The joys of traveling don't have to diminish with age. Mature travelers can fly, cruise, and road trip their way to great vacations. But even a short jaunt may require extra preparation. Here are some tips for a smooth trip:
Be candid — Common geriatric issues like limited mobility shouldn't prevent seniors from seeing the world. But travel providers need to know your needs in order to meet them. "Don't be afraid to tell people that you have special requirements," says Carol Randall, cofounder of Access-Able Travel Source, an Internet resource for elderly and disabled travelers. Planes, trains, buses, and ships can all accommodate people who have trouble getting around. Most airlines are happy to whisk slow walkers through terminals in wheelchairs or on electric carts. They also have equipment to help disabled customers board.
Plan ahead — It's easy to find hotels with specially equipped rooms. Reserving in advance is a good idea.
Gear up — ScootAround (888-441-7575), a firm with more than 500 locations, will drop off and pick up wheelchairs, walkers, and electric scooters at hotels and cruise ships. People who need an oxygen tank can rent portable equipment from TravelMed International (888-878-3627).
Get insured — Paul Taylor, owner of Westmoor Travel in Sunnyvale, Calif., suggests elderly road warriors buy travel insurance so they can get their money back if they cancel. "We do a lot of business with seniors; we practically insist they take this insurance," Taylor says.
Be realistic — Even under the best of circumstances, travel can be exhausting. Plan sightseeing in half-day segments and take it slow.
Photography by Steve Bly
This article was first published in November 2002. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.