The Travel Writer as Life Coach: Kids, Seniors, Pets

Oaxaca kidBy PAT HARTMAN
News Editor

At the travel website Venere, a very good point is made by Amanda Xploradora, a.k.a. Amanda Balneg, who notes that seniors are often the folks with the most time and resources for travel, but they need some extra consideration. Her suggestions on “How to Travel with Seniors” are aimed at the senior citizen’s travel companion, the one who is doing the organizing, who wants to plan ahead with the object of making the journey as smooth and pleasant as possible. For instance:

When planning your trip, consider what time they wake up and how much time they need to prepare. They need to rest every now and then and they also walk slowly so give ample time… At first you might think traveling with seniors can be a hassle but come to think of it, we were all once kids and our parents were the ones who had to look after us during trips.

Balneg writes extensively on travel-related matters, being concerned with such details as finding the right kinds of food to satisfy different dietary needs, and making a plane trip as comfortable as possible, and getting a good night’s sleep in a strange bedroom. Here’s an important one: Before leaving, make sure all your older companion’s meds are supplied for the duration of the trip, because you can’t fill a prescription from your own doctor in another country. When booking an air passage, Balneg advises arranging ahead of time for a wheelchair for your senior citizen. And once on the plane, an elderly person will have an easier time maneuvering from an aisle seat.

There’s a whole subgenre of travel writing that involves good, solid practical advice for the mundane details of moving from place to place. There’s no poetry in it, but plenty of down-home wisdom. Many of us have lofty goals such as good stress management — but how? That’s what we want to know. So thank heaven for the folk who create lists of 10 to 17 tips designed to pump up our skill set and help us to get out of our own way.

The founders of Lonely Planet, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, have just published the 5th edition of their useful book Travel with Children: Your Complete Resource. They concentrate on international travel, but there’s plenty of helpful advice for getting around within the US too. In case you have a specific sort of vacation in mind, such as a holiday at the beach, there are handy sorted lists of, for instance, the top ten child-friendly beach towns .

This rundown from Reuters goes into a little more detail about Lonely Planet’s destination picks. The emphasis seems to be on places with a lot of color and activity, to constantly engage the interest of little people with short attention spans — Oaxaca, Istanbul, Lisbon, Copenhagen, and Singapore are good examples. They also recommend Vancouver, Canada, which apparently has a reputation for being the world’s most liveable city, and that includes living with children.

At SmartMoney, Kelli B. Grant, who often writes about how to stretch a dollar, gives hardcore practical advice on how to fly a pet from place to place, either with you, in a different part of the plane, or even on a plane all by itself, via Pet Airways, a new service that specializes in pets who travel solo. Grant makes the excellent point that “bringing your cat or dog along on a trip can be just as expensive as leaving them home,” and tells how to get the most bang for your buck in either situation. Do not forget, she cautions, to take the animal companion to the vet within ten days of the scheduled flight, and secure that all-important health certificate, as well as proof of all the needed vaccinations.

Suppose you decide to leave the kids, grandparents, and pets at home, and set out on your own? The New York Times reminds us of an oft-neglected alternative: book a cruise on a cargo ship. A working freighter can provide most of the amenities of a dedicated recreational cruise ship, without the frills that some travelers find more of an annoyance, like shuffleboard tournaments. With only a few passengers on board, the shipboard adventurer can have more authentic experiences, like eating meals with the crew and hanging around the actual working parts of the vessel, learning something.

We’d very much like to hear from anyone who has made a trip like this on a ship not specifically designed to pamper passengers. How was it?

photo courtesy of gripso banana prune , used under this Creative Commons license

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2 responses to “The Travel Writer as Life Coach: Kids, Seniors, Pets

  1. amandaxploradora

    Hi Kevin! Thanks for your feedback on my blog at Venere. I found the other topics you listed down interesting – like traveling on a cargo ship and traveling with pets and kids. Cheers! AmandaXploradora