Accessible Holidays for Older Adults
2nd January 2018
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
Enjoying a break away from day to day life is always a wonderful experience, regardless of if it is a staycation, or somewhere exotic. However, many people who struggle with mobility problems often find it difficult to discover accommodation and activities that suit their needs, whether people are looking for wide internal doors, internal stairlifts or just step-free access, there are lots of accessible holidays available.
Cruises have long been associated with older adults, but they are fantastic holidays for so many reasons. The amenities on board offer a luxurious element to every holiday but the most appealing aspect is the ability to visit lots of countries or cities, in one trip, without all the unpacking!
Ben Souza on Cruise Fever was quick to point out this benefit: “I love to travel and visit new and familiar places. With cruising, I can visit multiple places on one trip and I only have to unpack once. I don’t have to check in and out of hotels and lose time travelling between destinations. Cruising is the perfect way to sample several new ports on one trip.”
There are two different types of cruising; ocean and river. While ocean cruising offers you the opportunity to visit lots of countries that are often exotic, river cruises are much more intimate. 50+ Voyagers describes the friendliness of a smaller river cruise:
“River cruising is the most comfortable and tranquil way to explore the ancient and medieval world, specifically for 50 and above aged travellers. Unlike ocean cruising, river cruises offer smaller ships and carry 100 to 150 travellers, which means no queues for meals, a more relaxed and casual travel, and more personal attention from staff. Almost every day the ship ties up right in the middle of a magnificent town rich in history and culture. Travellers can walk to a café or shops or markets or go for a guided city tour.”
50+ Voyagers were also keen to talk about why cruises are so accessible: “River cruises are very accessible for people with mobility problems as they can enjoy the view from the deck as the ship drifts down the river. Many river cruise lines offer discounts to travellers above 55 years of age if the tour is booked at least 6-7 months in advance. Most river cruises are 7 to 10 days long and offer full board facilities with all meals and drinks, sometimes wine is included in the price.”
So whether you fancy a European break down the Danube or the exotic Mekong, there is the perfect cruise to suit each traveller.
Why not spend your time away from home learning a new skill? If you have a passion you have not fulfilled or an interest you wish to explore further, a learning holiday is a great way to follow your hobbies and meet like-minded people. Learn a language with locals or brush up with the masters, a learning holiday is perfect for those who enjoy an active holiday.
Whether you are a budding sculptor or a world-weary watercolourist, an art holiday will give you a fresh perspective on your medium of choice. Feel inspired by seeing the works of masters in person or soaking in the exquisite landscapes of Tuscany, Provence or the Cornish Coast.
Go Learn To Holidays describe their painting experiences as about more than just creative fulfilment: “It’s about expanding your techniques and letting your creativity flourish, intertwining mediums, motifs and styles and willing to be daring and bold with them, and -- most importantly -- sharing laughter, feedback and a glass of wine with others after a day of capturing incredible surroundings together. Hands-on art and painting holidays let you experiment with all of that in any medium -- from watercolour painting, acrylics and oil paints to pastels, pencils and more -- in breath-taking destinations around the world. And with professional artists, lifelong painters and local artists helping you as you fill your canvas, you’ll return with new skills and one-of-a-kind souvenirs.”
“None of our trips have age limits and we often have guests in their 70's and 80's who have a great time on our trips.”
If you are passionate about food and enjoy cuisines from around the world then a cooking holiday may be a perfect getaway. Feel inspired after cooking the same family meals for years or discover your new favourite food in the streets of Lisbon. Cooking holidays are about more than just cuisine, as visitors immerse themselves in the culture as well as the cooking of a country.
Cooking Holiday is quick to assure people of the relaxation element of their getaways: “Make no mistake: a cooking holiday really is a holiday. Regional cuisines are inseparable from the farms and the vineyards, the shops and the markets, and the climate and location from which they sprang. Mouth-watering food and breath-taking scenery have a tendency to go together”
Tasting Places feels the location informs the cuisine and are therefore meticulous about choosing their destinations: “We have carefully selected each location for its character and individuality, to make you feel at home and to gain a genuine insight to the region as an invited guest and not as a tourist. Our portfolio is constantly reviewed so we are able to provide the best of new options as well as edit out those which no longer fulfil our requirements.”
Those with a passion for architecture and the ancient world will thrive in some of Europe’s finest cities. History Tours are popular across a diverse range of age groups so your tour will always contain a variety of people. Unfortunately, Europe’s oldest cities are often not the most accessible with a lack of dropped curbs and step free subways. If people suffer from severe mobility issues and are reliant on a wheelchair or mobility aid, then some cities may not be suitable. If it is just walking over long-distance, then lots of tours will go at a slower pace to suit their guests.
The Cultural Experience grades their tours by how physically strenuous they are, and Level 1 would often be appropriate: “Tours where the group is generally conveyed by coach between stands – with walking confined to a short stroll to each observation point. Although stamina is required for the standing/walking involved at and around each observation point, museum, etc., the tour is generally untaxing physically.”
For those with green credentials and are looking for an eco-friendly retreat, responsible travel should be high on their agenda. If they love to get in nature or give back to their environment, there are a range of breaks that will fulfil their nature-loving needs.
Green Loons offer a variety of breaks across the globe that focus on ethical and environmental experiences. When describing eco-travel, Green Loons said:
“Greenloons specialises in family eco-travel. The term family evokes specific images for some people, but some modern examples of family include grandparents raising grandchildren, multi-generational families living in the same household, and adult children living with their parents (the so-called boomerang generation). As for terminology, ecotourism is the intersection of visiting a natural or wildlife habitat that maximizes the local community's economic and social objectives while minimizing the environmental damage caused by the vacationer's presence.”
For those who lead an active lifestyle, lots of activities are accessible regardless of mobility. Specialised companies are happy to lead small groups of people white water rafting or skiing. Redpoint Holidays cater to those with a variety of limitations:
“The Redpoint Adaptive skiing programme provides specialist equipment and instruction to enable customers with a disability to come skiing with their family, friends or carer. Whether it is a physical or cognitive disability, our adaptive instructors employ a range of equipment and techniques to make skiing possible for many types of people. Previous customers have included people with visual impairments, Alzheimer’s, autism, stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, amputees and wheelchair users as well as many others.”
There are lots of people who are concerned by their limited mobility and find confidence in those companies that specialise in holidays for older adults and limited mobilities. Avoid holiday disasters Enable Holidays, who focus on inclusive and accessible getaways. Enable Holidays believe:
“All too often, it is difficult to find the information necessary to know which hotels, apartments and resorts will best meet your requirements - and getting it wrong doesn't bear thinking about. Well, with Enable, you can stop worrying.
“Enable offers carefully selected holidays to meet varying requirements. We hold detailed information on every hotel, villa and apartment featured, and our well-trained staff will tell you everything you need to know to enable you to make the right decision. Of course, this doesn't mean that every holiday will be suitable for every person, nor every disability. However, it will certainly make your choice so much easier and make planning and taking your holiday a pleasure rather than a worry.”