Rich and Mary Miller have experienced a lot as participants in Passport to Travel, but one of their most memorable visits includes the Biltmore Estate.
All in all, they’ve made six trips to four different sites thanks to the Passport to Travel program.
Initiated by CHHSM’s Senior Services Collaborative (CSSC), the first-of-its-kind travel program launched in 2011. It gives residents at 17 CHHSM-related senior living organizations free accommodations at a sister community for up to two weeks.
“We just can’t say enough,” Rich Miller says. “Whoever thought of this, the concept needs to be used and shared because it not only expresses Christian values, but it meets the needs of senior citizens. It’s really an attraction.”
Mary Cummings, administrative assistant at Cedar Community, says the program has become so popular that they’ve had to start enforcing trip limits.
“The residents rave about it,” Cummings says. “It’s an easy process for us and for residents and they say this is just the most wonderful program. It’s a win-win for everybody. “
Since the program launched, Cedar Community residents have participated in 40 visits to fellow CHHSM communities, with six trips already planned for 2015.
According to a recent Pew Research Center study of more than 1,000 adults age 65 and older, interest in travel is up across the U.S. The report finds that 52 percent of older adults are enjoying traveling more.
Not only is interest in travel increasing for older adults, but seniors are also seeking more adventurous trips and exotic locales, leading travel companies to adapt to this growing market.
“I think from when we started, more people came back and had such a great time that the word spread of how much fun it is to go to other organizations and how they were treated so warmly,” Cummings says.
She also says the program is a great opportunity for residents to develop relationships and camaraderie. Cummings reports that Cedar Community residents often made friends at new communities and plan return trips just to stay in touch.
Mahree Morin, move-in coordinator at Beatitudes Campus, says the Phoenix community has hosted five trips so far this year, with another three scheduled for 2015.
“Residents really like it,” Morin says. “They love the weather. A lot of them have been repeats for the past couple of years. They look forward to coming back to meet up with some of the friends that they have made.”
The Millers have been so pleased with the program that they volunteered to become Passport to Travel resident ambassadors, welcoming and hosting residents who travel to Cedar Community.
The couple will journey next to Horizon House in Seattle in February 2015.
Rich Miller, who spent five years on active duty in the U.S. Navy, appreciates the opportunity to travel more extensively.
“We’ve had the opportunity to see some places we wouldn’t have considered, like Asheville,” he says. “It’s given us a new dimension.”