Other than when I was a child, I never really had the opportunity to travel with my parents. I would visit them in Florida when they spent some time there, but that’s pretty much it. Because of that, I think I missed out on some quality “grown-up” time with them. Now, they’re in their late seventies and both of them have mobility issues. Traveling with aging parents can be tough, especially if a good deal of physical activity expected.
My mom is in her late 70s now and has arthritis that has progressed pretty far.
My dad is six years older.
In other words, walking around a city all day probably isn’t something either of them could do.
I live pretty far away from mom and dad. They live in eastern Canada and we’re in Atlanta, USA. We don’t get to see each other very often. When we do, it’s usually just a short trip.
Most of my friends have moved away from their home town, and while I like to visit my parents, there really isn’t much to do in my hometown other than that.
To be honest, after about four days, I’ve had it!
Traveling with aging parents
So how do you go about traveling with aging parents that doesn’t involve a lot of physical activity. Here are a few things we shot down immediately (but are still on our own list):
- Hiking the Inca trail
- Excursion to Everest Base Camp
- Hitchhiking through the Outback
We settled on taking y parents on a Caribbean cruise.
I’m not a huge cruise fan, but I do like them. Why? Because you don’t have to think. And sometimes not having to think is the best vacation.
You just buy the tickets, get on the boat, eat & drink till you explode, and go home. If you want to do stuff in between, perfect! But there is very little planning involved – you just go.
Cruising is your parents’ demographic
So that’s what we did. In fact, we found such a great deal that Halef and I not only brought my parents on the cruise, we also brought my brother and sister.
Even though it was six of us, and I paid for the flights for my parents to come down, it was still FAR cheaper than, say, tickets to the U.K. for me, Halef, and my parents. Not to mention the costs of hotels and meals.
All six of us headed on a seven-day Caribbean cruise. Except for me and Halef, it was everyone’s first time cruising.
What to do for fun in cruise ports
- Halef and I got to do some diving. My brother and sister tried “Introduction to SCUBA themselves.” Mom and dad walked around the port area and did some shopping.
- We all went into Belize City and did a walk that might have been a touch too long for mom. But everyone enjoyed it – even though it started to rain and ruined mom’s hair (which, amazingly, popped right back into place when it dried off!)
- Cozumel, Mexico
- We left my mom back at the port to shop some more, while the rest of us did a tour of some Mayan ruins site for the day (courtesy of my dad!). We all got to do what we wanted to do. Mom likes shopping. What can I say?!
What to do on a cruise ship
On board the ship (the Carnival Valor, by the way), we made it a point to always have dinner together. It was perfect because I’m sure my mom and dad loved seeing me put on something other than my usual shorts & T-shirt.
Night time was family time. The great part about a cruise is that you can do things with your parents that you probably never would have done before.
After dinner, we’d either head to a show, go play bingo, watch live music, head to the piano bar, or to a movie on the lido deck.
Great fun for everyone and my parents had a blast.
My mom enjoys the sun. She and my sister also enjoyed walking around the ship looking at all the trinkets and the gift shops, even if they didn’t buy much of anything.
If she felt tired, mom would go to the deck or back to her room for a rest. My dad liked walking around the deck and popping into one of the many self-serve restaurants during the day and helping himself to whatever he wanted. He was usually looking for one of us to hang out with.
My brother, Halef, and I often went to trivia. Usually winning, because I am really f—ing good at Trivia (I have three Carnival trophies. Ahem!)
Saying goodbye was the hardest part
At the end of it all, I was really sad to see everyone leave to go back home. It was a wonderful week seeing my family.
Taking my family on a cruise was some of the best money I’ve ever spent on travel. It was a very relaxing environment. No one had to clean dishes, get groceries, or take out the trash – nothing.
There was literally nothing that week that caused stress to anyone.
If you have parents who are getting on in age, I recommend taking them on a cruise.
Sure, it’s not like you’re going to be a valiant explorer for the week you’re on that ship. And it’s probably not even your thing, but it’s not really meant to be your thing. But it’s an easy vacation, you do get to see a sampling of different places and, this is the point – you do get to connect with your family.
In the end, that was worth it to me.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t give you a tip about the most expensive thing on a cruise – alcohol.
Alcohol tips for cruising
Carnival doesn’t let you bring your own alcohol. They want you to buy their overpriced liquor. But it’s easy to get around. Everyone is allowed to bring one bottle of wine apiece. But who wants to just drink wine?
You’re in the Caribbean. You want rum and vodka!
So, in the days/weeks before your trip, get everyone to consume a bottle of wine in a green or black bottle. Or, if you’re so inclines, consume a bottle for each person by yourself!
Then, go to your local wine-making store and ask for the “cruise kit.” The cruise kit usually contains 6 plastic corks, 6 different labels, and 6 bottle shrink wraps (the plastic wrap that goes over the neck).
Fill those empty wine bottles with your fire water, cork it, and you’re good to go!
Remember, they just x-ray it on the ship. They don’t taste it!
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