Though your parents have gotten older, their love for adventure and a good time has probably grown! While some elderly parents prefer quiet activities at home, many welcome the idea of getting out and seeing the world every now and again. You can share this experience with them, or you can help them plan a trip on their own. Either way, they're sure to have a blast if you plan things well.
Travel is the gift that keeps on giving, first with fun, then with memories. If you’ve been thinking about traveling with family, particularly elderly parents, then this post is just what you need. We've got some of the best tips & vacation ideas for elderly parents that will certainly give them something to smile about. If you've already asked and your parents have actually decided that they’re up for a trip, then you’ll need to get planning as soon as possible (lest they change their minds)!
It takes planning to make a great vacation. When traveling with seniors or helping them to plan a trip on their own, there can be a few extra things to consider. Here are a few of the most important:
Open communication is key when planning a vacation with elderly parents. This is vital whether you’re helping to plan a solo trip for your parents or traveling as a group. Ahead of booking a trip, discuss with your parents where they want to go. This helps to ensure that you all are on the same page. Options include family beach vacations, golf breaks or even visiting popular cities, some of which are included in our list of the best multi-generational vacation ideas. The important thing is ensuring that whatever destination you choose is capable of meeting the needs of everyone who will be traveling.
Mobility and accessibility are important factors when traveling with elderly parents. Their vacation won't be as much fun if they have a hard time getting around or into some of the attractions they like. To avoid any inconveniences, take some time to look around and explore various options. If your parents have specific needs relating to mobility and accessibility, ensure the accommodation and activities you select are appropriate. For elderly folks who have a hard time walking long distances, you might want to choose a destination where there are activities near the resort and accessible amenities on the property.
Getting through the airport can be a hassle no matter your age. If you’ll be traveling with your parents or they’re headed on vacation on their own, try to make sure there’s enough time allotted for getting around at the airport. There will likely be quite a bit of walking between check-in and boarding, so the extra time will definitely come in handy. If you'll be traveling with your children and as well as your parents, it can take even longer to get around the airport. Plan accordingly.
Don’t leave childcare planning for the last minute if you’re heading on a multigenerational family vacation. Discuss this with the adults who will be traveling with you, including your parents. Chances are your parents will want to spend some time with their grandchildren anyway, which will provide some time for you and your partner (or you on your own) to enjoy your getaway. The most important thing with vacation childcare when traveling with a group is to plan carefully and don't make any assumptions. Have a chat with the people who will be traveling in your group (who may also be bringing their own kids) to talk about who will watch the children, and when.
Expert tip: Some Caribbean resorts offer complimentary childcare services in their all-inclusive family vacation package. Beaches Resorts are a great example of this! You can get some much-needed time off while your children get social at the included Kids Camp. They’ll be supervised as they engage in age-appropriate activities. Certified nannies are also available for private care at an additional cost.
When planning a vacation for or with elderly parents, you're going to want to ensure that the destination they wind up going to has activities for all age groups. This is especially needed if you're going on a multigenerational vacation. If you're booking just for your parents, think about the things they like to do. Don’t think you know it all, or that you can predict the things they'll want to do. Ask them what they enjoy or are willing to try. You might be surprised by the answers and their vacation is likely to be much more exciting as a result. Whether you'll be traveling with your parents or not, help them plan to do as much or as little as they would like.
Good to know: If your parents are the energetic type looking to enjoy some fun in the sun with their grandkids, you can consider one of the Caribbean water park resorts. Pirates Island Water Parks at Beaches Resorts can be fun for the whole family. There are even resorts with lazy rivers, a relaxing feature your parents will appreciate!
Before booking any activities for your elderly parents to try on their vacation, find out the distance from their resort to the attractions/tours, and how they will get there. This is an important step whether your parents are headed out for a city break or intend on spending time at a beach hotel. Book excursions that are close and easy to get to perhaps with one or two exceptions that might be further away. As long as your elderly parents won’t have to travel long distances daily on their vacation (which can be tiring), you’re all sure to enjoy a relaxing time away.
Expert tip: If your parents are really into trying as many activities as they can during a vacation, you can choose to stay in an all-inclusive resort. Resorts like Sandals and Beaches have entertainment day and night, activities and entertainment that guests can enjoy on-site, and complimentary transfers for excursions booked through the resort.
Bad weather can certainly put a damper on a vacation. For this reason, it is important to get familiar with the weather of the destination you have in mind before booking your trip. The weather will help determine the best time to go, and whether that particular destination will be ideal for your elderly parents.
Weather considerations are especially important for seniors, some of whom might have issues with being too hot or too cold. In destinations that are very warm, they should pay extra attention to staying hydrated. On the other hand, there's also the issue of rainy weather. Overall, when booking a vacation for your elderly parents pay close attention to the best time to visit the destination you all have in mind.
Expert tip: These articles on the weather in Negril and the weather in Ocho Rios will help you get a better understanding of what to expect at those destinations each month of the year. Hint: You’ll have lots of warm Caribbean sunshine no matter when you go!
