You know it’s time to get involved in helping your parents arrange a holiday when you realise they are no longer going away or if if it seems to be more of an ordeal than a pleasure. There is help at any budget available with big tour operators and many companies providing expertise. Older travel specialists Silver Travel Advisor recommends a range of specialist providers who can help you arrange all manner of different kinds of holidays from self-catering houses to hotels, coach trips and cruises. They also have specialist advisers to help with the planning of a holiday.
If you are arranging flights, booking in advance through the airline (which co-ordinates with the airports) you can organise different levels of assistance, from the front door, or the terminal drop-off, through check in to the plane and at their destination. Be sure to book a “narrow” wheelchair if needed for the plane itself. Why not get the suitcases sent ahead? It may feel a bit of a luxury, but is becoming more cost effective in comparison to the hold baggage charges from many of the airlines. It requires a bit of forethought – and no last minute packing! Try providers such as www.sendmybags.com or www.flymybag.co.uk.
If the preferred holiday means driving in the UK, you might need to factor in more snooze and loo breaks than for yourself, and even non-motorway routes; you might need to accompany your parents or drive them to their destination. Adapted car hire is available although more limited than regular hire in the UK and abroad, as is wheelchair and scooter hire, and wheelchair accessible vehicles. Contact large well-known providers as well as small local operators. Availability may dictate your final destination. One recommendation we have had is Indigo Car Hire who specialise in care hire for older people.
Public transport in the UK has improved for disabled travellers and those with restricted mobility, and both National Rail and National Express buses suggest forward planning directly with them to ensure a smooth journey.
Coaches, Cruises, Escorted Tours
If your parent is on their own, or even if they’re not, there are lots of holidays that should take the stress out of the whole thing: from no-fly cruises leaving from UK ports, to coach trips picking up all over the country, the world is their oyster these days. And, if your parent has a particular interest – bird watching, flowers or fishing for example, then why not encourage them on to an escorted tour?
The right holiday
The difference between a great holiday and a disaster lies in the detail of things like single supplements, grab rails in the shower, wheelchair or scooter access as well as particular dietary requirements or medical needs. While many holidays claim to be mobility/disabled friendly there may be limited accommodation of this nature, so planning well in advance is advised. Read one woman’s blog on the perils and pleasures of going on a cruise with a wheelchair.
Additional care and support
Finding a holiday companion amongst friends or relatives can add significant moral and practical support and fun. However, you might need to arrange a holiday which includes personal care assistance; there are care homes which provide short term respite care. Flexible, tailored care packages at hotels in the UK are available through organisations such as Richmond Retreats .
There are also holiday companies which specialise in giving people living with dementia and their carers a break; providing bespoke or small group holidays and offering all the support needed to make it a real holiday. Take a look at Dementia Adventure .
Just in case – Arranging travel insurance can be problematic with age and increasing frailty, so good starting points include your parents existing insurance provider, Saga, or Age UK .
Useful lists to put together include 1) emergency numbers for the holiday destination, the address of the local hospital, taxi numbers and pharmacies; 2) your parents bank account details, NI and passport numbers , travel insurance details and a list of any medication.
It’s also a good idea for your parents to pack more medication than they might need, in case they get stuck somewhere; also a really useful idea to take a written list and to give you a copy so you’re not scrabbling around for information should you need it.
The Perfect holiday – coming on holiday with you might be the perfect holiday for everyone – or you going on holiday with them. Whatever the end result that all your planning may be, a holiday either entirely new and different or similar in most respects to their “younger” holidays, everyone needs a break from their usual routine. As they say, a change is as good as a rest. Happy travels!
Additional links/sources of information:
Read Annabel’s blog on a holiday from hell for ways to avoid one!
If you’ve got any top tips to add to this travel pack, why not join our forum and share your knowledge.
And if you would like to find out more about booking the perfect holiday for an older person, you may be interested in our recorded conversation with Silver Travel Advisor managing director Debbie Marshall, discussing travel in old age.