Q: My mother loved to travel the world when she was younger. I am caring for her at home, and she needs more help now, but I would love to plan an international trip that both of us can enjoy together. What do we need to know before we go?
A: Taking time to make memories together doesn’t have to be stressful for either of you. Here is a checklist that will help you navigate an adventure abroad together:
- Plan a trip that is appropriate to her fitness level and mobility.
- Use airport transfer services to and from the gate. It minimizes stress and saves energy for both of you.
- Hire drivers at your destination who will pick you up and drop you off at curbside to eliminate extensive walking.
- Choose hotels with elevators, air conditioning, in-house restaurants, and wheelchair services.
- Use a wheelchair for longer distances, if needed, to help your mom conserve energy and be able to participate in more activities.
- A walker can be a big help since it also gives Mom a place to sit if you have to stand in line or rest while touring.
Finally, pack lots of patience. Plan fewer outings than you might with a younger person, but prepare to enjoy them fully. Savor each moment together and relax.
Q: We recently moved to Seattle. What are some of the best “must-see” destinations for people with special mobility needs?
A: Seattle is a beautiful city to discover! If I had to pick one place that has the most wheelchair accessible attractions, it is the Seattle Center, where you’ll find the EMP Museum, packed with displays on music and pop culture; Chihuly Garden and Glass; the Space Needle; Pacific Science Center; and the Armory food court in one location. For other great wheelchair accessible attractions all around the United States, check out wheelchairjimmy.com.
Q: My husband and I love to travel, but it’s not as easy as it used to be. Even some cruises require a hefty amount of walking. Do you have any suggestions for vacations that don’t require a high level of fitness?
A: Travel is a great way to expand your boundaries, both physically and emotionally. Aging should never limit your adventures. Here are some tips to help you plan a great time away:
- Research. Pick tours according to accessibility. Think through each activity in light of the time and energy it requires. How much walking must you do? Are there choices like scooters, people to help with heavy luggage, and easy access to restaurants?
- Plan tours with transportation options. Whether by motor scooter, bus, Uber, or a rickshaw, minimize walking and maximize ride options for your outings.
- Pack light. You may have to carry everything you bring, so choose smaller and lighter items. Coordinate your wardrobe to transition easily between daytime and evening events. Pay special attention to comfortable shoes.
- Do something new. By expanding your boundaries and doing something you have never done before, you will make the trip memorable. It’s even better if you can share the experience with friends who can also help along the way.
For the trip of a lifetime, my favorite Seattle-based adventure company is Expedition Trips. Whether you visit the Galapagos, the Alaska Inside Passage, or stay local with a Columbia and Snake River cruise, you will experience an exciting adventure without the physical trials. Visit them at expeditiontrips.com.