Travel is energizing, relaxing and wonderfully transformative. It is also good for your health.
A recent CNN show even claimed that travel for pleasure can add years to your life. Perhaps this is because activities associated with travel, like walking and social engagement are good for both the brain and body.
In the program, CNN interviewed a group of travellers who were travelling in Umbria, Italy while participating in a Road Scholar program.
If you’ve never heard of Road Scholar, you really should check them out. Their non-profit educational programs are well-known for offering leisure and adventure opportunities that aim to be stress free and focused on learning experiences.
Road Scholar teaches that curiosity and open mindedness are a critical part of healthy aging. And, for them, good health, especially as we get older, is a result of both physical strength and mental well-being.
Of course, there is the other side of the story too. Unless you are careful – and have the right level of support – staying healthy on the road can be tricky. If, like me, you have twisted an ankle, caught an annoying bug or had an allergic reaction, you may be skeptical about the idea that travel can facilitate healthy aging.
This is where Road Scholar comes in. They help to make your trip fun, relaxing and most importantly, safe. This way, you can get the positive benefits of traveling, while reducing any risks.
Over the last year, Road Scholar has been a sponsor of Sixty and Me. As a result, I have had several opportunities to talk with their team. I have also read many stories from their satisfied customers. Through these interactions, I have come across several tips for staying safe and healthy on any trip. I’d like to share these, along with a few of my own travel tips, here.
Before a trip, it is a good idea to get yourself in good health. Eat well and take supplements to build your immune system and get plenty of good quality sleep.
Make plans for things that might stay on your mind while you are away. This includes taking care of things like mail, bills and pets.
Don’t forget to pack any medications that you might need and don’t forget to keep the prescriptions. The last thing you want is to have your essential medicines confiscated at the border! Do you need to pack allergy pills or insect repellent? Does your doctor recommend any travel shots? Personally, I never travel without my ankle brace. Don’t ask. It’s a long story!
Before you leave, practice stretching and balance exercises to make sure you can handle uneven walking surfaces and deal with long periods on your feet.
When you arrive, start exercising on the plane or train and make movement a part of your morning ritual. If the neighborhood around the hotel is safe, take a brisk walk outside. If there is a pool, take advantage of it! Make healthy aging and passion for movement your mantra.
Whether you are taking a city tour or participating in a hiking adventure, it is important to take the right equipment and to respect your limitations. Road Scholar understands this and is always clear about the physical difficulty level of their adventures. The good news is that they have over 160 walking and hiking adventures to choose from!
With Road Scholar, meals are a social event. I remember, while attending the Prague “Art and Architecture” program, I got many opportunities to try delicious, fresh, local recipes. A healthy breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt and cereals was always available and, as in most European countries, the breakfast buffet was full of delicious protein-rich foods as well.
Depending on the program, Road Scholar organizes most dinners. Even on the “independent days,” I was always able to find salads and low-fat, whole-wheat sandwiches for lunch.
It really is all about conscious eating and not slipping into bad habits “just because you are on holiday.”
It goes without saying that, while on the road, you should drink lots of water. Remember to buy bottled where tap water is not safe.
Since you’re not driving, it’s always fun to have an extra mojito or two, but, try to limit your alcohol intake as hangovers during travel excursions are no fun!
Finally – and I’m speaking from experience here – try to drink your coffee well before your day trips are schedule to start. Coffee is a bit of a diuretic and there are not always bathroom stops in remote areas.
For many of us, sleeping in a new place is challenging. Fortunately, Road Scholar minimizes the worry. Their local guides know the area and the hotel staff make you feel like family. Therefore, you can relax, knowing that everything is planned and taken care of.
Being fully rested keeps you alert and able to really enjoy your itinerary.
Healthy aging is a stated goal for many Road Scholar programs. For example, in the United States, they offer Rejuvenation Retreats where women can learn healing techniques, Qigong and meditation.
Sedona’s Healing Arts for Women: Yoga, Qi Gong, Ayurveda and More is another option. There is also a Women’s Retreat: Escape to the Serene Columbia River Gorge and Yoga for Wellness and Daily Living. For the more active international traveler, there is a Walking & Wellness: Costa Rican Secrets of Longevity
Travel encourages independence, empowers confidence and allows us to embrace and accept our aging bodies. This is great because, at this time in our lives, we are ready to reinvent ourselves and explore our passions!
Do you love to travel? Have you ever gone on a Road Scholar adventure? Which one? Please join the conversation and don’t forget to check out Road Scholar’s brand new website!