How to safely travel with elderly people


We recently had a oversea trip to Taipei, with 80 years old parents. We firstly hesitated to travel due to this time of cheap Japanese currency. However, I read a book called “DIE WITH ZERO” by William Perkins. He mentioned that the most important thing in our life is to make memorable experiences. Those experiences are not only just happiness moment but also its a memory dividend that our experience may bring for the rest of our life.

So, we decided to travel and it was absolutely worth investing in this trip to make a memorable experience with elderly 80 years old parents while they have a limited life. We were satisfied that we could help them make a special memory.

Throughout this experience, we learnt a lot of lessons on what we did well and areas where we could improve better for safely traveling with elderly parents. Additionally, given my previous career as a hotelier in the tourism industry, I would be very happy to share some tips on how to make a memorable trip!

Especially if your loved one is 80 years old, I highly recommend traveling as soon as possible. No one knows what could happen in a worst-case scenario, and we might regret missing an opportunity.


Arrange a charter taxi

We arranged a round trip from the hotel to the airport via KKdays and a 4-hour chartered taxi to the tourism destination through the hotel concierge. Of course, using public transportation would be much cheaper. However, it’s even more challenging to take public transportation with luggage, especially for the elderly. Ray’s parents had fun looking at the scenery and sleeping along the way! I also realized that the elderly do not mind paying more for convenient transportation.

If you decide to arrange a chartered car to reach your tourism destination, I highly recommend exchanging contact information through messaging apps like LINE or WhatsApp, not just a phone number with the driver. We got lost at the destination, and it was difficult to return to the meeting point. Fortunately, I had exchanged LINE contacts with the driver just in case. I sent him our current location with a picture and asked, “Could you please pick us up here?” using Google Translate. This truly saved us; we couldn’t have returned to the meeting point mentally and physically.

Search disability lifts in advance

If you take public transportation, such as a train, I recommend searching for the location of escalators or disability lifts just in case, to decrease the risk of encountering stairs accidents. Additionally, it would be better to avoid the business rush hours, typically from 7:00 to 9:00 and 17:00 to 19:00, when it’s busy and crowded.

We recently took the subway in Taipei, and it was challenging to use the stairs even for young, healthy adults. However, once we found the lift for Ray’s parents, using public transportation became very smooth! They seemed to enjoy taking the subway as it was a new experience using a token for the ticket.

Choose a flexible rate

Elderly people are more prone to injuries and illnesses than younger one. Consequently, there is a higher likelihood that a trip may need to be canceled. Seriously, you will never know what might happen until the last moment.

Unless you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover the travel expenses, I highly recommend booking a flexible rate that allows cancellation until the very last moment. An advanced rate is typically the most cost-effective but often comes with a “NON-CANCELLATION” policy as per the regulations.

Also, please note that you may be eligible for a senior discount on your accommodation. This time, we stayed at the Marriott Group, where individuals above 62 years old are entitled to this discount. We received approximately a $100 discount for the 2 nights.

Choose a 5 stars hotel

If you have a sufficient budget, I highly recommend booking a 5-star hotel, preferably one located within a 30-minute drive of a hospital. Elderly people are more easy to get tired, so a comfortable bed and stress-free services are essential. If you have any issues or requests, you can easily contact the Front Office or Call Centre, such as asking for a humidifier or extra towels.

Furthermore, the hotel staff not only speak English fluently but are also highly professional in resolving issues and handling emergencies. I have personally witnessed hotel staff calling an ambulance to save a guest’s life during a fainting incident.

To enhance your stay and make it memorable, consider sending an email explaining the purpose of your trip, such as an anniversary or birthday celebration. Usually, 5-star hotels provide a small complementary service, like a cake. This may also increase your chances of receiving a free upgrade or a better room.

While we didn’t receive a free upgrade this time, we got our room key much earlier than the normal check-in time without any additional charge. Moreover, we enjoyed a delicious cake for our parents’ birthday celebration, thanks to my requests via email.