Insurance is undoubtedly something everyone should think about when traveling, especially seniors. Depending on the age of your parents, it might be a more tedious process setting up medical insurance on their behalf. It is worth having them included in your policy in advance. When setting up travel medical insurance for your parents, you'll want to shop around as this can get costly particularly if they're over the age of 75. If your parents have medical issues, you'll need to verify that those are covered in any policies you sign up for. Also, make sure it’ll be easy to get assistance while they're on vacation.
As your vacation nears, packing will rise to the top of your list of the most pressing things to do. If you’ll be traveling with your elderly parents, a packing list will help you avoid leaving essentials behind. You can have separate lists for yourself and for your parents. If they'll be traveling alone, you can also help them get their packing list together.
Make sure any medications they may need are included on their packing list. If you'll be traveling too, you can even keep some of the important stuff in your suitcase or carry-on until you all get there. Things like sleep masks come in handy for older parents, especially if you'll be going somewhere where the sun will rise early. Your parents will need to be as rested as possible so you all can enjoy a great vacation together!
Expert tip: If you’re planning a vacation for your elderly parents or a family vacation, our family vacation planning checklist can help you simplify things and get vacationing sooner! These packing lists may also come in handy depending on who is traveling and where you’re headed:
● Packing list for Turks & Caicos
● Packing list for Jamaica
● Packing list for a beach vacation with a toddler
● Packing list for The Bahamas
A pro tip when traveling with elderly parents is to involve them in the planning process. Discuss with them not just the location, but finances as well. How many people will be going? How long will the trip be? Who will pay for what? Talking about these things ahead of your vacation may help things run a lot more smoothly when you get there.
Discuss and decide who will be paying for food and drinks to avoid disagreements. If you've got parents who won't accept no for an answer when it comes to picking up the tab after dinner, then perhaps going to an all-inclusive resort may be ideal. Food, drinks, activities, and more are all included in the price you pay, so all these things can be handled before everyone gets there.
Who can turn down an all-inclusive vacation in the Caribbean? This is the type of vacation that can include it all -- resort, food, drinks, and activities, making it the perfect choice for elderly parents. This is the ideal vacation for elderly parents with limited mobility as with all-inclusive family resorts everything they need can be found on-site. One of the best resort options for elderly parents or multi-generational family vacations is Beaches Negril, which is located on the picturesque Seven Mile Beach. From this resort your parents won't have to go far to get to the beach, it'll actually be just a few steps away!
If your parents have never been on a cruise before then it is certainly worth considering one. There are many different types of cruises to choose from with varying themes, and all have one goal in mind -- relaxation. Of course, visiting new cities is a large part of the cruise experience as well and you can find out from your parents which destinations, they’d most like to see so you can select a cruise that stops in some of these places.
A cruise is ideal for elderly parents who really want to just take it easy, and there are specific cruises that cater to travelers with limited mobility. Everything your parents need from food to accommodation will be right aboard the ship and whether they are super active or on scooters or wheelchairs, they’ll be able to find a cruise that meets their needs.
Some elderly people don’t like to travel at all, and if they do, it's gotta be somewhere close to home. If that describes your parents, you might suggest a vacation in Florida. St. Augustine, Florida to be exact. This part of the sunshine state with quaint brick streets and Old-European ambiance is loved by seniors who don't mind a new experience as long as it won’t equate to long travel times. There's a rich cultural history in St. Augustine that's quite diverse as well which can add to the fun, they’ll be able to have while there.
There's something for everyone in Las Vegas, and for this reason, this city makes a great vacation destination for older people looking for a thrill. It’ll be easy for your parents to get around on the streets of Vegas, and they can enjoy going to the theaters, gambling, sightseeing, and overall, just relaxing. Ahead of their Las Vegas vacation, you’ll even be able to check what shows will be on while they're there, so you can get the activity planning started!
A leisurely bus tour can be a great way to explore and do something out of the norm. Your elderly parents can hop on one of these tours to get to a particular attraction or visit multiple places in one trip. This type of vacation is ideal for seniors looking for limited mobility vacations with a focus on comfort, relaxation, and exploration.
Look for bus tours that combine entertainment with a bit of history, so that it's engaging for all involved. Themed tours are among some of the offerings worth considering. These kinds of tours will make it possible for your parents to choose the sort of things they want to see along the way.
History and art lovers will most appreciate a museum or gallery tour. This tour can include visiting a series of museums and art galleries. Museum and gallery tours appeal to seniors as many of these locations are indoors and handicap accessible. Tours of this nature are also great for wider family groupings as the best museums and galleries provide interactive experiences for all. Your museum stop can be part of a broader multi-generational family vacation (see our family vacation ideas) that includes other interesting stops parents, kids, and everyone else will enjoy.
