “But you know I can’t walk long!” or “At my age, this is not reasonable“. Don’t force them, don’t insist too much. Leave them time to get used to the idea. After some time (a few days) and a few tries, if they really want to go, you should be able to obtain a “Yes but we have to find something that is not too far/ tiring/ expensive..etc. ” 🙂 Congratulations, they are in! Discuss with them their wishes and ambitions.
Then, time for you to do your homework to bring this idea to life.
Advice to travel with older Adults
Research, research, research and plan in details
How long to go? The real question is probably how long can you bear with her/him/them? If you are unsure, a couple of days is a good place to start. By staying one night away you can go further without stressing.
Where to go? If the trip feels a bit overwhelming, don’t visit a place that you are not familiar with. If you feel ready to tackle a new destination, make sure you do plenty of research. Don’t be over ambitious and prioritise time there than on transportation. Even if you are gone for a few days, I would recommend to choose a main base, and not to change hotel every night.
Transportation. A 5 min walk seems short for you, keep in mind that they will most probably walk slower. Depending on the fitness level, travel by car may be a almost a must, except if you can take cabs everywhere. Taking the train or the plane? You can usually book services for people with reduced mobility. Take full advantage of that.
Accommodation. Think about the level of comfort, accessibility, (lift/ not too many stairs), requirement of a separate room, separate beds. Double check everything with the hotels, before booking and a couple of days before.
Short on time or research is not your thing? A good option may be to go on an organised trip with them. Cruises for example are really popular among seniors.
>>> At this stage you should have a decent idea of what the trip would be. It’s time to bring it back to your travelling companion and discuss a bit more in details. Get their buy-in and book the trip.
Before departure – give support, offer help
Going on a travel, as short as it might be can be stressful. Don’t forget that with age you have a tendency to get easily worry, especially with everything that is unusual.
Here is what you can do to ease the preparation: check if the places you plan to visit have disable access or offer some help for travellers, help with a list of what to take, think about extra items that can be useful (foldable seat, fan…), share the trip planning with them. The night before, give them a call or drop by if possible. It is not the time to have them change their mind.
During the trip
Be patient, try to enjoy and relax. Don’t rush, don’t try to do too much. The goal is not to visit all points of interests, but to share some time together in a different environment. Lead the planning but let them choose.
Encourage their efforts, and stay positive (“I wish I could visit the castle but there are too many stairs” ” I am really proud we can go so far already and you can still enjoy this beautiful place“). From the trip, I remember her eyes sparkling and this was my best reward.
Don’t forget to take some pictures – with both of you!, it will be a shame not to have memories of this great moment.
After the trip
Create a small photo album or print some pictures, it is a great gift for your next visit and a nice way to bring back good memories.
We went on this trip together more than a year ago. Each time I visit, I notice the little photo album that I gave her after the trip. It is always at hand.
Life is too short, go travel with a older loved one.