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Talking TRAVEL

Negaunee Senior Center director outlines upcoming trip

The Negaunee Senior Citizens Center travels all over the United States and overseas a few times each year. The group ventured to San Antonio in May 2019 and plan to tour Vermont in June and Nashville in early September. The center conducts its domestic trips sometimes ranging from 45 to 100 people through tour company Diamond Tours where it books the hotels, plans out each day's itinerary. (Photo courtesy of Negaunee Senior Citizens Center)

By JACKIE JAHFETSON Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — Traveling, whether it be domestic or international, has its amount of challenges between planning each day’s itinerary, budgeting for expenses and venturing in unfamiliar territory.

But the Marquette and Negaunee senior centers are partnering up to make traveling a much easier hurdle to overcome for senior citizens.

Negaunee Senior Center Director Kristy Basolo-Malmsten gave a presentation Tuesday at the Marquette Senior Center, giving attendees a chance to learn about NSC’s traveling experiences and what they can expect if they plan to sign up for the upcoming trip from Oct. 27 to Nov. 7 to Sicily and Southern Italy.

The trip, at a cost of roughly $4,199, includes transportation to and from the airport, the flight, transportation at the destination, 16 meals, guided tours and lodging at finer hotels. The estimated round-trip cost varies depending if seniors would rather bunk with a roommate to share the cost or pay extra for the whole hotel room, organizers said.

Negaunee Senior Citizens Center Director Kristy Basolo-Malmsten discusses the two travel companies the center works with for domestic and international trips Tuesday to a full room of attendees at the Marquette Senior Center. The two centers look to partner up for upcoming trips including the Sicily and Southern Italy trip from Oct. 27 through Nov. 7. (Journal photo by Jackie Jahfetson)

The presentation came about after Marquette Senior Services Manager Maureen McFadden and Basolo-Malmsten discussed travel programs and realized there was an opportunity to partner up and spread the information to more area residents, Basolo-Malmsten said.

Since 2011, the NSC has conducted over 35 trips, with one already set to take flight in April to Iceland.

“I think it’s so important for seniors to stay active. If we can do a little bit of the planning and keep them engaged in travel and learning new things, everybody’s lives are richer in that. I really do believe that,” Basolo-Malmsten said. “We see that our seniors that are most active — both physically and challenging themselves with new experiences — are the ones who live richer lives longer. It’s important for us if we can make that easier by having a tour company and already have everything planned, and they just got to show up and hang out with their friends and get to see where we’re going.”

The NSC uses tour company Diamond Tours for domestic trips and Collette Vacations for international trips. On average, international trips total to around 25 people and domestic range from 45 to 100 depending on the destination, Basolo-Malmsten said, adding that one year the NSC traveled with 100 seniors to Boston.

Travel adventures through the senior center also make it easier for when people actually seek out for help because they are already familiar with the center and feel more comfortable reaching out to the staff, Basolo-Malmsten added.

Senior citizens of the Negaunee Senior Citizens Center examine and reflect in memoriam of those listed on the Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C. in May 2018. The center travels domestically with two bus tours annually, and typically one international trip.

“It’s also a tool for us… We call it the gateway program because it allows for seniors that are young, just turning in their early 60s, people who just retired, they’re interested in traveling,” she said.

One of the most challenging aspects of planning these trips as a director is accommodating each person’s needs and making sure it’s the right fit for everyone, Basolo-Malmsten explained, noting some trips required the organization to add on another bus to allow for more people to come onboard.

Being “people pleasers” is something the center takes to heart, she said.

“It really has a lot to do with people’s attitudes when they’re traveling,” Basolo-Malmsten noted. “We have a lot of people that have extreme mobility issues, walk with a walker or cane and they’re still able to enjoy these trips because their expectations are: ‘OK, I might not be able to go as far as everybody else but I’m going to have fun with my friends.'”

Basolo-Malmsten will give another free presentation on senior traveling at 1 p.m. on Wednesday at the Forsyth Township Senior Center in Gwinn.

For more information, contact the NSC at 906-475-6266 or the Marquette Senior Center at 906-228-0456.

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is jjahfetson@miningjournal.net.