In travel, as in real estate, it’s all about the location. Involving your parent in selecting a location sets the perfect tone for your upcoming adventure: together you’ll tackle the world!

First, you should each compile a list of places you want to see. Then compare them, identify similarities (in specific destination or theme), and target your top two or three locations. If your parent is confined to a wheelchair and wants to hike Mt. Everest, well, that may be a problem (although a Sherpa guide could probably be arranged for the right price!). Most of the time, however, your parent will pick a location that, with proper planning, can be navigated by even the most physically challenged. If your parent is reticent about making suggestions (or their selections don’t really interest you), focus on what you’re trying to get out of the vacation in order to entice your parent to be excited about what you’ve picked (i.e., trying new food, seeing new sights, relaxation at the beach, etc.).

Where to next?

Of course, some compromise may be necessary. On my own, I can power through the entire Louvre in a day—something that isn’t possible when pushing Mom’s wheelchair. I soon realized, however, that I actually see more by slowing down instead of trying to cram in everything. And as someone who likes a good meal paired with a delicious wine, I’ve found it isn’t so bad to take extended breaks to stop and smell the roses (or drink the vin!).

As you’re evaluating locations, keep in mind the following considerations before making your final vacation destination selection:

      1. Do your parents have any pre-existing conditions (such as heart or lung disease, or blood disorders such as anaemia) that would make air travel difficult?  If so, consult with their doctor or travel medicine clinic before traveling.
      2. Is the location you’re considering currently under any health warnings?  In early August, the Centers for Disease Control issued a warning due to the appearance of rubella (German measles) in Japan (13,000+ cases).
      3. How mobile are your parents?  Can they navigate a city where walking is the typical mode of transportation (e.g., Rome or NYC)?  Will you be able to navigate the city via wheelchair?  Are taxis readily available?
      4. If your parent needs medical attention while on vacation, what is the availability of 1st class hospitals or doctors?  My mom seriously hurt her knee hiking through the jungles of Cambodia and the only available healthcare was a witch doctor (seriously).
      5. Are your parents sensitive to heat/sun or cold weather?
      6. Does your parent have continence issues?  Will you need quick accessibility to a bathroom?
      7. Do your parents have allergies or other health issues (such as asthma) that could be affected by the location you select?  Several cities in China are ranked in the Top 10 worst cities for smog in the world.  Having been to China many times, even I have issues breathing at times and I don’t have asthma.
      8. If you’re considering a cruise or other water plans, do your parents get seasick?  What type of medical care is available on the cruise ship if your parent becomes ill?
      9. Do your parents get carsick on bumpy, windy roads?  Driving through Ireland, we came across numerous roads that looked post-apocalyptic!  And I got sick on the road to Hana in Hawaii and my mom had to drive!  (Another consideration is can your parent(s) drive if necessary?)
      10. What activities do your parents like?  Water aerobics?  Hiking?  Beaching?
      11. What dietary restrictions should you keep in mind?  Do you or your parents like to go out to eat or cook on their own (this will help determine if renting an apartment may be a better idea than staying in a hotel)

Stay tuned for pre-travel medical advice from Dr. Douglas Zeiger, an expert in the area of travel medicine.