My mother just turned 82 and recently came back from a trip to Las Vegas.
But she had a hard time with walking on the strip.
I started wondering what other destinations were better suited for her when she wanted to travel again, even though she’s healthy and independent now.
“We are planning more and more Disney vacations for seniors, 60 and older,” said Elyssa Antonelle, owner of MickeyTravels, LLC.
“For senior travelers who want to see the world, but don’t want to actually go oversees for whatever reason, they are able to spend a lot of time experiencing the cultures of so many countries in Epcot’s World Showcase. Additionally, there are many historic attractions seniors can visit in the American Pavilion (Hall of Presidents as example), where they can learn more about our American history without traveling to Washington, D.C.
“Lastly, if seniors want to experience fine dining (California Grill, Victoria & Albert’s, and Yachtsman Steakhouse for instance), world-class golf courses, or high-end shopping (Disney Springs) they have the ability to do so.”
Just recently, Be Independent Home Care—an Irish company that provides one-to-one assistance and support to elderly clients in their own homes—released this storygraphic on the top eight great travel destinations for older people. This included Machu Picchu, Alaska, Branson, Miami Beach, London, Rome, River Danube and Bangkok.
What to think of the selection? I asked some travel agents for their advice.
“I think it is unrealistic that they listed Machu Picchu,” said Lynn Clark with Travel Leaders/Journeys Travel Group Inc. in Wisconsin. “It is very strenuous, even for a younger, healthier person. The only way an older person could do this is if it were completely private and transportation was included. Even then, it would still require quite a bit of hiking.”
Jacquie Whitt of Adventure Trips in Virginia Beach, Virginia has organized trips to Machu Picchu for travelers in their 80s but reminds older travelers that it takes a minimum of three days to get to the ruins, beginning and ending in Lima, the closest international airport.
“The altitude in Cusco airport is 11,000-ft, and Machu Picchu is 8,000-ft, which can affect everyone coming from sea level, but especially people who are out of shape,” said Whitt. “There are no accommodations for people who use wheelchairs or walkers.”
Instead of Machu Picchu, Marjorie Laflin of It’s a Fine Day for Travel in Northridge, California would prefer to put Tahiti on the list: “Hey, it’s relaxing on the beach eating healthy food (fish/fruit). A hike if you like, culture, pineapple, real vanilla, snorkeling or more active water sports in calm lagoons.”
Clark explains that Bangkok is also not as great of an idea as it might initially sound.
“There’s a very long flight time from the United States,” she said. “With an average monthly temperature of 85 degrees and average dewpoint of 70, I don’t see older people being real comfortable there.”
Approximately 85 percent of Scott Ludlum’s clients who travel to Panama are 60 or older, making it another ideal alternative.
“Panama offers a huge array of ‘soft adventure’” activities for active seniors such as zip line tours, hanging bridges, white water rafting and hiking some of the best birding trails in all of Central America,” said Ludlum, Chief Travel Advisor of Panama Travel Consultants and Travel Journeys of a Lifetime in Riverview, Florida.
Kelly Ortiz, owner of Guru Travel in Queens, New York, would like to see Door County, Wisconsin on the list: “They offer fishing, golfing, snowshoeing and cherry picking in the summer, as well as apple picking in the fall. Another attraction is the lighthouses. It’s a great location for art and culture.”
Lori Wall, an Independent Travel Agent with Destinations to Explore in Hyde Park, New York believes that cruises are the best trips for seniors:
“Cruises are a great money-saving way to go out and see a lot of different areas and destinations. If you are traveling with a group of seniors you can all go do your own thing during the day and meet up for dinner. There are spa services, bingo, shows or just relaxing by the pool. You can build your own vacation based on your activity level and budget.”
River cruising is another great option.
“A relaxed pace allows cruisers to experience each city they stop in as well as the ones they pass by on the rivers,” said Jeni Chaffer, Travel Consultant with Journeys Travel Inc. in Illinois. “Each cruise line is different, but a variety of escorted tours are offered so you can choose based on your mobility level.”
When it comes to planning your 2018 vacations, Cessy Meacham, with Anytime Bookings in Melbourne, Florida, suggests forgetting bucket lists and just using the right travel agent to find the right destination for you.
“They will book accessible rooms and vehicles with wheelchair capabilities,” she said.
Travel doesn’t have to end just because you’re older. It’s all about finding the right fit.
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