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Senior Travels

By Dale Lucht

I am a big fan of the Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible”. The host, Anthony Melchiorri, comes into motels that are in trouble and suggests fixes to get them into the black. Anthony tours the rooms and checks for cleanliness; including dust and mold, body residues, bed bugs and odor. He also checks for safety items; such as enough lights in the hall, locking doors, and working fire alarms. He will also strip off those hated polyester bed spreads. When I traveled alone, and all I did was sleep and shower, I would stay in motels like these. They were cheap.

I’ve learned a lot about hotels and what to look for when you check in. But on a recent trip, I realized that Anthony does not specifically address the needs of Senior Citizens. My requirements have changed since the days when I could pack all I needed in 30 minutes. Now I have to start planning at least a week ahead and make numerous notes and reminders. I have to make sure that I bring compression socks, comfortable shoes, knee braces, pain relievers and pain ointments. I can’t forget my foldable cane or my folding stool; there are not nearly enough park benches out there.

We rented vehicles for our trip, and though we got fairly good gas mileage, and they were safe, there was little leg room or head room. That is how they get good gas mileage. I have a frayed meniscus in one knee and a lot of stop-and-go traffic was really hard on my knee. Cruise control on an open road was like an hour at the spa. I don’t want to appear as a complainer, but when you’re good at something you should do it, therefore I complain. The rentals got us there and safely got us back, so I’m thankful for that.

My main complaint is with the hotels or motels we stayed at. Although we didn’t spend much time in the rooms, as seniors we need more from a room. I’m diabetic; it’s nice to have a refrigerator for storing insulin. Enough lights; our eyesight isn’t the best anymore so we need brighter lights. It would also be nice to have a nightlight available when we have to get up in the middle of the night. Chairs in the rooms are way too low and the chairs in the lounges are way too low and too soft. Most people have cell phones, one room phone is adequate. Keep it on the desk with the alarm clock. The nightstand is required for my cellphone, my fitbit and my CPAP machine, it would be nice to have enough space. Have adequate outlets so I can run these and charge the batteries on my computer or notebook. One room we stayed in had the TV, light, refrigerator and microwave on one outlet. I think it was time to rewire.

Unless you want to do the old backwards – forwards, inside and outside trick with your underwear you’ll want to wash clothes at least once. It would be nice if hotels could have at least one washer and one dryer per floor, but please don’t have a “Not in Use” sign on the machine.

Which brings me to my biggest complaint, the bathroom. A couple of years ago I slipped in a motel shower. I bruised some ribs, so now I travel with a bath mat. If the bottom of the shower feels slippery, I’ll use my mat. When I don’t need it, it’s in my luggage stored in a plastic bag. Most of the showers did have handrails, but spend a few extra bucks and get the textured ones. If your hands are soapy, grabbing on to those smooth handrails can be an experience. I am way past taking a cold shower, so you’ll get steam in the room; put an exhaust fan in the room. It would also be nice to have a heat lamp. My biggest complaint, though, is about the toilets; they are too low. I’m not five feet tall, you’ll need handrails to lift yourself off the toilet. Way back when, when I was in Southeast Asia, toilets were in the floor, you squatted above them. This is the way we evolved and it is supposed to be better for the health of your colon, but I have been conditioned differently. One more thing, the toilet seats don’t fit wide-bottomed people.

I don’t know if AARP rates hotels for senior friendliness; if they don’t it would be a good thing to do. Many hotels have complimentary breakfast which is adequate, but I especially like the cookies at check-in. That is a good thing.

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