For Millennials like myself, Flexible Independent Travel (FIT) holidaying is the norm. For older folks like my parents, more accustomed to tour packages and mass tourism, this is a whole new world.
Recently, I brought my parents to Singapore, a perfect location with favourable weather, delicious food, exciting activities and a vibrant culture, and also a destination which I have been promoting for the past three years. It was the first time my parents enjoyed FIT tourism and they LOVED it.
If you are thinking of taking your parents on a similar adventure, here are tips:
1. Start with a short haul destination first
Remember that your parents are new to FIT travel. Starting somewhere close and with a similar culture (like Singapore) always helps to ease their nerves.
2. Better flight schedules and accommodation make your life easier
You parents may not be able to stand for a flight scheduled at 3 in the morning or sleep in a hostel with a shared bathroom. Pay more for a good flight schedule and a comfortable hotel in exchange for content faces. Why not? One more tip: choosing a hotel with breakfast service also means you can sleep longer when they are enjoying themselves.
3. Ensure that the itinerary is not too fast paced
Older generations tend to tire more easily, and thus I would caution against including activities that are too "exotic". I would also recommend not packing too many activities in the itinerary such that you and your parents have to rush from one place to another.
4. Ensure that everyone has enough sleep
Try to avoid late activities after 10pm and make sure that you leave at least 6 to 8 hours rest so that you and your parents feel recharged and refreshed from the exciting daytime activities.
5. Stick to healthy meals at a regular time
Senior citizens usually prefer healthy eating at a regular time. Although it’s always good to try something different, remember to stick to their meal times and make sure there are light items in their meals.
6. Put market and supermarket visits in your itinerary, I am sure they would love it!
You might not enjoy visiting them, but markets and supermarkets are always good destinations for your older travelling partners to see and experience something that are connected with their daily lives (you just have to make sure they don’t buy too much!).
7. Stay flexible
You never know what might surprise you during the trip. Just stay calm when facing unexpected changes and be flexible with the itineraries – it’s one of the fun parts of FIT travel.
8. Enjoy the trip with them
And finally, take loads of photos - but make sure you print them afterwards and put them in your family album!