Image: Senior couple walking a waterfront

Summer-Friendly Vacations for Seniors With Disabilities

Summer-Friendly Vacations for Seniors With Disabilities

For older adults who wish to travel alone or with their loved ones, details are key. Critical elements such as comfort during movement, assistance for persons with disabilities, and wheelchair access make all the difference.

Indeed, traveling as a senior with disabilities raises multiple questions. For example, what should you do before you leave? Are there resorts just for seniors with handicaps?

Can seniors living in an assisted-living community take a vacation? Are staycations a better option for seniors with mobility issues? If so, what are the best staycation ideas? Read on to find out.

Travel Hacks for Seniors With Disabilities

Choose Companies With Disability Assistance

When you book a bus, train, or flight, review the company’s policy on accessible travel and available provisions. Most travel companies offer assistance for people with wheelchairs, and mobility restrictions, hearing and vision disabilities as required by the law.

In most cases, you can make special travel arrangements beforehand by contacting a helpdesk.

The assistance may include a personal assistant to help you board, and with going through safety-based searches, and push a wheelchair around a station. Communicating beforehand (at least 24-48 hours) is critical because the travel company must confirm sufficient space for your wheelchair, especially if you plan to travel in it.

If you are traveling in a foldable wheelchair, check the policy on packing, folding, and storage restrictions. For example, are there any size or weight requirements? Should you place the wheelchair in a special storage slot?

There are also provisions for traveling with service animals. As with special seating space, communication is vital before you book a ticket. Find out the necessary paperwork to bring your service animal on board, including this U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Service Animal Air Transportation form to prove that the animal is in good health and behavior to go on board.

Confirm the State of Facilities

While public buildings and travel stations are legally required to make provisions for people with disabilities or have mobility restrictions, it’s always wise to confirm the state of facilities before travel. Confirm if the airport, train, or bus station has wide lanes, especially for wheelchairs.

Also check for accessible vehicle parking, accessible bathrooms, and on-board assistance when you need to use the bathroom.

In addition, ensure your vacation address is also accessible.

When researching hotels, check if they have disability assistance, especially to move you from the airport, bus and train stations, and elevators. Book rooms in hotels and AirBnBs with accessible communication channels, such as telephones that support typing and texting for seniors hard of hearing. Ask if there are assistants who understand sign language. Also check into whether there are sensors and a vibrate feature on the beds and doorbells to help a senior to identify emergency warnings or visitors.

Fortunately, when you book a hotel or Airbnb online, you can choose accessibility filters to narrow your search. For example, there are filters for roll-in showers, a bathtub with a seat, handheld showerheads, accessible parking space, accessible bathroom, accessible bed height, door handles, and proper lighting to facilitate movement.

Must-Carry Items

Must-carry items that are critical to your trip. For example, doctor reports to help others understand your disability, medication and direct communication lines to your doctor. This would also include similar documents for service animals and personal assistants.

The must-carry-items may will vary depending on the disability. For instance, for seniors that are hard of hearing, hearing aids, batteries, or backup chargers for hearing devices and instant transcription apps are crucial.

Luggage Shipping

Luggage is one of the most challenging parts of any vacation. As a senior with a disability, moving your luggage through a station and carrying in and out of vehicles can be difficult. Paying for luggage shipping directly to your vacation destination is a great way to avoid struggling with your luggage. The courier company can pick the luggage at your doorstep and ship it to your holiday address.

Use Online Resources

Some vacation destinations are more accessible and accommodating for senior adults. Narrow your online searches by using online resources dedicated to senior adults with disabilities. For example, WheelChair Travel and Friendship Circle publish hacks and destination ideas for senior adults and people with disabilities, especially those using wheelchairs.

Some recommendable vacation spots for senior adults include beaches in Honolulu, Miami, Delaware, and New Jersey.

Theme parks, museums, and theatres are also excellent spots to visit, especially for people with mobility restrictions and wheelchairs.

Some of the best cities for senior adults with disabilities include Scottsdale, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Overland Park, St. Louis, and Huntington Beach. If you can organize a vacation in an accessible city, do so.

Staycation Ideas for Seniors With Disabilities

One of the best parts about staycations is that you already know where you’re traveling. So you don’t have to worry about a new language, culture, laws and regulations, insurance, and other challenges when traveling across borders.

One of the best parts about staycations is that you already know where you’re traveling.

Staycations are an excellent choice for seniors with disabilities because they include limited movement, a vacation in familiar territory, and proximity to health care providers.

Communicating with the host beforehand can help you plan for any changes or get a house tour before booking a home. For example, ask if the host provides special assistance with meals and laundry or if you should travel with a personal assistant for the best vacation experience.

Group Tours and Travel Companies For Seniors With Disabilities

Taking a vacation with a group tour or travel company is an efficient way to enjoy a holiday tour. Tour companies such as Collete, Globus, Grand Circle Travel, Trafalgar, and Road Scholar organize trips for senior adults in independent-living and assisted-living facilities. The tour companies provide trained chaperons who cater to individual needs and organize activities for senior adults with disabilities.


We assist senior adults in independent living and assisted-living facilities. We are ready to help you or your senior adult with a disability enjoy a comfortable home independently or with assistance. Reach out for more information on vacations for seniors with disabilities.