Adapting Holiday Travel Plans to Include a Senior

  • November 27, 2019

The holidays are a great time of year for an intergenerational family vacation. It gives everyone a time to strengthen bonds and build memories to last a lifetime. Whether you are planning a few days away or a long trip, you’ll want to make sure you consider the needs of everyone in the family.

Planning an Intergenerational Holiday Vacation

1. Be mindful of aging-related struggles

When planning your holiday getaway, be mindful of some of the changes that occur with age. Even an active older adult may walk a little slower and grow tired faster than younger family members.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you are planning:

  • Think about size: A small or midsized hotel that requires less walking might be better than a large, sprawling resort.
  • Avoid extreme climates: Older adults have greater difficulty adapting to changes in temperature. Destinations with extreme hot or cold might be tough.
  • Arrange for easier travel: Nonstop flights may cost a little more, but they can be easier on everyone involved. Traveling by car may be even better. It allows you to stop frequently along the way.
  • Don’t forget to take breaks: Schedule free time between activities. This allows your senior loved one a chance to take breaks without feeling like they are slowing you down or missing out on anything.

2. Be proactive in researching options and asking for assistance

Living with mobility issues or special dietary requirements doesn’t mean your loved one can’t enjoy time away. The trick is to make sure you let hotels, airlines, and tourist attractions know you need special accommodations.

  • Call the hotel directly: While not as convenient as online booking, calling the hotel directly can yield many rewards. You can ask them to reserve an accessible room, find out about parking and transportation options, and even ask for a senior discount.
  • Explore menus online: More restaurants, attractions, and hotels are getting on board with accommodating special diets. Whether it is a diabetic menu or gluten-free options, you can view online menus for restaurants in your destination city. If you have any doubts, contact the concierge or front desk at the hotel you will be staying at for recommendations.
  • Notify the airlines in advance: If you will be flying, alert the airline about your senior loved one’s special needs in advance. If they need a wheelchair or boarding assistance, it’s best to book ahead so you don’t run the risk of missing your flight. Most airlines request at least 48 hours’ notice. The U.S. Department of Transportation has useful information and resources for those who need a little extra assistance at the airport.

Our final tip is to consider traveling to destinations that are less popular when you have multiple generations accompanying you. While Disneyland or an indoor water park might be a big hit with your kids, the crowds can make them more of a challenge for seniors. It may be better to rent a condo on a beach in a warm climate or spend a few days exploring a city like Washington, D.C. or Nashville.

Holiday Staycations with a Senior

If a holiday getaway just isn’t feasible, consider hosting a staycation instead. Put together a few games and activities the three generations of the family can enjoy together. Spending time together will make the holiday season more meaningful for everyone!


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