How scared do I want to be?
Of all the questions to ask yourself when you contemplate taking a trip, the most important one is this. How far out of my comfort zone do I need to be in order to feel the satisfaction of accomplishment? That is the question to answer honestly.
Whenever I’m browsing the Internet for new and interesting travel sites, I’m riveted by the high adventure blogs. The more remote the destination, the more extreme the adventure, the more I want to go there. Then I take inventory of my aging body.
Yes, it’s a harsh reality. But do I really want to hike up the mountain to see the glacier-fed lake at the top of Mt. Robson and then down again all in the same day like I did thirty years ago?
Do I really want to spend the night with only an inch of foam between my back and the rocks? Do I really want to carry a 40-pound backpack anywhere at all ever again?
If your honest answer to any of these questions is No, been there; done that! does it mean travel adventure is all over for you? You might wonder, What’s the point of travel as a senior if it’s all going to be a water-downed version of yester-year or if it’s going to put my body in jeopardy?
I’ve got opinions about that, my friends. And I’m here to tell you that the answer to those questions is the main thrust of my entire blog.
In short, if the journey feels painful or the experience seems watered down, you’re doing it all wrong! Read on!
How much money does it take to travel in comfort?
The truth is . . . it’s a moving target. There’s something terribly leveling about the aging body.
Some of us have spent our lives giving our best to our families, trying to make a contribution to our community, working hard to save up for retirement. We might have made any myriad of other choices along the way, though. For example, we might have chosen goals that led to being the best in our field, creating wealth, or finding fame. Or maybe we had modest talents and did our best with them.
Either way, when we finally have time for travel as a senior, we all have to deal with bodies that don’t work like they used to.
The question here is how much money does it take to create enough comfort to make travel a pleasure? The more money you have, obviously the more people you can pay to do things for you. But what level of service do you need for comfort? At what point does luxury become a weight? At what point does it buy freedom?
My experience is . . . comfortable travel takes less money than ingenuity. It’s all a balance.
How healthy do I need to be to take the risks of travel?
That’s the biggest question of all, isn’t it?
We all come to a certain age and simply know our legs won’t take us very far or very fast, our lungs can’t stand the low oxygen levels at high altitude, or our heart won’t tolerate the exertion of a particular under-water experience.
Whether your health fears are founded on fact or fiction is best explored with a competent family physician who knows your background. Make an appointment. Tell her/him your plans. Get a sense of the actual risks for you and how to handle them.
After that, it’s a value judgment.
But I’d say don’t give up if it’s your dream to travel. After all, there are many, many ways to arrange travel that will accommodate various physical restrictions. Start with an easy trip to see how you manage it.
One kind of easy trip is a tour where all the arrangements are made for you. The itinerary is set and the luggage is handled without your back. All you have to do is show up and be a good sport.
Another easy trip is to stay at one destination for a length of time and take day trips out from your central spot according to your energy level on a particular day. This works as well on land as it does on water, i.e. a cruise.
You can have aches and pains at home in your recliner or you can have aches and pains in an exotic location. The curious fact remains that when I’m enjoying an adventure or admiring beauty, I’m less inclined to focus on my aches and pains.
What if the worst happens?
Well, the hard truth is that if you’re dead, it doesn’t really matter where you die. In your bed, in a crash, on a trip, in your back yard, it’s all the same. You’re still dead.
The only thing that matters is how you live.
But, but, but . . . you’re spluttering, I don’t want to die a messy death somewhere on the other side of the world! How would my loved ones get my body home?
In answer to the second question, Get some travel insurance before you leave.
In answer to the first question, Does it really matter what happens to your body if you’re not in it?