The Act Of Travel At Any Age
The act of travel is one of the only things we can buy that actually makes us richer. Maybe your pockets aren’t overflowing, but the qualities we gain from traveling near or far can help shape us. The act of travel can help us become open-minded, curious and well-rounded individuals – no matter the age. As we get older, we collect many life lessons and experiences that are uniquely ours. Despite the lives we live, the world still waits for us. You’ve had dreams of going to a particular part of the world or tapping into your adventurous spirit. Sometimes the thought of aging holds us back or instills fear in us for the future.
I’m here to tell you that despite your doubts and fears, travel is something you can incorporate into your life – and at any age, the act of travel will benefit you in more ways than one.
Here is our best guidance for traveling and overcoming your fears of aging:
Traveling regularly cultivates a healthy lifestyle and promotes longevity to our health
From walking through the airport to wandering the streets of your destination, travel keeps you moving and active in a fun way. Many tourism research journals and articles will show that travel lowers stress levels for adults and can promote open mindedness and stability in our lives as we get older. The act of travel has a positive and healthy impact on our physical and mental selves, especially if we go on a holiday during our leisure time. The act of travel at any age has been associated with incredible physical health benefits, such as lowering the risk of cardiovascular heart disease. The experience of traveling makes us happier, healthier and more confident in being independent. Research shows it is undisputed that traveling can positively impact our overall lifestyle. So if you’ve been traveling and you enjoy it – keep doing it no matter your age! You want to maintain a healthy lifestyle as you age and travel can help.
Anxiety can present itself when there is pressure to keep up or being surrounded by people younger than you. Always remember – if it’s you’re vacation, you’re on your own schedule. The older we get, the easier it is to stray from the crowd and do things on your own terms.
Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
Planning is everything. Planning will become even more important the older we get for a few reasons. For one, there are certain opportunities that have age cut offs – one example being work holiday visas, which are a secure way of traveling and living abroad, however have age cut-offs depending on the country. If you know working and living abroad is a goal for you, it will require planning and research.
On a different note, our bodies change as we age. You don’t walk as fast as we used to, or maybe you’re living with a disability that intensifies with age. One way to plan ahead is to take more of your active vacations now and then plan for more leisurely experiences later in life. On the other hand, maybe you’re someone who believes age or physical ability shouldn’t dictate the types of experiences you give to yourself.
Which brings us to our next point: do your research when it comes to accommodations and accessibility. Some destinations have better healthcare or tourism infrastructures than others. A best practice for ensuring you are accommodated during your vacation is to call ahead. Call ahead to see if your room is accessible, to see if transportation from the airport to your accommodations can be arranged, and more. You will never know if you never ask!
Think about the types of activities you already personally prefer. Are those types of activities accessible in your destination? If not, it’s always best to plan for alternative activities that give you just as much insight to the people, culture and environment of your destination. Even further, it may be worth it to reconsider your destination. You know your personal preferences, and only you know what you’re comfortable with – maintain your health and well-being while you’re away by planning and researching in advance.
Here are a few resources to help you start planning for the act of travel at any age:
AARP Vacation Planner – great vacation and travel planning tool for those 50+
EF Ultimate Break – fully fleshed out experiences for those aged 18-25
On the Go Tours – offers vacation packages to those 50+
Hostelworld – read reviews for hostels all over the world before booking
Go Together or Travel Solo (In a Smart Way)
Traveling alone can be intimidating at any age, especially as someone who identifies as a woman. Concern for your safety and well-being are valid, and one solution to mitigating risks related to traveling alone would be traveling with friends or travel groups! Many tourism organizations, from cruise lines to eco-tourism companies, have created age specific travel groups where strangers from all over the world can travel in a group and grow their network. If you’re not comfortable venturing out into a group of people you don’t know, you always have friends. Grab your favorite travel buddies and venture out! Traveling in groups can help you build up the confidence for future solo travel.
These are my top pieces of advice for those planning the act of travel, especially solo travelers:
- Try being a budget traveler – hostels are safer than you think and accessible for any age. You can book solo rooms and hanging out in the public spaces is a great way to meet people. Hostels are also a cost-effective option if you’re not trying to break the bank but still trying to see the world.
- Take advantage of group tours! Whether it be a free walking tour, a wine tasting, or any other group excursion, this is another great way to expand your network.
- Make copies of your important documents (Passport, credit cards, license, etc.) – email them to a close friend or family member you trust in case you happen to lose those items. Doing this will also give you a sense of security while traveling solo.
- If you’re going international, buy travel insurance – you may not think you need it…until you need it. I recommend Geo Blue for a reasonable cost with decent coverage when it comes to medical coverage. Many airlines, hotels and more tourism organizations offer travel insurance to cover things like cancelled flights, lost items, etc.
- Book a non-stop flight or a flight with minimal connections or layovers. From a health perspective, this minimizes interaction with multiple airports and airlines and the possibility for spreading germs. From a time perspective, booking a direct flight eliminates the risk of missing a connecting flight. You won’t have to rush through the airport to your connecting gate.
Suggestions for your personal items:
- Pack all medication in your carry-on bag – when you pack away your prescription medications, you risk them being lost along with the rest of your checked luggage. Put all of your medications in a clear plastic bag in their original packaging. It also never hurts to include a piece of paper that indicates the names of your medications and when you’re supposed to take them. This is helpful if a doctor’s visit is required during your time away.
- If you have a smart phone, have a family member set up location services on your phone. For iPhone users, the app Find my Friend can be helpful in keeping track of your whereabouts in the event that you aren’t responsive to phone calls, text or messages.
Our last piece of advice is that you don’t have to fly across the world for a new experience. If international travel isn’t wise due to health concerns, or if you have a need to stay close to home (kids, family to take care of, etc.), try going somewhere closer to home that you’ve never been to before. Staying close to home is also a great way to maintain your travel-oriented lifestyle between longer vacations.
Starting small and traveling closer to home will help you rate your comfortability with a new environment. For example, let’s say you travel from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. by train. You’re still in the U.S., so you know your phone works, your credit cards will be accepted everywhere, there is no language barrier, and the currency remains in USD. If you can find comfort in somewhere closer to home, there’s no doubt you are more than capable of traveling further and further away.
The act of travel doesn’t have an age cut-off. The beautiful thing about travelling throughout all stages of life is that you grow to appreciate different aspects of travel at different stages of your life. While our bodies change with age, so do our preferences, inspiration and dreams for travel. Aging is a glorious process, and if travel has been a huge part of your life then keep at it. Through planning, research and a solutions-oriented mindset, travel is possible and immensely enjoyable at any age.