On the road again

Oak Crest opens up a world of travel possibilities

Created date

December 23rd, 2019
With Oak Crest’s Special Trips department, residents are able to travel on day trips to concerts, and museums, as well as extended trips to exciting locations. Here a group enjoys a day trip to Baltimore and a tour via the Inner Harbor’s Water Taxi.

With Oak Crest’s Special Trips department, residents are able to travel on day trips to concerts, and museums, as well as extended trips to exciting locations.

For Sally McNelis Bowerman, one of the many perks of living at Oak Crest, an Erickson Living-managed community located in Parkville, Md., is the ability to travel worry free with ease.

Before moving to Oak Crest in 2007, Sally and her late husband James traveled quite a bit. Now a widow, she’s been able to continue traveling with others who share her wanderlust through Oak Crest’s Special Trips department.

“After my husband passed away, I got very involved with the trips program,” says Sally. “I no longer drive, so it’s wonderful to have access to very reasonable and reliable transportation to all kinds of places. You also get the opportunity to meet new people.”

Sally serves on the Special Trips Committee at Oak Crest. A 12-member group of residents work with the Special Trips department to plan weekly day trips to destinations within a day’s drive. It’s an opportunity for residents to give their input on where they would like to go and what kinds of things they would like to see.

“There are a wide variety of trips that are offered,” says Sally. “We have been to the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Sight & Sound Theatres, the Meyerhoff, the Corradetti Glassblowing Studio & Gallery in Baltimore, Hollywood Casino in Perryville, The Walters Art Museum, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Friendly Farm in northern Baltimore County, and we also do what we call Dine Arounds, where we try out different restaurants.”

In the driver’s seat

Ania Allen, Special Trips Coordinator for Oak Crest, works with residents like Sally to plan and provide support for the trips. 

“My job is to take the residents’ ideas and suggestions, and plan and promote the trips,” says Allen. “I meet with the Special Trips Committee once a month to discuss ideas and get feedback from the trips we have taken. It’s important to me to see what was popular and what wasn’t so I can plan accordingly for the future.”

All trips are advertised within the community with flyers, as well as on the community’s in-house television station. On average, anywhere from 10 to 25 people travel with the group, with popular destinations garnering up to 50 people.

According to a recent AARP survey, travel amongst Baby Boomers has held steady over the past two years with Boomers taking an average of four to five leisure trips each year, adding up to a whopping $157 billion or $6,000 per person. 

“I traveled before I moved to Oak Crest, and I’ve been traveling with the Special Trips group since I moved here six years ago,” says Polly Carroll. “For people who are single or who don’t drive anymore, these trips are a great way for them to travel and do things like go to the theater or a ball game, things they normally may not do on their own.”

In 2019, Polly traveled to the C&D Canal in Chesapeake City, a trip arranged by a fellow neighbor. 

“There is a couple here who recently moved from Chesapeake City. They arranged the trip and explained how the canal worked, and we toured the museum. After, we had lunch at Schaefer’s Canal House. It was really a nice trip,” says Polly. Last summer, she also toured Baltimore’s Inner Harbor via Charm City’s iconic Water Taxi.

“It was a hot day; on the water, it was delightful,” says Polly. “We went down almost to the [Francis Scott] Key Bridge. Along the way, we saw all kinds of ships and tugboats, and we also saw Fort McHenry from the water, which was really neat. It was a lot of fun!”

An avid Baltimore Oriole’s fan, Polly makes sure that at least a few trips to Camden Yards are on the itinerary every year. 

“We went to five games in 2019,” says Polly. “We choose the dates, and they purchase the group tickets. Everyone enjoys it. We plan to go again this year.” 

In addition to day trips, Oak Crest also partners with Golden Travel Services, LLC for multi-day trips to destinations like Cape May and Atlantic City, N.J., Newport, R.I., and a Mississippi River Cruise.

“They offer a lot of extended travel trips and cruises,” says Sally. “A few years ago, I traveled to Clearwater, Fla., for four days. It was wonderful. One of the most popular overnight trips every year is to The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. The resort is decorated for the holidays, and it’s just beautiful.” 

Allen says aside from the opportunity to travel to new places, the best part of her job is getting to know her fellow travelers. 

“It’s a learning experience for me,” Allen says. “I enjoy seeing new places, and I learn a lot about the residents on the trips because I have a chance to sit and talk with them. I have been able to build relationships. We have some residents who go on every trip. Seeing them enjoy themselves and form friendships with other residents is really the best part.”