Vacations are important for everyone. It’s a break from responsibilities. It’s an opportunity to pamper yourself. It’s a chance to learn about different cultures. Your vacation can be stimulating intellectually, it can be incredibly relaxing, or it can be a combination of both! The problem is, most of us keep putting our dream vacation off until next year, or until you finish some project, or until you win the lottery! Make this your year!
Before you decide where you want to go, realistically think about what you are physically capable of doing. If you are a fit and active senior, there should be no limits to the type of vacation you go on. However, if you can only walk short distances, you might have to plan your vacation to accommodate your physical ability. Are you willing to use a wheelchair part of the time? Is your destination wheelchair accessible? Do you have other health issues that will affect how your vacation is designed? Be very honest with yourself about what your capabilities are, so you can plan the best vacation ever.
Another consideration is whether you will be accompanied or if you are planning to travel alone. There are travel groups for singles, and you may make lifelong friends with your companions. You already have the interest of travel in common.
You may be the senior caregiver for your parent and are trying to plan a vacation for them. The criteria above still apply. In addition, your senior may not do well in a busy, highly stimulating environment like Las Vegas, but may love a vacation on the oceanfront or in a lodge in the woods. These are things to keep in mind when planning a great vacation. Now you are ready to choose the destination.
1. Homeward Bound.
Maybe the person you provide elderly home care for has already told you where they want to go. If they talk about wishing they could see the place where they grew up as a child one more time, that might be the location for your vacation. You can Google the address and see if the house is still there. What else is in the area that could be part of the trip?
2. Make It Military.
If your senior is ex-military, they may enjoy a trip to the West Point Military Museum or to the Pearl Harbor Museum. Every summer in Wisconsin, the EAA Aviation Museum hosts the largest airshow in the country, with every type of aircraft on display and with daily flying shows. The aircraft museum is open year-round. The aircraft range from DIY planes to the latest military craft. You can walk right up to the planes and, in many cases, talk to the pilots and owners.
3. Spring Training.
Is your senior a sports fan? How about a trip south for spring training? Since many baseball teams train in the same location, your senior will have the opportunity to see several teams, and the cost of spring training games is considerably less than regular season games. Another alternative is a vacation to the Baseball or Football Hall of Fame. If they have never been to a professional game, take a mini-vacation and see a hockey game or a soccer match. Go to Hopkinton, Massachusetts for the start of the Boston Marathon next April. Incorporate your senior’s interests into the vacation to make it extra special.
Take mom—or dad—to the spa! Several days spent being pampered and treated to massage and manicures and pedicures, as well as facials and health and beauty regimens, would be the ultimate luxury vacation.
5. Polish Up on History.
If your senior is a history buff, a vacation to Williamsburg or Plymouth, Mass. may be perfect. Take a side trip to Salem, Mass. to see the site of the infamous witch hunt. The Civil War buff may be interested in going to Gettysburg or other civil war battlefields. Some sites stage reenactments of famous battles and will include historically correct camps and medical tents, as well as interpreters to explain what the life of a civil war soldier was like.
6. Better on Broadway.
The ultimate vacation for a theater buff is a trip to New York for the Broadway shows, but if New York is overwhelming for your senior, there are alternatives. Charleston, South Carolina hosts the Spoleto Festival of performing arts in late May-early June. This genteel southern city offers a less overwhelming atmosphere for the enjoyment of your senior. The city has many attractions for the visitor to see and appreciate year-round.
7. Take the Train.
If you or the person you are senior caregiver for is ready for a bigger trip, consider the train system. There are passenger trains that travel across the U.S. with viewing cars to enjoy the scenery. You can take a train to Glacier National Park and be met by a tour bus that takes you through the park. You will spend a few days at a lodge in the park and return by train. You can book a sleeping cabin with berths for sleeping on the train.
8. Hop on a Cruise.
If a train isn’t your thing but you don’t want to drive, perhaps the vacation for you is a cruise! There are cruises available to Alaska, to Baja, or throughout the Caribbean. If you want to go to Europe, there are river cruises available, as well as Mediterranean cruises. You can choose to book the large cruise ships, but there are also ships available to book that are smaller. These can be more economical and also can land in smaller port cities so you won’t be landing with hundreds of other guests.
9. Take a Tour.
There are tour groups that are specifically for seniors over 50, such as Elder Treks, although you can usually have a companion who is over 18. This will allow you to be accompanied by your usual senior caregiver. These are usually smaller tour groups, so you will be able to enjoy the trip even more with additional personal attention. These groups have tours available in almost any country in the world. The ability to travel with people of your own age group can be a comfortable way to make new friends.
Make this the year that you take the trip of your dreams and cross it off your bucket list.