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Caution puts a new twist on travel, but you can still be adventurous

by Emily Koelsch | Contributor
September 23, 2020

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In the pandemic era, millions of Americans have seen travel plans canceled or disrupted. This is especially true for older Americans, who generally travel more and disproportionately benefit from travel but have had to take extra precautions due to COVID-19. While tourist hotspots and busy travel have been avoided, there are still safe ways for retirement-age people to have adventures, and part of the pandemic-era normal means finding new and safe ways to travel and enjoy adventures.

Is travel really beneficial?

Travel is beneficial for everyone, but it’s particularly beneficial for older Americans who often become isolated and inactive. Research shows that travel keeps seniors more active and provides more opportunities to move than when at home. Travel leads to increased confidence, social benefits and increased social connections, and it’s correlated with a number of health benefits including a reduced risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of stroke and other diseases.

Interestingly, experts also believe that travel is tied to brain health. Dr. Paul Nussbaum, founder of the Brain Health Center, celebrates travel. “Because it challenges the brain with new and different experiences and environments, travel is an important behavior that promotes brain health and builds brain resilience across the lifespan.”

Additionally, many retirees travel more than the average American, and it’s something that many people look forward to and have long planned for. Given the many mental and physical benefits that come from visiting new places, it’s worth it for older Americans to explore options for safe travel and adventuring during the pandemic and beyond.

Is it possible to safely travel right now?

While it’s necessary for travel to look different as a result of the pandemic, experts advise that with the right planning and precautions, it is possible to safely travel. That said, it’s important for each person to evaluate their own situation and unique risk factors when deciding whether to travel and to appreciate that even with the right precautions, there are some risks.

Dr. Lawrence Livornese, an infectious disease expert in Philadelphia, provides some practical tips on safe travel. He advises that one key to safe travel is extensive planning. Before traveling, you should obviously consider how you’ll travel and where you’ll stay, but it’s also important to consider smaller details like where you’ll stop, plans for food and plans for visiting any family members or friends.

As part of the planning process, Dr. Livornese reminds travelers to pack some key items, including plenty of masks, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. Additionally, travelers should adhere to all CDC guidelines, check travel restrictions and even evaluate recent COVID-19 case numbers in areas where they’ll be traveling. Here are some other tips for safe travel:

Masked couple taking a pandemic vacation
  • When possible, pack your own food
  • If you have to purchase food, take advantage of drive throughs and curbside pickup
  • Pay with a credit card to reduce the number of contacts that you have
  • After stopping, sanitize your hands before getting back in the car
  • Stay informed – things change rapidly, so it’s helpful to stay updated on local and state regulations, any relevant restrictions, or new virus hotspots

What type of vacation should seniors consider?

While it’s clear that some types of travel aren’t a good idea during the pandemic – cruises will have to wait for a while longer – there are plenty of types of travel that seniors can enjoy, feel safe doing and benefit from. With the right planning and safety precautions, seniors can enjoy what’s recently been referred to as a “safecation,” a term that Travelocity defines as “a mini getaway to destinations that are cleared for safe travel.” Here are some of the most popular and safest adventures to consider.

Outdoor adventures and road trips

Getting outdoors and enjoying nature is a safe way to stay active and to see new things. In the last few months, national parks and campgrounds have seen increased numbers of visitors as more and more people are comfortable with this type of travel.

And, adding to that rise is the increased popularity of road trips. Whether in a car or recreational vehicle, road trips are a great way to travel right now. RVs can be a particularly good option for older adults as they limit the contacts that travelers have and make it easy to travel safely. As an added benefit, road trips give you a chance to see parts of the country that you might otherwise miss and to explore off-the-beaten path destinations. Roadtrippers offers a great resource to help you plan your trip, including routes, points of interest, and recommended RV campgrounds.

National parks offer lots of space for enjoying the outdoors and staying safe, and many state parks offer the same. So even if you’re not up for a big cross-country adventure, look for a park near you as an opportunity to get out of the house, stay active, and see something new.

Outings close to home

Recent research found that from April to June of 2020, the most popular choice for travel was driving and staying within 100 miles of home. This type of travel limits potential exposures and makes it easier to have a safe trip while still letting you enjoy many of the benefits of travel.

Consider taking some time to research travel destinations nearby. There might be something close to home that you have never explored before and that will offer a safe day trip or weekend getaway.

If you’re considering staying overnight in a hotel, take advantage of some of the resources that provide information on the safety precautions that specific hotels have implemented, for example no-contact check in, cleaning procedures, and social distancing requirements. Not surprisingly, there has been a rise in occupancy at motels in recent months, as these give travelers a chance to avoid lobbies, elevator and indoor public places. These can be a great option for short getaways!

Virtual travel

Finally, for some seniors, now might not be the right time for an adventure. But even if you need to stay home, you can still enjoy some aspects of traveling through “armchair” or virtual travel. From museum tours to national parks to the wonders of the world, there are opportunities to have any type of virtual adventure that you can think of. Take advantage of some of the many resources to enjoy an armchair adventure until you’re able to visit in person.

While travel will look a little different right now, there are still opportunities for older Americans to have safe and enjoyable adventures. With the right planning and preparation, you can enjoy a safe outing that helps your body and mind to stay active and healthy. Whether it’s a day trip to a nearby state park or a cross-country road trip, get creative to find ways to continue doing some of the things you love.

Alliance America can help

Alliance America is an insurance and financial services company. Our financial professionals can assist you in maximizing your retirement resources and achieving your future goals. We have access to an array of products and services, all focused on helping you enjoy the retirement lifestyle you want and deserve. You can request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation by calling (833) 219-6884 today.

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