Home to one of the world’s most-stunning waterfalls and natural wonders, everyone should visit Niagara at some point in their lives. And if you’re lucky enough to be visiting the area with an elderly parent or loved one, you can be confident you’re going to make great memories you’ll cherish forever. Traveling is such a great way to reconnect and experience the world with elderly family members, and all it takes is a little planning to have a seamless, pleasant and stress-free trip.
Without further ado, here are our top 10 tips for visiting Niagara Falls with a senior or elderly traveler.
1. Book a non-stop flight
We suggest booking non-stop flights whenever possible when traveling with elderly passengers. Layovers are exhausting, and quick connections can be stressful, especially if your family member uses a wheelchair. Non-stop flights will also reduce your own stress, which will benefit everyone in your party. If you’re coordinating a large group, prioritizing convenience is a great idea. In short? A shorter travel time is just easier on everyone.
2. Avoid small regional jets (and the stairclimbing they often require)
Before booking a flight for someone with limited or impaired mobility, it’s always a good idea to check which aircraft you’ll be flying on. The reason for this? Some smaller regional planes and “puddle-hoppers” require passengers to climb or descend a flight of stairs to board and exit the plane. Larger planes use jet-bridges, which are generally much easier for older people, not to mention wheelchair-accessible. Regional jets are also more affected by turbulence, which can be stressful. For these reasons, you may be better off choosing to fly on a larger jet.
3. Take precautions when it comes to medication
Many elderly people take medication a few times a day, so plan ahead to keep on top of their required schedule. Keep medications in your carry-on, and check with doctors to make sure you’re aware of correct times to administer them, as well as prescribed dosages. If the medication is a controlled substance, check about the legality of bringing it into Canada if you’re flying internationally. You can also arrange a medication reminder phone call with your hotel.
4. Be aware to avoid potential slips and falls
When you get to the Falls, be aware that it’s going to be wet in the vicinity, even in designated tourist sightseeing areas. The waterfall generates a constant cloud of mist which condenses on every surface around the waterfall, increasing the risk of slipping for everyone. For elderly travelers, a fall can be very dangerous, so be sure that everyone in your group is equipped with excellent footwear that feature good traction. If they sometimes use a walker or a cane, definitely bring it with you for the Falls portion of your trip. Luckily, there are plenty of handrails around tourist areas, but keep a hand ready in case of accidents.
We also suggest avoiding bringing senior visitors to Niagara Falls in the winter months, as surfaces can get very icy.
5. Go slowly
The “cram-everything-you-possibly-can-into-a-few-days” traveling philosophy doesn’t generally work well when traveling with the elderly. Plan for a more relaxed trip to accommodate senior members of your group. Take a gentle stroll in the Botanical Gardens, plan to take plenty of time when visiting the Falls, and schedule in adequate breaks. Pre-dinner naps to recharge energy can be beneficial for everyone, no matter their age. When you think about it, this is actually one of the biggest joys of traveling with an older person. You can really slow down and appreciate the beauty of the scenery without all the pressure to maximize every second of your trip.
6. Visit Niagara-on-the-Lake
Consider planning a day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a lovely town situated right on the water. The picturesque Historic District is home to some adorable boutiques and shopping streets, coffee shops, bistros, and antiquing opportunities. You can even take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the cute little town. Located around 20km from Horseshoe Falls, the town makes for an easy day trip that has something in store for travellers of all generations.
7. Take a boat tour
Airbus Niagara offers a full-featured, guided tour around the Falls area that includes a Hornblower Cruise right up to the falls (elderly travellers with sensitive joints may wish to skip this one), the upper rapids, Niagara Parkway, the Floral Clock, Botanical Gardens, Queenston Heights, and Niagara Gorge. There’s a crowd-pleasing buffet lunch atop the Fallsview Restaurant, and the tour includes free time to explore Niagara-on-the-Lake. This can be a winning choice and a way to allow senior travellers to make the most of the area, without having to be on their feet all the time.
8. Try a bus tour of Niagara wineries
If the boat tour seems a bit too ambitious for your group, Airbus also offers a bus tour allowing you to experience some of the finest Niagara region wineries. Enjoy tours and tastings at some local favorites, such as Inniskilln, Pillitteri Estates, Reif Estates and Small Talk Vineyards. This tour also includes free time and shopping in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Read related: Taste Canada’s Finest Icewine in Niagara Next Winter
9. Kick back on an Aerocar ride
If your group needs to rest a little from all the sightseeing, you may want to consider taking an Aerocar ride. This historic cable car travels across the river on six sturdy cables, giving you an incredible view of the Niagara Whirpool. You can’t get a better view of the Whirlpool than from the air, and this slow-moving, relaxing ride is a great time to appreciate the breathtaking scenery of the Niagara region. The trip takes about ten minutes, but be aware that you’ll be on your feet. Unfortunately, the Aerocar is not wheelchair-accessible. It’s open from April to November.
10. Figure out ground transportation options in advance
One of the more stressful aspects of traveling by plane is figuring out how to get from the airport to your destination. When traveling with an elderly friend or relative, it can be a bit more complex if mobility issues are a concern. You’ll need to carefully account for whether a certain transportation option is accessible for everyone in your group. Make sure to read and bookmark our full guide on how to get from the airport to the sights in Niagara for a stress-free journey.
As you can see, Niagara truly has something for everyone. We hope this guide will help you and your loved ones thoroughly enjoy your trip, without fuss or stress!