Organizing the Perfect Vacation for Senior Parents

Organizing the Perfect Vacation for Senior Parents

time icon 5 min read update icon Sept. 16, 2019


Family vacations build memories. As a child, you probably remember all the places your parents would take you every summer. Even though you have entered adulthood and your parents are now seniors, there is no reason why they still can’t enjoy a perfect vacation if you help them make all the arrangements. 


Your parents have gotten older and they may not be as spry as they once were, but they probably still enjoy traveling and experiencing new things. Planning a vacation for your senior parents is similar to any other getaway, but there are going to be a few additional considerations.  Maybe when you were young, your parents took you on vacations that involved hiking and roughing it in the great outdoors. Although those idyllic memories are fantastic, most seniors can no longer easily traverse through the woods nor sleep on the hard ground, so such an adventure vacation is a no-go. You will have to modify the mode of transportation, accommodations, activities, and entertainment choices to fit their physical abilities and their interests.

How to Plan the Perfect Vacation for your Senior Parents

With a bit of research, you can plan the perfect vacation for your aging parents. Prior to planning the trip, you should always consult with your parents’ physician to determine their physical limitations. 

  • Transportation: Your parents might not enjoy a long car ride like they did during their youth. The same can be said about a long flight. Sitting for an extended amount of time can cause an older person’s ankles and legs to swell, which could lead to a dangerous embolism. Often, a short flight or train ride is ideal. With trains, a private sleeper car can also be booked where the aging pair can retreat, relax and sleep in comfort. When opting to fly your parents to their vacation destination, you will need to take into consideration the flight’s length and any possible layovers. You will need to make sure that your parents’ have a sufficient amount of time to get from gate to gate at the airport, so they don’t miss their flights. When traveling by car, you must plan out adequate rest areas where your parents can stretch their legs, grab a bite to eat, and refresh themselves. Many seniors also enjoy cruises because everything is closeby on the ship. Cruise ships are also handicap equipped, which is important if your parents have mobility issues. 
  • Accommodations: When booking a hotel, you might want to consider making sure your parents have a room on the ground floor level, so they are not faced with extended walking or climbing stairs. A hotel suite that features a small kitchenette is also ideal if they enjoy preparing small meals for themselves instead of going out for dinner. Room service is another feature that many seniors benefit from if they do not feel like leaving the room after a long day. 
  • Activities: When planning activities for your parents, remember their physical condition. They may be unable to walk for extended amounts of time, so you won’t want to plan things where they will be overdoing it. Seniors often have a good time doing activities with their peers, so you might want to consider booking functions with a group of retirees. Many historic tours, museums, and other activities can be enjoyed with a tour guide and a group of like-minded seniors. 
  • Entertainment Choices: As we age, our choice in entertainment changes. Perhaps when your parents were younger they enjoyed amusement parks, riding roller coasters, or playing on the beach, but nowadays, they may prefer a Broadway show, a night of gambling at a casino, or an afternoon at the museum. You will need to talk to your parents to determine exactly what entertainment interests them before making reservations. 
  • Safety: One option that you might want to consider before sending your parents off on their trip is opting for a medical alert system that functions outside the home. Your parents can wear pendants, and if an emergency should occur or they become lost, then they can easily press the button the pendant to be put into contact with an operator who will evaluate the situation and send help. 

You can plan a wonderful and safe vacation for your senior parents with a bit of foresight and consideration. Before the trip, be sure to consult with your parent’s physician to get a medical clearance. You should also make sure to pack all their medication in handy pill-dispensing containers, so they easily know what to take and when to take it. Remember, vacations are supposed to be a combination of fun and relaxation, so be sure that your parents enjoy an ample supply of both on the vacation that you plan for them. 

Kimberly Sharpe - Senior Advisor

Kimberly is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.