Newspaper article International New York Times

Tips for Traveling with Elderly Parents

Newspaper article International New York Times

Tips for Traveling with Elderly Parents

Article excerpt

Caring for an aging parent can be stressful. And one thing that could help -- a long-needed vacation -- sometimes only adds to the stress.

Caring for an aging parent can be stressful. And one thing that could help -- a long-needed vacation -- sometimes only adds to the stress.

"It's challenging to go on vacation and leave Mom and Dad at home," said Val Grubb, who writes the blog Travel With Aging Parents. That's why she vacations with her octogenarian mother, even to such far-flung places as Cambodia, Hawaii and Spain.

Ms. Grubb added that she values this time with her mother all the more since her father died in 2005 -- before he ever got around to traveling with her, as they'd been planning to do for years.

"Traveling with a parent, as they get older," she said, "is so much more special because you just don't know."

Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Ms. Grubb, who gives tips to elderly travelers and their families.

Q. When planning a trip for you and your mother, what do you look for in a destination?

One question I ask is how the city can be easily navigated. I do Internet searches of the city's name and "wheelchair accessibility" or "navigating with special needs." Let's look up Prague, for instance. Here's a site that talks about airport transfers. Here's an organization that can help you find a taxi. You can also find sites about sidewalk conditions, the quality of public transport and so on.

If the city has dicey public transportation, I'll need to hire drivers. When we went to Angkor Wat, we used a van, for example. In Battambang, we had drivers take us around on motorcycles, which when you look back is completely frightening, but worked out just fine.

Q. What about hotels?

I try to find one that is near the sights and that works with me on the things I need. I rent wheelchairs from all of our hotels. …

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