Do your parents dream of globe-trotting after their retirement? My mum has been touting this idea to my family ever since I was a teenager. She would often remark in Mandarin, “我退休后，我要玩游世界。” Her biggest fear is that she would be forgotten and left behind at home, alone, while her grown children go on vacations. My parents are approaching their twilight years, even though I would very much like time to come to a standstill. I have finally grown up, but now they are old. They are no longer who they used to be – strong, energetic, and always on the go for a long weekend vacation amid their hectic work schedule!
When I had the opportunity to plan a trip for my parents to visit Europe this year, I was immensely excited! My mum missed the opportunity to visit Europe 32 years ago with my dad when he went on an extended work trip because she was pregnant with me. 32 years later, her baby girl brought her on an adventure to see some of the most beautiful alps in the world.
I am happy to play a part in fulfilling my mum’s dream of travelling around the world. In a world where some people are forced to flee their homeland, we are immensely privileged to be able to travel as a family to enrich our life experiences.
When I dwell on the fragility of life, it saddens me that we may not have much time left to spend together. Therefore, for every moment that we have together now, I am immensely grateful. I want to create more memories with my parents. I hope to inspire you to spend more time with your parents and repair any strained relationships to the best of your ability.
Travelling may not be your parent’s cup of tea. Nevertheless, if it happens to be, and you are also transiting to the role of planning a trip for them, I would like to share 3 tips that I have learned with you.
1. Book Accommodations with lifts
With a single objective to minimise cost, half of the accommodations that I booked did not have a lift. I did not realise that climbing more than 2 flights of stairs was hard on my dad’s knees.
Moving forward, I will definitely check if the potential accommodations are equipped with lifts.
2. Reduce the walking duration
At the start of the trip, my dad was limping and wincing in pain when we had to walk for more than 20 minutes. However, I noticed that by the end of the trip, he could walk further without a break. Therefore, I am still learning if walking is good for my parents or causes further ligament tears.
Nevertheless, for our next trip, I will try to reduce the need for walking in the future by perhaps renting a car instead of relying on public transport.
Having a spot to sit and rest after every 15-20 mins of walking was helpful to ease his joint pain and enable him to walk further over the 21 days trip.
3. Buy travel insurance and have a contingency plan for illness
The most important tip, which you may probably be aware of, is to buy travel insurance with sufficient coverage. Unfortunately, the medical coverage for travellers above 70-year-old reduces significantly for most travel insurance plans that I am aware of. Therefore, do not assume that the best policies for your parents are the same as yours. I personally believe it is important to list down the biggest risks that you would like to insure your parents for and research extensively to identify the most suitable or least bad policy.
As my parents are fast approaching their 70-year-old mark, I felt a sense of urgency to travel as much as possible with them before their travel insurance coverage reduces dramatically.
Another mistake that I made was not to insure them till they land in their home country. Add a day or 2 to the length of the policy coverage if they are taking long-haul flights.
What are some tips that you have? I would like to hear them too! Leave them in the comments and share this article if you like it!