5 Reasons You Should Travel in Older Age
If you’re like many of your peers, travel ranks near the top of your to-do list. “Most Boomers will take at least one leisure trip this year,” says Ray Costello, program manager for Holiday Retirement communities. In fact, statistics show 94% of them will. If you’re part of the 6% dragging their feet on taking that long-awaited vacation, or you just need a little more motivation to pull the trigger on travel, here’s five important reasons to hop to it.
#1 Keeps You Young
As early as day one or two into a vacation, 89% of people are able to leave stressors behind and relax according to a survey by the Global Coalition on Aging. Researchers claim this effect can have long-term benefits because stress can damage your health and speed up the aging process.
The same survey found that older adults who travel feel more positive about their well-being than those who don’t vacation. “Travel can be a game changer in terms of how people approach the aging process and determine their paths to healthy aging, both across the life course as well as in later years and into retirement,” write the researchers.
As people age, it’s often easier to detach from life’s stressors without the pressures of careers, family, and household responsibilities that weigh down younger adults. “I believe that the key to successful aging is through travel,” says Costello. “As we age the physical pace at which we travel may be different then when we were younger, but one might argue that a slightly slower pace allows seniors to enjoy their travel experiences more.”
It’s time to pack your bags, and go find the Fountain of Youth in that excursion you’ve been putting off.
#2 Makes You Smarter
Travel alone won’t turn you into Einstein, but it can boost your brain power. A study by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that older adults who travel show 75% higher rates of mental stimulation. There’s also mounting evidence that social and leisure activities like travel may lower your risk of cognitive issues like dementia.
Dr. Paul Nussbaum, Ph.D., founder of the Brain Health Center explains how travel translates into better cognitive ability. He asserts that travel is a behavior that challenges the brain with new and different environments and experiences. These types of behaviors are shown to promote brain resilience and health throughout life.
Put down your crossword puzzle, and start planning that warm-weather getaway for a more exciting way to exercise the brain.
#3 Helps You Live Longer
Travel can keep your heart healthy. A healthier heart means a longer life. One study followed men for nine years and found that those who didn’t take a vacation at least once a year were 30% more likely to die from heart disease than their vacationing counterparts.
Another study discovered that women who took vacations every six years or less were at a much greater risk of dying from a heart attack or other coronary event than those who vacationed twice or more a year.
Now, this doesn’t mean you get to trade in regular exercise and good nutrition for cruises and beaches (nice try), but it does mean you should put some upcoming travel on your agenda.
#4 Boosts Your Mood
Vacations can play an important role in good mental health. Research by Ipsos for Allianz Global Assistance found that over 30% of people who desired to take a vacation, but didn’t follow through with it showed signs of mild to moderate depression. Twelve percent exhibited signs of moderately severe to severe depression.
The American Psychological Association reports that vacations can improve mood, reduce levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol, and decrease depression symptoms. This is good news for older populations, which are often at risk for depression.
Costello sees the power of experiences like strong friendships, travel, and other healthy activities in older age in his work everyday. “Strong social connections keep us young, and our lifestyle has a big influence on our happiness levels,” he says. “This combination makes travel for the over-60 crowd a perfect time to create meaningful memories.”
Say bye-bye to the blues, and book that trip you’ve been daydreaming about.
#5 Puts You in “The In Crowd”
The peer pressure around senior travel is getting pretty fierce. Eighty-eight percent of seniors are already in the planning phase of travel, which is an increase from last year’s 72%, according to an AARP survey. Baby Boomers are expected to take four to five vacations in 2019. Over half will travel domestically, but 43% plan to travel both domestically and internationally.
Older age isn’t holding people back from taking their dream trips. “Research by AARP tells us that seniors are confident when making travel arrangements,” says Costello. “Almost half report that they don’t find anything particularly difficult about booking travel.”
Furthermore, seniors are hot on the latest travel trends. They’re already showing up millennials in the vacation-rentals-by-owner craze. Costello points to the fact that the over-60 crowd is the fastest growing Airbnb demographic.
Looks like it’s time to cave into the good kind of peer pressure, and plan some travel. Come on. Everyone’s doing it!