I know what you must be thinking, how could travelling be bad? I mean if you go to the right place, you get to experience culture, people and a different way of life that can deeply enrich you mentally. Personally, I just returned from a trip to both Portugal and Spain and I can say without a doubt, that I had a great time and would love to go back. So if I had a great time and would love to go back, then why would I be talking about travelling being bad for seniors? Well let me share a few quick examples of when travelling could be bad for seniors and how to avoid or rectify such situations.
Physical stress of the Journey – I spent a lot of time walking around Lisbon and what I noticed was the number of hills there were. I would like to believe that I am in pretty decent shape but for someone who has trouble walking, I can see how it would be very tough for them. Also, I took the train to and from the airport to my hotel in both cities and having to carry luggage up and down escalators or stairs. My solution to this issue would be either to get help or get transportation everywhere you go, but ideally, I will suggest you get in shape before you travel. If you could walk at least 5-10k steps a day and then try to add a strength training program to your routine, that will be nice as this will enable you to carry your luggage and walk up hills or stairs without much fuss.
Extended Sitting on a Plane- My flight from Barcelona to Toronto was about 7 hours, and I can tell you my body felt awfully stiff after landing. Now, if you can’t afford to sit in either business class or first class, it will be better to try and get an aisle seat that will give you the room to be able to stand up every 30 minutes to either use the washroom or just to stretch. As I have written in other articles how bad extended sitting can be, try to find as many ways to stretch so your body doesn’t stiffen up.
Uneven Walking conditions- In Lisbon in particular, it seems to be that you hardly walk on flat surfaces. Now, if you feel uncomfortable on uneven surfaces, a remedy for this would be to carry a walking stick and practice balance training. The walking stick will provide stability and the balance training will strengthen your feet/ankles while also aiding you if there ever was a misstep. Good balance exercises are either tandem walking or standing on one foot.
While seeing the world is great, doing it in a way that doesn’t put you in harm’s way is even better. With a few remedies, travelling doesn’t have to be bad for seniors, but as mentioned earlier, you have to take great care while doing so.