Savvy Over 60 Travel Tips
- Wednesday, 06 June 2012
About six months ago my husband said he’d like us to take a trip around the world. He warned we should go soon while we’re still able enough physically to make such a long journey.
I said sure, I’d like to go, but I would prefer to travel to all the places on our bucket list in small, bite-size chunks. I can’t bear the thought of traveling for weeks and months on end. That’s not because I’m not fit enough, I just don’t like the packing and unpacking and the moving in and out of various hotels along the way – even though I do like the fresh towels and maid services. Besides just carting around the luggage makes me tired even before I leave town.
We decided our first chunk would be a trip from our home in California to New England to visit Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, states neither of us had visited before. And since we would be on the east coast we would travel to Boston, New York City and Washington, DC to visit relatives and friends. We figured we could travel to all those places in three weeks. That’s a short enough chunk, I thought.
Well, it turned out to be way too long. We flew into Boston from Los Angeles, drove miles and miles through New England, took train rides between Boston and New York and New York and Washington, and stayed in six different hotels before departing for home from Washington. That doesn’t count eating out for almost every meal and dealing with my strict dietary needs (I am lactose and gluten intolerant), getting the laundry and cleaning done periodically, making sure I got my daily exercise and writing dose, and taking into consideration all my husband’s chronic aches and pains. Because his back ached throughout the trip we had to curtail our time in museums and on walking excursions, thus, limiting where we went and what we saw.
Even though we still think we are able enough to continue traveling to the places on our bucket list, I realize we have to go at it very, very gently, while being constantly mindful of how traveling will affect our bodies.
Travel Lessons Learned
Here are some travel lessons Iearned from our trip to New England:
Don’t go away for too long. I think the amount of time one travels is a personal choice. However, I know we should have cut at least one week from our most recent trip.
Always ask for help with heavy luggage. Neither my husband nor I can lift heavy things anymore, and I can’t help myself from over packing. So we did not hesitate to ask for help with the luggage at airports, train stations, hotels, and even at car rental outlets. One car rental employee drove us to the airport terminal in the car we had just returned and took our luggage out of the trunk outside the check-in station. That service was well worth a big tip.
Avoid becoming disoriented in strange rooms. Because we changed hotel rooms so many times, both of us woke several times not knowing where we were. As a precaution I always leave a light on in the bathroom and look toward that light before getting out of bed.
Eat normal size meals. Believe it or not, I lost three pounds while traveling for three weeks because I ate the way I always eat at home – carefully. I never consider traveling on a vacation as an excuse to go off my normal diet. Plus, I let all the restaurants know my dietary restrictions when ordering. I was also amazed at how many places offer gluten-free choices these days.
Don’t try to do and see everything. Even though we filled up our days and evenings with little sightseeing trips and visits with friends and/or family, we made sure we had time to take a short rest every afternoon. My husband usually napped and I used the time to write. We kept our pace slow and low key, and we made careful choices about where we would go and what we would see. We realized early on that that we would never be able to see everything in New England, so we decided to visit each state capital. Traveling to the capital cities enabled us to see a lot of the area surrounding them.
Traveling isn’t for everyone. But if you’re like me and want to go to new places, I suggest that as you get up in years, stay mindful of your limitations. Also stay mindful of your partner’s limitations.That’s the only way you can really enjoy your trips. By the way, we plan to travel to Israel in the fall.
Madeline Sharples is an author, poet and self-confessed exercise junkie. She described herself as a “fat kid” who has spent her whole life staying healthy and in shape and has no intention of stopping now.
Madeline’s stories and articles have appeared online and in print. She recently published her memoir, Leaving The Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living With Her Son’s Bipolar and Surviving His Suicide (Lucky Press LLC 2011). She co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994) a book about women in non- traditional professions and co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1 (Muse Media, 2004) and 2 (2010). Her poetry accompanies the work of photographer Paul Blieden in The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy and appears in several print and online publications.