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TRAVEL SLEUTH - VACATIONING WITH SENIORS
 
(2019 - Spring Issue)

Writer: JANE STOKES



Older parents have changing needs, and through a combined effort, solutions are usually found systematically. Multi-generational travel, however, may put us in completely new territory so be sure to check off the essentials for loved ones well in advance.

Therefore, if you’re planning an upcoming vacation to create brand-new memories or to give your parents a trip-of-a-lifetime feeling, a checklist is highly recommended. Initial decisions for peace-of-mind might start with these:

AGREE ON THE TYPE OF VACATION

If you want a sunny resort-style getaway, countless choices are available to Canadians due to the high frequency of southbound, non-stop flights. If, however, the goal is to help your parents fulfill a “must-do” experience, such as Manhattan, New Orleans or Key West south of the border, or Venice, Jerusalem or Honolulu farther afield, such choices might be more easily accommodated on a quality coach tour, sea cruise or a luxury river cruise. The options are fun to discuss and will give you plenty of companion information.    

PINPOINT ANY HEALTH ISSUES AND COMFORT CONCERNS

Begin with the Travel Abroad guidelines posted by the federal government at travel.gc.ca in the sections headed Health & Safety/Older Travellers. The information covers vaccines, transportation risks (flying and driving), jet lag, high altitudes, extreme air temperatures, traveller’s diarrhea, carrying medications, and more. Planning accurately is essential but since surprises do arise, here are two more tips: at least six weeks before departure, get personalized advice from your family doctor or from a travel health clinic, and, buy supplementary health insurance with an in-depth understanding of the terms. Even if your trip is in Canada, find out the extent of healthcare coverage in other provinces.

PLAN FOR AIRPORT DEMANDS

The days of travel can be arduous at any age especially when you’re flying. Airport procedures involve a lot of walking and several lineups for check-in, luggage tagging, security screening, customs clearance and aircraft boarding. Will you be bringing mobility devices, health supplies or prescription drugs? Would medical implants prevent a loved one from passing through the X-rays of a security scanner? Solutions are in place at Canadian airports, including (in some locations) a seniors’ lane at screening points. To help you plan ahead, catsa-acsta.gc.ca is a comprehensive website offered by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA). See the Special Needs planning page for tips on a full range of issues for adults and children. Outside Canada, ask your airline for assistance at each airport on the itinerary. 

DECIDE WHERE TO GO AND HOW TO DO IT

When seniors’ needs travel with us, so must patience and dedication. Some vacation choices make this far more relaxing, however:

Cruising: Instead of a do-it-yourself European rail or road trip, why not see the major sites on a peaceful river cruise, where you check in once and float from one historical place to another? Or, perhaps, you prefer a cruise on the high seas. Today, cruise vessels can take you to Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Hamburg, Florence, Monte Carlo, Saint-Tropez, Athens, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Auckland, Cape Town, Rio, Buenos Aires, Sydney, San Francisco or Honolulu, just for starters—all of it with medical expertise on board. In North America, by sea or river, you can float into Québec City, Halifax, St. John’s, Charlottetown, Boston, New York City, Miami, Key West, New Orleans, Memphis, San Francisco, Victoria and many more. With the VIP treatment so unique to cruising, families are safe to decide their own fun, worry-free.

Ask a specialist to match your expectations with the right cruise. The many features to consider include: on-board atmosphere (do you prefer the pulsation of a megaship or the calm and charm of a smaller vessel?); cabin choice (adjacent, adjoining or a suite?); and, scheduled ports of call (to fulfill the dream). Whether your trip is multi-generational or involves seniors only, a specialist can recommend a cruise ship to match everyone’s expectations. Vacation assistance is also found at canadiantravelagents.ca.

Resorts, near and far: When hospital access with reliable standards are a priority, consider all of the gems in the United States and Canada. Quality resorts featuring fine dining, entertainment, golf, spas and popular recreational activities can be planned year-round along three glorious coastlines.    

If, however, your loved ones are talking about a dream trip to Fiji, the Seychelles or Bora Bora, careful planning can make it a reality. After a very long flight, for instance, let the chosen resort work its magic on your recuperation. As well, think carefully about the destination if you cannot book a direct flight. Connections and travelling across time zones are exhausting. So, when flying long distances, be sure to keep everyone hydrated and stretch those legs regularly to prevent blood clots.

Coach trips: These creative itineraries can transport you in comfort through magnificent countryside to most of the world’s historical cities and often provide VIP treatment along the way. This option appeals to every age however it does involve frequent accommodation changes and willingness to adhere to a tightly scheduled itinerary.     

Vacation home rentals: If you’d like your family to settle in under one roof at a desired destination, consider a home exchange or vacation rental. In Canada, the USA and abroad, choices galore await on sites like homeaway.ca, homeexchange.com and hometogo.com. Just be sure to do your due diligence and ask for multiple references before you book or make any deposit.

 
 
 
 
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