Travelling tips - Research and Plan 3

Research where you want to go

Now you have your bucket list, or a to-do list of places that your Elderly Traveller wants to see.

It all begins with lots of research.
Use online and traditional sources of information, such as guide books and brochures, to list out the places you want to go to and the things you want to do, how long for and when.

I always have a look to see if my local library has any guide books.
We are lucky Gold Coat City Council has a wonderful resource of guide books. I select and reserve them online. (Might do a blog entry on how to do this soon)

I  depend on mum to help me with the research for our trips. I pick up the guide books, she reads them through and often highlights hot spots weeks in advance of me. She will also research and take notes on the item in more detail. I will write down State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg -  and she will write State Hermitage Museum - Gauguin exhibition second-floor rooms of the Winter Palace , first-floor rooms Raphael's Loggias. She will find what she wants to see then I try to schedule it.

Read plenty of reviews and forums to see what others have done to help guide you and give you advice.

The more information you gather before you go, the better you’ll be prepared, and the less vulnerable or anxious a elderly traveller will feel. 

So once I have  the place or places we want to visit and a rough idea of when we want to visit then we get to the next stage

Choosing what sort of holiday

All-Inclusive  package tours
Though I have never been on a long All-Inclusive vacation  I can see the merits.
I have been on a weekend package tours
These type of vacations often include being met at the airport, airport transfers, pre-chosen hotels, breakfast and dinner daily, a guide during the trip and your transportation -usually a coach. It has a set itinerary and set sights. you know exactly what you are getting.
It is sometimes the easiest way to navigate a country in which you do not speak the language, or with a Elderly Traveller whose needs may be different from your own. 
BUT  package tours can also be strenuous, early morning wake up calls, lots of sites packed into one day, and you are sticking to a schedule
Think the movie -If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium or
My Life in Ruins.                                                                                                                                                                                
One of the three night trips we took put me off them for a while.
Mum and I wanted to go to Meteora in Greece but there was a transport strike and farmer protest (that was stopping cars going through) So we booked a package tour.
 Coach, hotel, food, drink, guide, entrance fees. Sounded great. and would have been great, except. There was another mother and daughter on board the double decker coach. You know the type, insists on sitting in the front seat at the top ( even though she cant get up the stairs. )
The mother then proceeded to read the guide book for Greece out very loudly for 3 hours. Not pointing things out, not the history, not even the area where we were, just randomly reading. When we stopped for a rest stop after 3 hours of this I struck up a conversation with the daughter and asked how she likes travelling with her mum. Her reply made me laugh. We ALWAYS do package tours and package trips as she can sit and talk as loudly as she wants and I can put my headphones in and get some sleep.
That summed up the next three days, a poor lonely old lady talking to herself so loudly no-one near her could have a conversation but everyone was to frightened to talk to her in case they get  'stuck' with her the rest of the trip.
We both went through so many headache tablets that trip.

All-Inclusive river cruising
While we have not done this , it is on our To-Do list
I know quite a few people who have done these.  If you like cruising but are not keen on open water, waves, high seas, and big boats this can be the prefect alternative.

The actual cruise itineraries are of course limited to the rivers, so you wont be going to any towns not too far from the river, but in saying that Europe has a magnificent waterway system so many cities and town are close, itineraries include  Budapest to Amsterdam, Paris to Prague Rhine and Moselle. Or Asia  like Lower Mekong River through Vietnam & Cambodia

As this is All inclusive the river cruising includes your accommodation, your meals and most cruises include at least one city excursion in each of the stops.
I believe that all cabins on river cruising ships have big picture windows so you could just stay in your cabin with a glass of wine and watch the scenery unfold.  The ships move at a lovely leisurely pace through the countryside

When I have done one of these cruises I will put up a  blog entry page about it, giving you the details.

Im so taken with cruising as a way of seeing the world with an Elderly Traveller I have dedicated a whole section to it alone, the tips, joys and challenges. (Travels with my  mum - Cruising)

Needless to say when planning your cruise the choice of cruiseline is of  upmost importance.
If you want to have a nice time relaxing on ship, seeing interesting ports, sleeping by a quiet pool on deck then I would think twice about booking a cruise that is known for entertaining children, as that will be their main passenger, families with kids. That not is to say they aren't great but that's not the type of cruise that my Elderly Traveller wants to do. She says if she wanted to see a cartoon character she would visit his land.

Some may take this as elitist or snobbery but I have always found that in life you get what you pay for.
If you book a three star hotel you will be staying with other who booked a three star hotel.
If you wanted a 4 star hotel but hoped to save a little money by booking a three star hotel, you will be still staying with others who booked a three star hotel. Maybe some of them were really two star hotel people who splurged for a three star just this once.
 While this may not matter somewhat if its just somewhere to return to to sleep after a night exploring, on a cruise ship it takes on a whole new meaning.

Entertainment , I've been on ships with  the basic entertainment consisting of belly flop competition, hairy chest competitions, pirate chest competitions - yep females only, Lovely legs Men, bingo, limbo, passing balloons between strangers with out using hands.   I enjoy a laugh as much as the next person but if I want to relax by the pool do I want this Does mum want this , NOT AT ALL. Shes not even a fan a big screen playing a movie or music videos while she eats by the pool.

If the cruise line or a particular cruise is marketed towards a certain group then that's what they will attract. The Fun ship wont be for the laid back relaxer.
If the cruise website says Luxury, Intimate, Gracious,Gourmet  I doubt if there will be belly flop competitions

Continued on Travels with my  mum - Cruising

Do It Yourself

These are the holidays where you book the flights, choose the accommodations.
While these can be the hardest or most time consuming to organise. they can also be the most rewarding. you get the see or visit exactly what the both of you want.

Be aware that you might end up being the caretaker, the tour guide, the baggage handler, the navigator, and the translator. This can create a lot of stress on you, but as long as you are prepared for it you can work around it.
I always schedule me time. Sometimes it may be that mum sleeps in while I get up early to take that must-have photo at sunrise, or we go back to the hotel so she can have a siesta while I see things she is not interested in.
We always work out a pace that she is comfortable with. If all the walking is tiring her, and I can see the signs, then I suggest we go to a coffee shop and while she sits, I go off for a set time. Be warned, though, that these rest stops - which are lovely for people-watching, reading your email  - can add to your expenses with all the cappuccinos or vino's.

Research and Plan 4

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