Knitting needles or a stroll through the Alps? Which is better for me?
The secrets to a long and healthy life are often thought to be diet and exercise. But you might also want to add travel to that list. While many people travel simply for enjoyment, or the desire to get away and do something different, along the way they also broaden their horizons, relieve day-to-day stress and improve their general outlook on life.
Travel is good for our health and contributes to a longer life expectancy and a more satisfying retirement. Here are a few ways travel can improve the life of retirees:
Travel encourages you to be more active - You hustle through the airport, possibly tote your own bags to the hotel, walk around the streets, stroll through the museums, swim in the ocean or hike along mountain paths. Many of the activities you do on vacation involve physical exercise which lowers your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Need more proof? Many scientific studies have found that men and women who vacation at least twice a year enjoy a significantly lower risk of heart disease than those who hardly ever took a break.
Travel offers social benefits - Travel can help you deepen relationships with family and friends plus offers opportunities to meet new people. Group travel with friends from home or people brought together by a common interest helps build social ties which promote good mental health. Research shows that active social participation, especially later in life, conveys positive benefits for our emotional well-being.
There are mental rewards - You can go on an educational vacation or attend a week-long class somewhere…but no matter where you travel, you will be meeting new people, navigating unfamiliar places and trying new and different things…all activities that stimulate and challenge the brain. Travelers who search out different environments are exposed to unfamiliar cultures which stretches their imaginations and forces them to consider new ways of thinking. The novelty of travel – especially when it involves navigating unfamiliar territory – is a key to boosting your brain power and can lower the risk of dementia later in life.
It improves your mood and lowers your stress levels - Studies have shown that the majority of travelers say that travel “improves their mood and outlook about life in general”. And most respondents also agree that travel relieves stress and contributes to both physical and mental well-being. While many people are aware of the benefits of taking a vacation, they don’t always appreciate that the effects of relieving stress often lingers long after they get home. Retiree travelers are notably more likely than non-retirees to feel satisfied and maintain a positive outlook.
Factor travel into your retirement budget and I promise you it will pay off both physically and mentally. If your budget is tight, challenge yourself to find ways to cut corners so you can travel. You can go on vacation during the off-season, take advantage of senior discounts, travel with a social club or alumni organization group. Don’t think of travel as another discretionary expense…consider it an investment in your health, happiness and future.