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Top Benefits of Traveling for Seniors

A senior man and woman hike amidst a scenic mountain lake.

In “The Best American Travel Writing 2000,” author Bill Bryson writes, “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” If you’re like a lot of people, you share Bryson’s enthusiasm for travel. In fact, 76% of Americans surveyed love taking trips to destinations near and far, and 59% say traveling is one of their retirement dreams. That’s good news because senior travel offers a host of perks for mind, body and spirit. Here are just a few of the benefits of traveling for seniors:

Supports Better Health

A meta-analysis by the Global Coalition on Aging finds significant connection between travel and healthy aging, citing numerous studies, including research showing that men who don’t take an annual vacation have a 30% greater risk of death from heart disease.

What’s more, travel reduces stress, which is known to contribute to a number of health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. While retirement is typically idealized as a stress-free experience, stress and anxiety are nevertheless common for older adults, especially those who have recently wound down their careers or are experiencing changes in their social circle. Getting away from it all during your travels offers a chance to restore inner equilibrium as you leave those stressors behind for a while. One study found that even a short vacation has a positive effect on perceived stress, and these benefits last up to 45 days after the vacation.

Keeps You Sharp

The brain thrives when you challenge it. And travel, which exposes you to new experiences, people, languages and ideas, nourishes the brain with plenty of food for thought. In addition, as you consult maps and plan routes during your travels, you’re stimulating the hippocampus, the part of the brain that supports spatial memory and mental mapping. This is especially true if you don’t rely on GPS to do all the thinking for you.

Connects You with Others

Social connection is a vital part of health and well-being, especially for seniors, who can be particularly vulnerable to isolation due to a shrinking social circle. Isolation is linked to a variety of health issues, including an increased risk of dementia, stroke, heart disease, depression and anxiety. Travel is a way to connect with other people, whether you’re taking a trip to visit family, or befriending fellow travelers on a group tour.

Boosts Mood

According to the TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies, 80% of people surveyed agree that travel improves their general mood and outlook. Research confirms that travel makes us happier. One study found that people who have more variety in their day-to-day surroundings experience more joy, interest and alertness. Another study found that women who take two or more vacations a year were less likely to feel tense, depressed or tired, and were more satisfied with their marriages.

Fosters Personal Growth

Humans are hardwired to crave familiarity, yet we benefit when we’re bold enough to get out of our comfort zone. Travel is one way to leave habit and routine behind so you can engage in fresh adventures. Such a leap out of your comfort zone offers a variety of benefits, including a boost to self-confidence, creativity and adaptability.

The Perfect Home Base at Essex Meadows

At Essex Meadows, we make it easy for you to enjoy an active, on-the-go lifestyle and to reap the benefits of traveling for seniors. Our maintenance-free independent living community’s apartments and cottages give you the chance to experience worry-free travel, whether you’re off on far-flung excursions or enjoying a few days of culture and shopping in nearby Boston or New York. Even when you’re here at home, you’ll find plenty to explore and discover. Take classes at Wesleyan University, engage in friendly competition on our golf course, or hike woodland trails on our 104-acre campus. To find out more about the adventures that await at Essex Meadows, contact us and schedule a visit.