Holiday options for older people

Everyone needs a break from the usual routine and that includes your retired older parents too. A change of scene, the chance to revisit special places with treasured memories, or explore somewhere new can really lift their mood and give them a feeling of wellbeing.

Whether it’s a fun day out to a local attraction, a long weekend, or an escorted trip to somewhere sunny and warm, there are lots of holiday options to choose from, depending on your parent’s health, general mobility, and budget. Some travel companies even offer specialist ‘barrier-free’ holidays for people with disabilities,, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which provide all necessary facilities.

Family holidays

Including elderly parents on family days out or holidays is an ideal option for some people. But being prepared is the key to a hassle-free holiday – especially when the family party includes older parents.

Things to think about when planning a holiday with older people include journey length, accessibility of the accommodation (are there ramps, lifts, grab rails etc.?), suitable activities to keep them occupied, packing the right clothes, organising prescription medications and equipment, and any dietary restrictions.

If mobility is an issue for your parent and you’re planning a UK holiday, you can check if the accommodation is compliant with the National Accessible Scheme (NAS). This helpful scheme makes it easier for you to choose appropriate holiday accommodation for the whole family.

Read our top tips for travelling with older people here.

Holidays for independent travellers

If personal mobility isn’t an issue, there are plenty of options for independent elderly travellers – from city breaks and package holidays to coach tours, self-catering villa holidays, river cruises and special activity holidays.

You can help your parent/s search for a suitable destination online or ask a travel agent or tour operator for advice and suggested itineraries.

You’ll find some great suggestions for UK destinations here.

Another great source of information for the older traveller is – an award-winning travel reviews and advice site for the over 50s. This website also has a good forum section and an informative blog.

Escorted Holidays

If your older parent is still mobile but perhaps doesn’t want to travel independently, an escorted holiday might well be the answer. There are plenty of options to choose from – including coach tours in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe, ocean and river cruises,

Specialist care holidays

If your older parent has more severe mobility or health issues, you may think that organising a short break or holiday is going to be too difficult. But help is at hand in the form of specialist organisations which offer respite care for patients and their carers.

A good source of information about specialist holidays can be found at the online directory Disability Holidays Guide.

Accessible Travel & Leisure specialises in organising ‘barrier-free’ holidays for disabled holidaymakers, wheelchair users and less-mobile travellers, plus their family and friends within the UK, Europe and some global destinations. Options range from escorted tours of Egypt and South Africa, to resort holidays, cruises and even adapted skiing holidays in New Hampshire, USA. Accessible Travel guarantees that transport, transfers and rooms are fully accessible and can provide care as part of the package too. Their Rhine river cruise is popular as it is uses the MS Alegria – the only ship sailing on the Rhine which offers facilities for the less mobile and wheelchair users. This is the first barrier-free ship to cruise the Rhine.

Access At Last is another specialist company catering for the needs of disabled holidaymakers. They claim to be “the only website in the world advertising only accommodation with at least 1 room with a level access shower.” They offer a range of accommodation within the UK and Europe as well as such far flung places as Finland and Thailand.

Another specialist organisation to consider is the national charity Revitalise, which has more than 50 years’ experience in helping disabled people in the UK to take essential short breaks.

Options range from themed excursions and activities (gardens, arts & culture, music, food and sightseeing) to respite breaks at one of their three residential centres located in Epping Forest, Southampton and Merseyside.

Among the specialist respite packages offered by Revitalise is a week-long (and subsidised) break for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, together with their carers.

Travel insurance

You’ll need to think carefully about the type of travel insurance your older parent needs. For regular travellers an annual travel insurance police might make sense – although it’s a good idea to check that it offers value for money and that specific medical conditions are covered. Often, single trip policies might be a better option –

This article on travel insurance may help you assess your options.

There are many insurance companies offering travel insurance for older people (Age UK, Saga, Staysure etc) as well as for those with disabilities. One company that offers cover specifically to people with a pre-existing medical condition (including epilepsy and cancer) and with no age cap is Fish Insurance.

And don’t forget to visit’s online Forum – you can ask questions and hopefully find people who are happy to share their experiences of organising – and surviving! – holidays with their older parent.


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