Traveling with a family member or a friend who has a disability doesn’t have to be challenging or difficult. All it takes is open communication to set expectations with your travel partner and time to plan and create an itinerary that can work for everyone on the trip. The New York Times recently published a terrific Q&A article on this topic called, For the Disabled Traveler, Strategies for a Successful Trip.
I also find that the advice applies to traveling with family members who are older, have a chronic disease, have limited mobility, or who may need a little more space and time during the journey. We experienced this during a recent trip to Las Vegas to visit my grandmother.
Las Vegas is well known for the large and popular conventions it hosts throughout the year and Cowboy Christmas is no exception. Held every year in December during the National Finals Rodeo, Cowboy Christmas showcases everything from boots and clothing, ranch and farm supplies, to cowboy-themed handicrafts. The expo is large and covers approximately 400,000 square feet at the Las Vegas Convention Center. It is a fun event, and, of course, Grandma wanted to go! Here’s what we did to make the most of our experience.
- Fuel up. We slept in and started off our day with a late brunch so that we would have plenty of energy to take on the convention floor.
- Ditch the walker. My grandma is pretty agile and fast when it comes to getting around with her walker; however, using a walker to navigate a large and crowded convention center is another game entirely. We decided to ditch the walker and took her lightweight wheelchair instead. By using her wheelchair, we were easily able to roll past the exhibitors with ease.
- Pack an emergency snack stash. Just because we started off with a solid brunch didn’t mean we wouldn’t feel hungry later in the day. We made sure to pack water bottles and snacks to help keep the edge off.
- Don’t take it all in. Cowboy Christmas is GIGANTIC! We saw what we wanted to see and then said goodbye to the rest. No regrets.
- Have some fun. Not only can you find cool things at Cowboy Christmas but there are actual cowboys and cowgirl princesses everywhere. We were able to snap a few pics and grab autographs with some of the up-and-coming rodeo stars of the National Rodeo Finals. I’m pretty sure this was my Grandma’s favorite part of our experience!
- Share stories. Going to a big event like Cowboy Christmas may conjure up some memories. Don’t be shy and share these memories with each other! You may have a good laugh and you might learn something new about the people you love.
Dorothy Hoffman is the creator of the travel blog, Squirts and Seniors. Dorothy is a Gen X-er who writes about traveling with her young son and aging parents.