Reserve a restaurant table

Who enjoys waiting in long queues? Elderly people are more easy to getting tired, so I didn’t want to waste their time and energy on unnecessary waiting. Given my strong belief that “Time is Money,” I proactively booked most of the restaurants in advance, making the process as smooth as silk.

Typically, I handle the bookings myself, but if you’re staying at a 5-star hotel, you can ask the concierge team to make the reservation for you. If you don’t have the concierge’s email, you can easily send an email to the official hotel email address, and it will be forwarded to the Front Office or Concierge team.

Arrange a travel insurance

I believe that some credit cards offer overseas travel insurance; however, it usually requires using the card for either accommodation fees or flight tickets to be eligible for coverage. Therefore, please be cautious and thoroughly review the terms and conditions.

For this trip, we paid approximately 2500 yen for travel insurance for our parents, just in case of any unexpected illness or injury during the journey. Some insurance policies can be tricky and may not refund the travel fees for unforeseen cancellations, which is why we opted for flexible rates for both accommodation and flight tickets.


To image the last period

Why did we have such a happy and memorable trip? It’s probably because we imaged it as the last opportunity for an overseas trip with our parents. Consequently, we were able to concentrate on the limited time, making every moment precious for us.

Imaging this as our final chance, we didn’t mind spending more, which significantly enhanced the quality of our trip. Additionally, when minor accidents occurred, we made an effort to enjoy the situation and viewed it as a valuable experience.

Check the route at the destination

Travelling with elderly people and getting lost at the site would be a critical mistake.

One of our biggest mistakes was that we did not check the route at the destination. If you have ever been to 九份, you know it is located in the mountains, with lots of steep stairs on-site. We wanted to go back to the meeting point, but we ended up reaching the wrong site.

We had three potential scenarios to get back to the meeting point:

  1. Walk back along the dangerous steep road where big buses come in and out.
  2. Walk back along the dangerous steep stairs for 20 minutes, consuming our energy.
  3. Take a bus for one stop, which may pose the risk of getting lost again.

Luckily, I was able to communicate with the driver using Google Translate, and he picked us up at the lost location. To minimize all the risks, it’s crucial to check the route for getting back to the meeting point.

Use a SIM card

As I imagine the worst case of parents getting lost in a foreign country, the first thing we do is set up a SIM card in their smartphone at the airport. Additionally, I teach them how to send their current location via LINE app. Normally, I buy a SIM card through Amazon. However, during this election period in Taiwan, we had to register a name and phone number, so it’s better to check the details in your destination country.

An internet package alone is fine, yet I recommend choosing a plan that includes both calls and internet for emergencies, as well as making reservations for restaurants, etc. Overall, it was very convenient, and I feel relieved knowing we can reach them at any time.

Take a break occasionally

Elderly people tend to have weakness in the lower body, so it’s really important to take breaks occasionally. During our day trip, we stopped by a traditional tea house, and it was also a memorable experience of this authentic outing.

I also recommend not packing your schedule too tightly. We roughly make plans for the morning and afternoon. Then, when we have free time, let them choose whether they want to explore or rest at the hotel.

Remember, a plan is just a plan. Especially during a trip, not everything will go smoothly as in a perfect plan, especially when traveling with elderly people or kids. I used to get stressed when I packed a very tight schedule on previous trips.


I learned that it’s very important to consider the worst situation and prepare to minimize risks in advance when traveling with elderly people. Honestly, it wasn’t a particularly reasonable trip, but it was absolutely worth the experience, and the special memories will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

If you are considering traveling with elderly people, I highly recommend doing so as soon as possible before it’s too late. I hope this blog may help with one of your travel plans involving elderly people!

Japanese Blogger
A Japanese working mom based in Nagoya, Aichi. Studied International Tourism Management and worked in a 5 stars luxury hotel in Bangkok for total 8-ish years. Sharing our culture, lifestyle, local tips, and experiences in traveling, especially in Nagoya and Aichi 🇯🇵