Archive for the Category »Senior Travel «

  Happy Travels With My Mom… An Affordable Way To See The World With Grandparents #homeswap

Travel With Family

When I was a young girl, my mom made family trips a priority. Many years later…  and with  three young children of my own, she and her husband were able to come with us to France for the price of airfare only.

Provence, France

See… we did a home exchange in France for one glorious month. The beautiful thing about a home exchanges is that unlike getting separate hotel rooms, you can swap your home for a villa with multiple bedrooms so your family and your parents can all stay together for …. FREE. Yes, no money is exchanged. It is a wonderful way to travel with extended family.

There are many pluses to this….

Our Home Exchange in the French Riviera

First off, some on fixed incomes have an affordable and comfortable  place to stay. Ours in the French Riviera had a guest house – perfect set up for grandparents coming along.

And…not only are the accommodations free, but you have the option of eating meals at home, saving money there too. And you don’t have to sacrifice culture – if you’ve ever shopped in the Parisian markets or grocery stores for a home cooked meal, you know the experience of which I am talking.

Secondly – bringing along Grandma and Grandpa can work out fabulously for some adult time! You have willing and happy built in babysitters for a night out with your partner.

Winetasting in Chateauneuf du Pape

Or, they can be company in fun activities! Since my mom and her husband like wine tasting, they were my company in the world class Chateauneuf du Pape region!

Then there are the benefits for the kids…. they get to share a rare experience with their grandparents… and if you travel to a region of your heritage, grandparents can also provide illuminating facts about your family history.

Home swapping isn’t for everyone, I admit. The most common question I got was – “What did you do with all the stuff in your house” “Did it bother you to have other people stay in your house?” You have to be comfortable with people you don’t know living in your home. I talked to our exchange  family on the phone before hand, and one member even was in LA for business and we had him over for dinner, so I felt comfortable. I looked at it as company was staying at our house.

Truth be told, I talked to so many different potential Europeans about staying in our house, and discovered that most of them just want to use your home as a base to travel around, and quite possibly wouldn’t be there most of the time anyway.

There are many different companies that offer home exchange opportunities – usually you have to pay a nominal  yearly membership to have access to the listings. A couple that I have tried,or know someone who has tried are: and

Two bits of advice: Plan ahead – many of the better houses started making plans 10-12  months before the trip. Also – get traveler’s insurance. I did have one house cancel on me… luckily, I had enough time to find a replacement, but had it been closer to the travel time, it would have been much more difficult.

It is more work than simply booking a hotel – but worth it. I know my mom would say so :)

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!


  Tues Travel Tip: Old Age is Hard Enough – How to Prepare for Embarrassing Pat Downs?

Warning: Don’t visualize the following details.

The latest story from JFK airport is that two women in their 80s going through security were required to pull down their pants to show a back brace and colostomy bag. We’ve heard similar stories – another senior was forced to remove her wet diaper because the body scanner showed a spot on it.

At what point can we preserve an elderly person’s dignity and yet still practice tough national security? In 2009, a Nigerian man tried to blow up a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day with explosives in his underpants. So the very personal hiding spots are not without precedent.

The TSA has adjusted screening procedures for certain people – Just a couple months ago it modified pat downs of kids under 12 – But I wonder if announcing that is a smart thing to do since a would-be sick-minded terrorist could then hide something on a child.

The problem of screening seniors is only going to grow with the aging boomer population and a whole sea of medical devices requiring special screening: Catheters, prosthetics, pacemakers, and artificial hips….

According to reports, prosthetic devices can possibly set off metal detectors, and catheters and bags are visible on body scanners, making those passengers candidates for more intimate inspections. Metal detectors and wands can disrupt some devices such as implanted defibrillators, so those passengers must ask for pat-downs instead.

Welcome to the post 9/11 world. How do we get around it? Would you want your grandmother to be asked to drop her drawers? A doctor’s note may not be enough. Sensitivity training is going on right now, according to TSA reports.

The best thing to do to avoid a pat down is to be extra careful about removing things from your pockets and your body that may trigger the metal detector or body scanner, and spawn a more intensive search.

If you are traveling with a senior, especially one with a medical condition, make sure to explain the whole security process – and what may happen in a pat down. At least preparing them will reduce some of the shock.

If you or a senior member of the family do need a pat down, ask to go to a private room – which means you REALLY need to get to the airport early.

Of course, there are those, like me, who choose the pat downs. I am a little OCD about radiation – I know I know, they say it is such small levels in the body scanners. I have joked with the women patting me down… changed the subject to ignore the embarrassing situation…and just deal with it. After all, I chose to have one.

But for seniors, we have to practice a little more sensitivity. Any ideas?