Should My Dad, Who Has Parkinson’s, Travel Abroad?

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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My dad and I sat quietly in the living room one early evening. The daily hustle and bustle had died down, and we were enjoying the peace of simply existing in each other’s presence.

When I’m home, I like to mull over existential questions. I want to know what motivates my dad to keep fighting Parkinson’s disease with all of his might.

Does he want to live to see his first grandchildren? If he could do life over again, would he do anything differently? Does he regret anything? Is he happy with the choices he’s made? Is there anything he still hopes to accomplish?

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Between TV commercials, I asked him a question that had been weighing on my mind.

“Dad, if you had the opportunity to participate in a program like Make-A-Wish, what would you do?” I barely thought about the words as they left my mouth.

Dad looked pensive for a few moments. His face was stoic, but his lips were pursed in thought.

“I’d go back to my second home,” he said. Longing crossed his face as he described the contents of his heart.

Dad spent several years in Austria, where he studied music and explored the richness of life. I know what it’s like to better relate to a foreign culture than your own. It doesn’t surprise me that he never stopped missing Austria.

“What if I take you?” I asked. As an adult, I’ve become almost as enthusiastic of a traveler as my dad. I find airports comforting. Public transit is similar enough in most countries across the world. And it’s never particularly difficult for me to navigate hostels or hotels.

Travel with Parkinson’s might require some accommodations for my dad, but I think it’s still possible. We could go for a week, or even a month.

“My traveling days are over,” Dad said, just as quickly as I dreamed up the idea of going.

His response wasn’t surprising, but it did sadden me. I’m sure that travel with Parkinson’s would be substantially more complicated than without it. But what if he had a support network? What if we made plans and adjustments that would keep him comfortable, even if he was thousands of miles away in Europe?

I decided that I’d keep working on him.

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Nora Bucko avatar

Nora Bucko

What if I take you?” I asked. As an adult, I’ve become almost as enthusiastic of a traveler as my dad. I find airports comforting. Public transit is similar enough in most countries across the world. And it’s never particularly difficult for me to navigate hostels or hotels.

I really have no comment but to applaud your devotion to your dad and your optimistic view of travel. I hope you get some good advice here.

Roberto Naranjo avatar

Roberto Naranjo

I have been diagnosed with PD in 2013 and my balance is a bit off, my gait is not what it used to be, but unless I am in a wheelchair or completely depended on someone I will not give up my foreign travels. I was in Germany in 2019, and we are planning going there as soon as covid subsides. Going on a trip will add so many needed neurons. Just talk to his doctor and if he/she is ok with it do it!!

Cat avatar


I support your idea to : "keep working on him"...

As a PWP for going on 7 years, the thing I miss most in these Pandemic times is TRAVEL. My hubby and I were traveling to Europe often prior to 2020, and when I read the title of your story "Should my dad, who has Parkinson's, travel abroad?", I jumped to the conclusion that you meant: 'during the Pandemic'.

But, I quickly realized that wasn't what you were referring to, but more regarding the difficulties of getting about with PD.

That being said, I'm sure he knows better than anyone what his limitations are, but nudging to convince him of the possibilities in accommodations both in airports and hotels may be all he needs.

That and the fact that you are a willing and capable caregiver that can help him achieve a bucket list dream.

I truly admire and appreciate your willingness.

Here's to traveling with Parkinson's...I can't wait to get back to Europe...but definitely at my own pace. Hope you both get back there soon!

Beth T Browne avatar

Beth T Browne

I will be 85 in 2 weeks. I was diagnosed 2020 but had it in 2019. I still can drive, in an exercise class and trying to do more, as I cannot handle the CarpaLevaDopa or Rytary. People and doctors say I am not your usual 85 yr old in appearance and attitude. I have lost some of my short term memory which concerns me. My first granddaughter (only have 2) had her first child, a boy, last August. He just turned 6 mo. They live in WA and I am in CA. I always hoped I would live to be a Great Grandmother. Not sure I can travel alone, but would like to go see him this summer. Any advice is appreciated.

fakhiuddin ahmed avatar

fakhiuddin ahmed

My wife and I traveled a good deal, including Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and south America. She is 82 years old, and we will be taking a river cruise in Europe, compensation for her easy fatigue.

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

Mary Beth Skylis

Thank you all for your kind feedback!

Yes, traveling in the era of Covid is certainly a concern, too. I haven't left the country since the pandemic began. But my dad is vaccinated, and he still gets around fairly well on his own. And I'd really like to see him take a leap of faith to travel to some of his favorite places at least one more time. We'll see if I can get him to change his mind!

Donna Wojdula avatar

Donna Wojdula

What is a river cruise like traveling with a person with PD? Do the tours have handicap access as we do here in the states? I would like to take my husband on a river cruise in Europe as we did a few times before he was diagnosed with PD.


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