Travel Comfortably Past Age 50
When you’re young, you don’t mind uncomfortable road trips and cheap hotels, but one of the rewards of aging is the economic freedom to travel with a little more pizazz. Traveling can be bittersweet as we get older because while we finally have the time to enjoy the places we’ve always dreamed about, our bodies can’t take the strain of long days like we used to. Whether you’re in for an hours-long train ride through Italy or hiking in Yosemite, we have some tips to prevent your vacations from being a pain in the neck.
1. Set Yourself Up For Comfort
If you’re sitting in economy, it’s pretty obvious that travel companies don’t design your seat to be plush and roomy. Thankfully, there are modifications you can bring with you to make your travel time more enjoyable.
- Seat Adjustments: Airplanes, trains, and cars have limited room in most of their seats, but there are small things you can bring with you that make a big impact. A lumbar pillow, a rolled-up jacket, or blanket can be secured between your seat and your lower back to help maintain your posture and provide additional support. If you enjoy snoozing while traveling, but hate the neck pain that can accompany it, neck pillows can help prevent you from bending your head too far.
- Apply Heat or Ice: Use heat or ice to help decrease muscle and joint tension. Disposable handwarmers that heat up when shaken are perfect for use during travel. Use them during your flight or car ride and throw them away when you’re done. There are also disposable heat wraps that adhere to your neck or back that last for hours. If you start experiencing pain during travel, bring a plastic bag that you can easily fill with ice from a soda fountain or ice caddy for a temporary fix.
2. Get Up and Move
Keeping your muscles and joints moving during long flights is essential to preventing tension in the lower back and hips. Always select an aisle seat so that you’re able to easily get up and walk about the cabin at least once an hour. The Washington Post shows how engaging your glutes and enjoying in-seat yoga can help keep your blood flowing while seated.
3. Support Your Joints
Despite the suggested exercises, your body is still sitting in the same position for a number of hours; it’s understandable that you will probably feel some amount of rigidity afterward. Arthro-7 and Arthro8 are formulated with collagen, MSM, vitamin C, CMO, bromelain, lipase, and turmeric to help support normal lubrication and inflammation responses. Arthro8 includes hyaluronic acid for additional joint health support.
For those who enjoy an active lifestyle, Arthro-7 Sport is specifically designed to support those who want to participate in adventurous activities like hiking, kayaking, water sports and more.
4. Bring Healthy Snacks
Although some airlines are getting better, most only offer processed snacks that lack nutritious or fresh ingredients. When your stomach is growling, suddenly those crackers and cookies look pretty appetizing! Support your body by bringing homemade trail mix or easy-to-eat fruits and vegetables like baby carrots and apples.
If you’re on a road trip, you can pack a cooler with protein and nutrient-rich foods:
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Veggie wrap
- Fresh fruit
- Single-serving packets of nuts
- Low-fat string cheese
- Single-serving hummus or guacamole and veggies
5. Drink Water
People who are hydrated typically have to use the restroom on flights. While this can seem like an inconvenience, it’s a great reason to get up and move. As we age, we naturally have less water in our bodies, plus our medications may increase the chances of becoming dehydrated. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to ensure you stay hydrated.
“Stay away from caffeine or alcohol, because they’re dehydrating. Drink something, preferably water, every few hours, even if you don’t feel thirsty,” said Dr. Claire Larson, a geriatrician with the UNC Center for Aging and Health.
6. Pack a Change of Clothes in Your Carry-On
Unfortunately, lost luggage is still an everyday occurrence. To prevent being high and dry without any clean clothes, always pack a change of clothes in your carry-on. This is also a great idea for those who have issues with incontinence. Packing a spare outfit gives a peace of mind that you’re prepared for anything that may happen during your travel day.
7. Choose Non-Stop Flights
Getting on and off a plane is exhausting enough the first time. Couple that with a layover and your energy is officially spent. Booking direct flights eliminates unnecessary waiting in airports and the chance you might miss a connection. Plus, direct flights streamline your trip. If you’re unable to avoid connecting flights, consider taking a 24-hour layover on long haul flights to give you time to get proper rest in a hotel before continuing on to your destination–you may even get to explore another place!
8. Prevent Jet Lag
A certain amount of jet lag is to be expected, but there are ways to make the transition easier. Depending on when you land, try to stay awake during as much daylight as you can. If you need a nap, make it quick. Stay hydrated and keep moving as much as possible. If you do that for a day or two, you should acclimate to your new place in time to fully enjoy the rest of the trip.
If you’re retired or looking towards it, MoneyWise suggests these 5 trips, plus 10 more:
- National Parks: Seniors can purchase a lifetime pass that covers entrance fees to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites, including national parks, wildlife refuges, grasslands and more.
- Cruise: The ideal way to island hop comfortably.
- Safari: In Cape Town, South Africa, you can see the "Big Five,” lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo, all in one day.
- Festivals: There are hundreds of festivals for every passion that happen year-round.
- Set Sail: Learn to sail or book a boat with a seasoned captain.
- Miller, Ron. “How to Protect the Back While Traveling.” Spine-Health. 2019.
- Cleveland Clinic. “The Best Travel Snacks for Eating on the Road.” 2021.
- UNC Health Talk. “See the World and Stay Healthy: 11 Things for Older Adults to Keep in Mind for Travel.” 2019.
- Heasman, Chris. “33 Tips for Making a Long-haul Flight More Comfortable.” Travel and Leisure. 2021.