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DESTINATION AGING: The Health Benefits of Travel

Retirement is a wonderful time to finally visit all of the places you’ve been dreaming about. Your golden years can be some of the best of your life, especially if you’ve worked and waited your whole life to travel. It has been said that traveling is the only thing we can buy that actually makes us richer. In fact, studies have found that:

  • Men who take vacations are 32% less likely to die from heart disease.
  • Women who take vacations at least twice a year are less stressed and less likely to experience depression.
  • Three days of vacation can drastically lower stress levels, even after the vacation ends.
  • Travel abroad can make the traveler more open-minded and emotionally stable.
  • Travel keeps older adults moving and active, often providing more opportunities to move than staying at home.
  • Travel can increase confidence as senior travelers overcome fears and get out of their comfort zone.

Traveling also helps you stay physically and mentally active.  Planning itineraries, navigating new cities, exploring places like museums, meeting new people, practicing new languages and seeing new sights can strengthen the brain and keep you active and engaged. Staying physically active lowers rates of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancers, lowers the risk of falling, and improves cognitive function.

Dr. Gloria Schranz, who volunteered at Friendship Centers in the dental clinic for more than 10 years, has traveled extensively all over the world, and recommends traveling as much as you can while you are healthy.

“I’ve been to Antarctica, all over South America, Asia, Africa and Europe,” she said. “I don’t have a favorite. I find that every place is interesting.”

While it’s fun to travel to luxury resorts and see fantastic sights, traveling can also be a reminder of how some of the rest of the world lives.

“There is so much poverty, so much need,” said Dr. Schranz. “I have seen so many people without running water, electricity, a stable place to live…it makes you realize how lucky you are. Every country has poverty, even here. I saw that when I was working in the clinics.”

Dr. Schranz recommends cruising for older adults, but also recommends seeing as much as you can of different worlds, different areas and different people.

“Cruising is ideal when you’re older because normally you have one day in one port, another day in another port, etc. It’s very simple. You can stay on the boat if you want to or make it an adventure. It’s more of a superficial visit, but it’s still a good way to travel. I’ve taken at least one cruise every year since 1993.”

Over two-thirds of Americans wish that they traveled more, and there’s no time like the present!  If you need help planning a trip, you can contact Dawnmaria with AAA Automobile Club of America.  She will present “Travels Around the World” from 1-3 p.m. at the Friendship Centers in Venice and would be happy to answer any questions you have about planning a fun and safe trip.

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