One of my friends was planning international travel for his folks. The folks were sixty years and they were his Nana and Nani (नाना नानी). That was a challenge I was ready to take. The challenge was to send them alone and they were on their first international vacation. So how do I make it happen, the Nana and Nani international holiday? First, I decided to send them to Pattaya!
The big challenge was how to make a tour that was apt for that age. I had to make an interesting tour where they see and discover but also keep it less hectic. This tour had to have some of the best options for travel. Something like a taxi to Delhi airport, a good flight like Thai Airways and some good tours which did not put a challenge to do it.
Pattaya is a city known for its beaches, 24 hours nightlife, awesome food, cheap accommodations, and endless beer bars. The Jomtien Beach Area is best for families, North of Pattaya is best for couples and the rest is best for singles. Coral Island is not the only attraction in Pattaya. There is Sanctuary of Truth, Floating Market, The Teddy Bear Museum, Art in Paradise and Mini Siam. There is also the Underwater World, Dolphin Show, Noong Nooch Garden, Fantastic Alcazar Show and for the young at heart the Cartoon Network Amazone.
The challenge started at home. They were living in Chandigarh and we all know that Chandigarh International Airport has nothing international in it. They had to take a flight from New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport. This leg of the journey is the most hectic one even for physically fit travelers. Not only the departure but the arrival is a big pain point. You have to go to the airport three hours early. Then the travel from Chandigarh takes 8 to 9 hours to reach the airport. The flight lands late evening or midnight and then you have to travel back home. I have done a detailed blog on traveling to Indira Gandhi International Airport from Chandigarh here.
Solutions and Options
I recommended a taxi for them. The reason, you get a home pick-up where the relatives can help with the luggage and the drop was right in front of the T3 Terminal. Since they were a couple the cost of a taxi came to around INR 1100 each. The cost was a bit high but for comfort, it was worth the price. With two couples the cost would have been just INR550 each. If Nana-Nani Jee has no problem walking they have the option of taking the evening Shatabdi.
If you have relatives or you do not mind spending a bit more, you can travel one day early. You can stay at your relatives or a hotel near the airport. These hotels charge you as less than INR1500 per night. This way it does not get hectic for Nana-Nani Jee.
You can get `visa on arrival’ for Thailand which is also free of cost till 31 April 2020. It can be revoked anytime and then it will cost you THB2000. None the less it is free now, what does free visa mean you can learn here. The visas on arrival queues in Bangkok are very long. Even the fast track queue where you pay THB200 can be a bit testing for senior citizens. I recommended them to get the visa done from India itself. It is very easy you can learn about it here. The cost of applying for a visa from India is INR800. This includes the VFS fee of INR525 and INR275 as a travel agent processing fee.
Once the visa was done from India it took hardly half an hour to clear the customs.
The flight should resonate with your hotel check-in. Yes, that’s the benchmark. You get to check-in your hotel at 1400hrs. If you arrive too early at 0300hrs like most of the Spice and Indigo flights you cannot check-in into a hotel. You have to pay extra for that night/morning. Thai Airways is the only airline that provides not just night flights but day flights too. The flight timings suit our senior citizens. Now, another good part is it’s a full-service flight. The cost of the ticket includes food and hard liquor. Not only that, if you are vegetarian they have Jain meals, Indian Veg Meals, Vegan Food and more. If you want these meals you have to book it at the time of booking otherwise you will get the regular meals.
With senior citizen packages, we as travel consultants put comfort first and then the cost. Thai airway is a premium flight. The other airline we suggest from Delhi is Nok Scoot. This is a budget airline and all you get is water. You have to pre-order the meal otherwise you won’t get it at all. The reason for suggesting this flight is the `Timing’. The flight reaches at 0700hrs from there it takes two hours to reach Pattaya. Let us also add one hour to get out of the airport. Have a chillout breakfast on the way. If you reach the hotel one or two hours early they do give you the room. Remember the check-in time at the hotel is 1400hrs.
The flight from Bangkok to India usually flies back around 2200hrs do not forget to book a meal for our grandparents.
The new international airports are huge and for boarding your flight you have to walk a long distance. For senior citizens who have trouble walking, a wheelchair is provided free of cost by the airlines. You have to inform the airlines 48Hrs before the time of departure. Once you get your boarding pass it becomes the responsibility to make sure you catch your flight. Once you get down at your destination they will even drop you to the gate where your taxi/van awaits.
You can carry your wheelchair also. But it should be foldable and should not weigh more than 31kgs. You should send the technical specs to the airline to get to their approval. Here is another good link to know about wheelchairs. You can also check the Thai Airways website for wheelchair formalities.
Since it was their first travel and keeping in mind the age we suggested them to just do Pattaya. The usual packages are four nights with two nights in Bangkok and two nights in Pattaya. In this package, we kept four nights in Pattaya. We kept only one city Pattaya becasue if you do Bangkok you spend maximum time traveling. This way they were able to relax and enjoy the place too.
We did put a lot of tours in this package. Our team wanted to give them the experience of Pattaya and its attractions. We kept two tours a day so that they have ample time to rest in between tours. Even the tour duration was taken into consideration. Coral Island is not suitable for senior citizen so we did not even put it in the itinerary.
Hotel selection becomes crucial when you are dealing with a senior citizen. We made sure that on the Nana Nani international holiday we provided a hotel in the north of Pattaya. The hotel in this area is top notch and scenic.
Since comfort comes first we also made the package with all three meals. Pick-up and drop from the airport to Pattaya hotel. All tours and meals were with transfers. Flights, hotels, and visas were also done.
You can send senior citizens to international holidays. If you keep in mind the small nitty-gritty the tour will be a success. We as travel consultant do take care of small details. We even took care of the travel insurance which cost INR500 per person. Then the local sim card costs not more than THB300. I hope this blog help you plan the tour for your grandparents. You can always call us to organize it for you.
Eccentric Blogger, Traveler and Consultant.