This is an Aviva sponsored article about over-50s travel, a theme close to my heart.
Have you heard of the grey gap year? It’s an expression I recently came across which refers to people my age (over 50) and older taking a year off work to travel, or who are enjoying their retirement by travelling. Never have so many ‘silver’ travellers been as adventurous as they are now. Recent research by 101 Holidays showed that the average age of the solo traveller from the UK is 57 and nearly 63% of them are women. From travelling solo for the first time to climbing Kilimanjaro, we are out there rocking the world. Care to join us?
As we get older we tend to be more confident and that’s certainly true for me, however, with age comes other concerns; keeping the weight off gets harder, our knees, backs and other body parts get a bit dodgy and more serious health issues become more likely. But should that stop us travelling? Not on your nelly!
Above: Snowshoeing in Canada with my husband, Neill.
Below: A boat ride in the beautiful lagoon that surrounds the island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean.
Featured Image: Kat ziplining in South Carolina, USA.
Recommended for you: How to fund your travels: Money saving tips for the 50+ traveller by Heather on her Travels
Here are my top ten tips for looking after your health before you go and while you are away.
Health tips for 50 plus travel – before you go
1. Check what immunisations you might need, on the NHS’ Fit for Travel site (or equivalent if you aren’t based in the UK). If you have any concerns talk to your doctor. Always make sure you carry any medication in your hand luggage, in case your hold luggage gets delayed, and in the original packaging, in case you need to get more or if customs want to check them out. If you are on medication and will be travelling between time zones you may want to think in advance about when you should be taking your medication.
2. Download Google Translate or a similar app onto your phone. It will prove invaluable if you fall ill and you don’t speak the local language.
3. Consider a medical alert bracelet. If you have a serious medical condition or allergy a medical alert bracelet could literally be a life-saver if, for example, you fall unconscious. There’s a fabulous range of designs now available.
Health tips for 50 plus travel – while away
4. Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water while you are away, especially in hot countries, and on any flights. Long flights, in particular, are very dehydrating.
5. Get plenty of sleep. Take an eye mask to block out intrusive light, earplugs to muffle noisy environments and, if flying, a neck pillow to help you sleep on flights.
6. Guard against deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). Sitting still on a plane, train or coach can contribute to DVT and as you get older you are more at risk. In the last year, I have had two friends in their fifties affected by this. Luckily, they were both treated in time and survived, but it is a dangerous condition. Wear compression socks and try not to sit still for too long.. There are exercises that can also help. You can find out more about preventing DVT on the NHS’ website.
7. Pace yourself. Don’t try and see everything in one day. Firstly, you’ll have time to appreciate and soak everything in and secondly, you won’t exhaust yourself.
8. Drink alcohol in moderation. Not only is alcohol dehydrating, it also disrupts sleep, so it is best to keep the number of alcoholic drinks you consume to a minimum. You don’t need to avoid them completely but do drink sensibly.
9. Avoid too many carbohydrates and red meat. When I eat out I find it hard to resist ordering a burger or steak and chips if it’s on the menu, but I find eating too many carbs, such as pasta or potato, or too much meat, makes me sluggish and lethargic. So I often look out for vegetarian or vegan restaurants as their menus tend to be healthier. I also like to buy fruits, vegetables and salads from a supermarket for picnics or snacks. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have a kitchen, although having a plastic plate and cutlery is handy. It not only saves money, but it helps me to eat healthier meals in between dining out. Eating vegetarian is better for the planet too!
10. Protect your skin and eyes from harmful UV light but don’t forget your skin needs some sunlight to produce vitamin D. Make sure your sunglasses offer protection against both UVA and UVB light and wear sun cream with a high protection factor. Don’t forget that this is also necessary when skiing or hiking in the snow, as the snow’s reflective properties make the UV rays even more powerful. However, you should also be aware that there is an increase in recent years in the numbers of people suffering from vitamin D deficiency. This may be due to their skin not get enough exposure to the sun as they are always wearing sun cream.
Today here in the UK, there is a growing number of people who are older, healthier and wealthier, taking a grey gap year and are looking for more interesting experiences and more active holidays, often in more exotic locations. If you are not already, aim to be one of them! That’s my retirement plan.
As we all know, retirement doesn’t look how it used to. For those of you itching to take that long trip – trekking in Machu Picchu, exploring India’s Golden Triangle and island hopping in Greece – this can be your reality, too. Aviva is here to help you seize your retirement – making trip planning simple and putting you in control of your adventure.
Recommended for you: Top 10 really useful Solo Travel Tips for the over-50s by The Quirky Traveller
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Hi Kathryn . That’s sound fun and great trip. Your sharing would be very helpful for my mom who is 62. Usually, we enjoy eating such an traditional food or strange food where we visit. Seniors always face the same problem with digestion as my mom. So, I buy probiotics for my mom here http://www.womensedge.org/best-probiotics/. These supplements are mostly used for treating digestive problems as they help in digestion. They also improve the immunity of the body. I think you can enjoy with eating during the trip a lot. What do you think about that? Thank you very much for great sharing, I think my mom will be enjoy the next trip a lot.
I’m a big fan of probiotics. Thanks for the reminder! I know there’s a probiotic specifically aimed at travellers which you can get at many health food shops. I’ve yet to try it but probably will for my next trip. I’m not sure how in advance of travelling you should take it (it takes a while for the probiotics to establish themselves) but I’m sure any shop selling it can advise you on that.
Some great tips – and so many of them apply whatever your age! Love that more people are discovering the joys of travel later in life, and hope I’ll be doing a second backpacking RTW trip too one day.
There are always new adventures to enjoy! 😀
I couldn’t agree more – I am that 54-year-old female solo traveller! I’ve actually seen more of the world in the last 15 years than in the previous 39 and I intend to carry on for as long as I’m fit and healthy 🙂
Likewise! That’s what I’m working on, getting fitter and staying healthy!
Some useful tips there. We are over 50, and only started traveling whenever we can, a few years ago.
No. 9 stood out for me, partly as a diabetic, but mainly after our experience in Santorini (nice Santorini shot there!). Local restaurants serving more traditional food offered far less carbs and a better quality of food. “Highly recommended” tourist restaurants tended to be more “anglicised” (my description :)), offering heaps of chips, pittas, and other bread with a lower quality and sometimes more expensive meal.
We’ve had similar experiences in Spain and France too.
It’s always best to check out where the locals go. As I get older, I’m becoming far more aware of what I eat. I can’t imagine ever giving up my favourite naughty treats completely, but I’m eating far more healthily in between.