When the word travel comes up, most people have different images come up in their minds. For some, it means jet-setting off to a exotic, tropical locale. For others, a simple road trip out to see tourist stops along the highway, or maybe an all-inclusive cruise through the Gulf of Mexico.
Some of us are born to travel, never being satisfied with staying in one place for too long, and others among us are homebodies, preferring to stay in and enjoy the quiet comforts of what is familiar. If you’re in the latter camp, someone who prefers to stay in their comfort zone, you should consider branching out and introducing some form of travel into your life.
Most people consider travel to be a leisure activity, but research has shown that it actually can have potential health benefits. A 2022 study showed that travel can play a significant role in active, healthy aging, as well as contribute to your overall sense of well-being. The study discussed the value of travel in maintaining and improving your physical and mental health, pointing out that travel can provide learning opportunities that will support your intellect and preserve your cognition and lift your spirits through companionship and escape from routine. Additionally, travel gets you out of the house and demands physical activity, which will help you to maintain mobility and independence.
Travel, like most things in life, is certainly not without risks. But don’t let that be a deterrent. By taking appropriate steps beforehand and planning things out, you can maximize your rewards and reduce your chances of suffering setbacks. Chief among considerations is knowing what to do to protect your health. Many older adults live with chronic illnesses, and a change in environment may disrupt your established coping mechanisms. Consult with your care provider before you make your travel plans to assess any risks your conditions may pose, as well as strategies to deal with them.
Since travel exposes you to new locations and people, make sure your vaccinations are up to date. Additionally, many different countries have endemic diseases that are specific to the area, so make sure to ask about any vaccinations required or recommended for your destination. Also make sure your medications are well-stocked for the journey, and consider any logistics necessary for transporting special medical equipment. It will also be necessary to have a plan for what you will do should you need medical treatment away from home.
For those with limited mobility, you should consider the safety criteria you need in choosing accommodations. Ask about things like wheelchair accessibility, elevator access, and any potential hazards. Staying in an old building may seem charming, but consider that you may find things like uneven floors, poor lighting, and bathrooms that don’t meet safety standards for the needs of the elderly.
When traveling by air, even the most seasoned travelers can find themselves stressed out. Ease the burden of air travel by checking up on the TSA rules. Medical equipment and medications may have to be declared, or packed separately.