A trip to a national park is ideal for elderly parents who are healthy, active and enjoy walking. The amount of walking required will depend on which park you go to. For this reason, it is a good idea to do some research to find the park that will be the most suitable. Even with that said, in between walking there will be plenty of places your elderly parents will be able to stop along the way to rest if they need to.
Some national parks come with the option to book a lodge or cabin, which can be an alternative to traditional camping. Cabins and lodges work best for elderly parents as they tend to be more comfortable overall. From their cozy cabin, your parents will be able to enjoy the captivating scenery without leaving their room.
Why not sign your elderly parents up for a botanical garden tour during their vacation? With bright, colorful flowers and plants everywhere with the most exotic scents, botanical garden tours can be enjoyable for just about anyone. There are many options of botanical gardens to choose from in and out of the U.S. Inside the gardens, your parents will be able to see many unique flowers and plants while they soak in a truly tranquil atmosphere.
Botanical gardens are great for taking a stroll as well and learning from the tour guides about the various plants and their uses. The best thing about a botanical garden visit will be the peace it affords. If this will be a family affair, then you all are likely to leave in a space of bliss.
Want to make your elderly parents really happy? How about arranging a riverboat tour on their behalf? This tour is suitable whether your parents will be vacationing alone or in a larger family group. There are lots of options for riverboat tours in the U.S. that your elderly parents can enjoy during their vacation including tours to popular attractions like Niagara Falls. This will be a leisurely and peaceful tour where your parents will be able to sightsee while living freely in the moment. Floating down the river on a boat will be super calming, but there are certainly some tours that pack quite a bit of excitement too.
As much as you may want to plan a vacation for your parents, if they’re traveling solo, you might have some concerns. If you take some time to plan, like you can with a guided city break, it’ll be possible for your parents to have a safe and memorable trip on their own or as part of a multi-generational family vacation. With a guided city tour, your parents will get to be right in the action, but with a guide who can take them to the best spots. With less planning to do on their part, they’ll be able to relax and indulge in the experience as they explore whichever city they choose. As they roam, a guide will be on hand just in case they want to stop for breaks along the way or have questions about the places and things they see.
Give your elderly parents the opportunity to escape from their daily reality for a moment with a theater break. The wondrous benefits of a little theater include pure and simple joy, and your parents can have this experience in the best way out on Broadway. Whether it'll be their first theater experience, or it's already something they love, your elderly parents will enjoy their theater encounter that can include anything from musicals to live drama. A theater break is best for people who want a shorter trip, so if that is what your parents would prefer, they’ll be happy with this option.
Expert tip: There’s a great selection of restaurants around the theaters as well, which will be ideal if your parents are the ultimate foodies!
A quieter vacation option can involve renting a private residence for your elderly parents to spend some time away from home. This can be a cottage, villa, or just about any private residence that has the sort of amenities your parents need to feel right at home. This option is also great for larger family gatherings or vacations, particularly if you're able to secure a private residence suitable for a big group. In a bigger vacation residence, your parents can still have their own space while being able to easily meet up with everyone else for meals and activities.
There are many benefits of golf for seniors, and these include gradual improvements in walking and standing ability, balance, strength, and even cognitive processing. If golf is something your parents are into, they'll definitely love being able to experience some amazing golf courses for their vacation. You can even combine an all-inclusive resort experience with Beaches Resorts golf and Sandals Resorts golf, which might just be the highlight of their vacation. Beaches Ocho Rios is near a championship golf course which golf lovers will appreciate. This means that, as guests of Beaches Ocho Rios, your parents will be able to get their fill of golf and plenty of other activities as well. There are also plenty of places to golf in the U.S. if you're looking for somewhere closer to home.
Expert tip: Whether you’re just helping your parents plan their vacation or you'll be going with them, these great golf courses in the Caribbean promise a world of relaxation and as much fun as you're willing to make time for!
Riding around on a train has a nostalgic and fun feel to it. This can be a great option if your parents love sightseeing and exploring new places. Train vacations work for seniors with limited mobility as they won't have to move around much. They’ll pretty much be able to scope the scenery from the comfort of their seats as they make their way to their destination. There are a variety of places your parents can explore via a train trip, and if you’re planning on their behalf, you’ll be able to choose between local day trips and longer trips that are all-inclusive. Train trips are also ideal if your parents will be visiting you or other family members or friends and want a comfortable and convenient way to get there.
Your parents have done so much for you throughout their lives. What better way to continue showing your love for them than to plan a vacation on their behalf or even go on one with them? We hope that these vacation ideas for elderly parents will help get you started on vacation planning, whether you decide on a city break, cruise, or even a getaway at one of the best all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean!
Expert Tip: Looking for sunny destinations that your elderly parents will love? The Turks & Caicos is popular for vacations with seniors as is Jamaica. In Jamaica, opt for Negril resorts or Ocho Rios Jamaica resorts which will position you and your parents (or just them if they're traveling alone) near some of the best attractions in Jamaica.