Keeping hotel rooms safe for boomer travelers

Even a laptop power cord can be a hazard (Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art)
Even a laptop power cord can be a hazard (Photo credit: Microsoft clip art)

Hotel managers are rolling out the (non-slip) welcome mat for boomer travelers.

One of my close friends (a boomer like me) recently visited an upscale spa resort that shall remain nameless. She had just popped into the shower in her room after an exhausting workout and then stepped outside the stall to reach for bar of soap that was sitting atop the nearby sink. Only in hindsight did she realize she should have been more careful. Her wet feet slid across the slick marble floor, and she wound up in the local ER with a broken wrist—having to cut her trip short.

An accident can happen to anyone of any age but as we age, we are more prone to falls than we were when we were younger, and rehab (as was the case with my friend) is never as rapid as when we slipped on the ice as a kid or fell off a jungle gym.

According to Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest non-profit managed healthcare provider, one out of three adults age 65 and older fall each year. With 11,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, that’s a lot of potential for falls and injuries.

Boomer travelers transform travel

The boomer generation (now between 49 and 67 years) is one of the most coveted markets in the travel industry: Many of us have a lust for travel (as singles, couples and multigenerational groups), tend to be more adventurous travelers, and have deeper pockets than the generations before and after us.

As a result, a number of recent articles in print (New York Times: In Travel We’re All Boomers Now) and online (Next Avenue: The Hottest Trends in Boomer Travel) have documented the ways this generation has transformed the travel landscape. To capture this lucrative market, estimated at $157 billion per year, every segment of the travel industry is responding with bespoke itineraries and enticing hotel room amenities.

Back to basics

With the goal of reducing falls, Kaiser Permanente has created six tips to help minimize unnecessary safety hazards at home. Each of these tips also apply to the hotels, resorts and other properties we make “our home” when traveling and should be basic standards for boomer guests. Their suggestions include:

1 – Reduce tripping hazards such as throw rugs, raised doorway thresholds, or loose carpet.

2 – Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter.

3 – Add grab bars where necessary — in hallways, stairways and bathtubs.

4 – Add a rubber bath mat in the shower or tub.

5 – Improve lighting throughout the house and use night lights in hallways and bathrooms.

6 – Keep a phone and flashlight by the bed.

Unfortunately, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been in hotel rooms that were too dark (although they had atmosphere). And admittedly, although I carry a flashlight when traveling, I never have the good sense to place it close to my bed. As boomer travelers age, we are going to have to realize that staying safe requires a shared commitment and partnership between hoteliers and travelers.

Do you take any safety precautions when staying at a hotel? Do you have any suggestions to add to this list of what hotel managers or their guests need to do to reduce the risks of accidents?

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  1. All good sensible tips, lets hope hotels react and yes a dark hotel room may have atmosphere but lets have more lights.


  2. These are good tips for any hotel and for any age group. However, wow… I didn’t know I was that old and feeble at 51!

  3. An excellent and timely post for me to read. I head off to the AARP Life@50+ next week and I’ve been a tad concerned about going all alone and knowing no one there (for safety reasons, not socializing reasons). I was more concerned about good locks and such, but now I’ll consider the tips on your list, too. Thank you!

  4. Good tips, Irene. Thank you. What I find very important when staying at a hotel is good lighting so I can read – especially in bed, and a nightlight in the bathroom so I can find my way to it if need be. Arline Zatz

  5. Good point, Irene. I’ve been in many hotel rooms with features that made no sense for the traveller — lack of a usable reading light is a common one. Hotel chains should create a set of guidelines for making their properties boomer-friendly, and with our rising numbers, the time has come. Since hotel rooms seem to be designed using a standard cookie-cutter model, it shouldn’t be hard to spread good design right across the industry. The Travelling Boomer

  6. the checklist is a good idea for all hotels to adopt. My constant moan is that there are no grab rails in baths/showers or soap holders. Having had a bad slip in a bath and damaging my back I am extra careful to check this before I get in. One hotel had a “super jacuzzi bath” about 8 ft wide. Only snag – the taps were on the far corner and were impossible to reach unless you actually stood in the bath first. then it took 40 minutes to fill, but that’s another story…
    Re torch, my husband – a frequent traveller – always carried one and was very grateful for it when there was a complete black out in Rome during the early hours of his morning departure. He had to pack holding his torch in his teeth.
    We always leave the bathroom light on if possible with the door almost closed. As we change hotels often on our trips, it helps us get oriented for our night trips to the bathroom. Sometimes though there is a noisy extractor fan attached to the light, so we also carry a nightlight.

  7. The flashlight is also a good idea for walking around outside at night. We are just back from a trip to New Mexico. Our Santa Fe B&B was about 6 blocks from the central Plaza area—definitely walking distance, but the streets were not well lit and the sidewalks were quite uneven. Our walks back to the B&B after dinner would have been more comfortable had we had a flashlight with us. I’ve also been places where we had to walk in poorly lit areas with NO sidewalks — definitely a time to have a flashlight and maybe a reflective vest. My travel clothes tend to be black.

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