October 24, 2018
By Jill Penley
It seems that more seniors today are traveling than ever before, and there are many reasons for this trend. The increased medical and health technologies are now enabling people to live longer, healthier, and more active lives, not to mention that many seniors also seem to have a better sense of adventure than in the past. An increasing number of places now offer senior discounts. Many hotels, car rental agencies, travel companies, and even sights such as museums and parks, will give older travelers a nice price break, making things even more affordable.
At times it becomes easier to let someone else plan trips, and this is where the tour companies come in handy. Travel choices made by seniors vary dramatically from an interesting day trip to an exotic cruise to a faraway destination. Guided tours tend to be famous for this age group, especially if there is an educational element to the trip. Many seniors are also very interested in learning something when traveling, recognizing the value of keeping their mind active and engaged.
Of course, the most popular travel destination for seniors, almost across all age and demographic areas, is visiting grandchildren. With more than 80 percent of seniors having grandchildren today, this only makes sense. According to an AARP survey, 68 percent of grandparents see their grandchildren every one to two weeks. Several members and patrons of the Johnson County Senior Center just returned from a trip to New York City where they enjoyed the city’s top attractions including the Ground Zero Museum, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the iconic Central Park.
“I sure do keep the seniors busy traveling,” said Kathy Motsinger, the center’s director. Motsinger is quick to compliment the van drivers for the center, which include Terry Hodge, Dennis Henson, and Robert Wilson.
“They are amazing and such an asset to the Senior Center,” she said. “All the seniors love them.”
Motsinger jokes that the drivers sometimes compete with one another to see who can become the favorite by spoiling those riding the van.
“It’s so cute to hear their stories after a trip when they get free ice cream or candy,” said Motsinger, “and of course their minds change from day to day who their favorite driver is.” Motsinger, who often compliments her wonderful staff, explains they love it, and it is all in fun.
This week the center is celebrating “Aviation Day,” where seniors will be transported down to the Johnson County airport where they will be treated to a ride. “Dave Garis, the airport manager, and I have been planning this since summer,” said Motsinger. “Local pilots have been so gracious to donate their planes as well as their time to take the seniors up for a ride.” She reports two helicopter pilots will also be there.
Next month, the center is planning a trip to The Farmers Daughter and Fender Farms to enjoy the fall leaves and harvest time, while a visit to the Wytheville Dinner Theatre is on tap for December. “It’s always busy,” said Motsinger. “There is something for everyone.”