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Never too late for your first cruise


Carol Marak Aging Matters

For years, I resisted the idea of going on a cruise. I cherished my solitude and quiet surroundings, and the thought of being on a ship with so many people in such close quarters made me suspicious and even a bit anxious. However, I decided to take the plunge and booked my first cruise trip ever. (It was a Bible prophesy conference taking place on the ship that secured my reservation!)

Initially, I was apprehensive about spending 144 hours on a ship, but after a few days of walking, sitting, reading, and relaxing on the ship's outside decks, meeting like-minded people, and having heart-centered conversations, I found a new appreciation for my surroundings.

Strolling around the deck and being on the ocean gradually quieted my nervousness and gave me a profound sense of calm and peace.

This unexpected tranquility opened my eyes to the myriad benefits of travel and adventure in my later years.

What I discovered on the ship is traveling in the later years is not just about seeing new places; it's about experiencing the joy, freedom, and excitement that comes with exploring the world and the people in it.

From the benefits of travel to planning solo adventures and staying safe, let's dive into why embracing travel and adventure can be one of the most fulfilling decisions you'll ever make.

Traveling, for me, offers a multitude of benefits, especially for those of us in our later years. It’s a perfect way to break free from the routine and inject a sense of novelty and ex-

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citement into life. Here are a few compelling reasons to pack your bags and set out on your next adventure:

• Mental Stimulation and Cognitive Health: Exploring new destinations stimulates the brain, promoting cognitive health. Learning about different cultures, histories, and languages can keep your mind sharp and engaged.

• Physical Activity: Travel often involves physical activities like walking tours, hiking, or simply navigating new places. This can improve cardiovascular health, increase mobility, and enhance overall physical well-being. (And calm the emotionally jackedup anxiety!)

• Social Connections: Travel provides opportunities to meet new people and forge meaningful connections. Whether it's fellow travelers, locals, or tour guides, these interactions can enhance your social life and provide a sense of belonging.

• Stress Relief and Emotional Well-being: Stepping away from daily stresses and immersing yourself in new environments can significantly reduce stress levels and improve emotional well-being.

The joy of discovering new places can be incredibly rejuvenating.

Solo travel can be immensely rewarding, offering complete freedom and the chance to connect deeply with your surroundings and others. Here’s how to plan and enjoy:

• Research and Preparation: Start by researching your destination thoroughly. Understand the culture, language, and customs to ensure a smooth experience. Plan your itinerary, but leave room for spontaneity. The conference taking place on the ship was my invitation to take the leap.

• Choosing Accommodations: Opt for accommodations that are safe, comfortable, and centrally located.

• Packing Wisely: Pack light but smart. Include essentials like medications, travel insurance, comfortable clothing, and necessary travel documents. A well-packed bag made my journey hassle-free.

• Embrace Technology: Use travel apps for navigation, and finding your preferred activities. Technology can be your best friend, making solo travel safer and more enjoyable.

• Stay Open-minded: Embrace new experiences with an open mind. Be flexible with your plans and willing to step out of your comfort zone. The best travel stories often come from unplanned and potentially agitating adventures. : )

Staying Safe and Healthy While Traveling

Safety and health are paramount when traveling, especially on solo adventures.

Here are some tips to ensure a safe and healthy journey:

• Health Precautions: Before traveling, consult your healthcare provider about vaccinations and health precautions specific to your destination.

Carry a first-aid kit and necessary medications. For the vacation on the seas, talk with your doctor about potential sea sickness.

• Stay Hydrated and Eat Well: Keep yourself hydrated and maintain a balanced diet. Be mindful of food hygiene to avoid any health issues. Wash your hands regularly. I followed a routine of daily vitamins, probiotics, and even nasal sprays for congestion, and clean and protect.

• Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times. Avoid risky areas, especially at night, and keep your belongings secure.

• Emergency Contacts: Keep a list of emergency contacts, including local emergency services, your country's embassy, and family members. Knowing who to call in an emergency can give peace of mind.

• Travel Insurance: Invest in comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost belongings. It’s a small cost for significant peace of mind.

Traveling in your later years, whether solo or with companions, can be one of the most enriching experiences of your life—it certainly was for me!

It offers a chance to see the world through new eyes, meet fascinating and like-minded people, and create unforgettable memories. So, why wait? I won't wait too long for another adventure!

Hope you find more adventures in life!

Carol Marak is an aging advocate and editor at Seniorcare. com. She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of newspapers all over the country.

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