Story and Photos by Susanna Starr
We commonly hear that 70 is the new 50. But unlike then, at this point in our lives, we often find ourselves with more opportunities to travel. Whether it’s within the continental U.S. or abroad, travel offers the contemporary senior an abundance of options. It is especially appealing to those of us who not only find a lessening of demands upon our time, but still have the energy to do many things that have previously been assigned to the back burner, including travel.
In my case, to facilitate my love of travel, I became a travel writer. I was already a published author and writing has been my easiest form of expression. In addition to tasting new cuisines, staying at interesting places and visiting new landscapes, travel writing allowed me to write about the people I met and their different customs. And, although I didn’t always speak the language of the countries I visited, I soon found that with an open heart and mind, there were no barriers. Rather than feeling intimidated about the lack of my language skills, I always found that people were happy whenever there was any attempt on my part to say a few words or phrases in their language. Eye contact was also meaningful, something lacking with internet connections.
Automobile travel within one’s country not only opens up new vistas and the chance to explore regions never visited before, but often provides the leisure to discover new places and to meet new people. From motor homes to travel trailers to small cars, being “on the road again” can be an exhilarating experience. It can involve days, weeks or months. It can be a time of exploration, often stumbling across places that whet our appetites for another, perhaps more extended, visit sometime in the future.
For those who like the idea of seeing the country (or countries, when traveling abroad) without the physical energy expended on driving an automobile, train travel is a nice option. It’s also a nice way of getting from here to there without having to deal with airports or navigate unfamiliar roads, while affording us the opportunity of seeing more of the variety of landscapes. And, there’s still something romantic about trains, whether it’s in our own country or other lands.
Everyone knows about cruises, but do we know what a broad spectrum of experiences they have to offer? Just researching them stimulates the imagination! There are river trips and ocean voyages, inland waterways and and lakes. Some of the venues are large, others are small and intimate. Some involve stopping off at various ports in different countries while others concentrate on a more specific venue. Some are oriented toward wine and food while others focus on archeology. You can take a luxury cruise or one that will be more economical and you get to choose the focus you find most appealing.
Obviously flying is the fastest way to get to visit other places, especially when it’s travel abroad. You can travel to one specific destination, rent an apartment or house for an extended length of time, and then take trips from your new base. While some people like to visit different places, others of us prefer landing in a specific geographic location and exploring the culture more in depth, getting to know the local bakery or grocery store. It’s nice to become a temporary part of another community, supporting local art happenings, sports or other local events.
Whatever it is that seniors think they might like to explore, travel is there waiting. Adventure can still be had and the delight of making new friends provides us with a cultural richness that enhances these travel experiences. Some of us still maintain a well-spring of energy and will opt for more challenging outdoor adventure while many of us will choose travel that is more comfortable and less physically challenging. Whatever you, as a senior interested in travel, decide to choose, it’s bound to be an enriching experience. And, in this era of instant information, much of the fun is exploring options before making the decision of where to go. Lastly, being a senior is more than just getting older, it’s a time when we find people more willing to be helpful in making situations as smooth and comfortable as possible.
It is been scientifically proven that travel is beneficial for health and well-being. As the author of Fifty and Beyond; New Beginnings in Health and Well-Being, I know that to be true for me.