It’s summer, time for vacations!
Not only is it fun, but traveling gives us different perspectives on things. It takes us from our comfortable routines and forces us to adjust, hurry, wait, be patient, eat strange foods and constantly adapt to other people’s homes, schedules and surroundings. It feels more difficult as we age, but I know it’s good for us.
I just returned from three weeks in Maine and feel myself so easily slipping back into my habits and patterns. I always love coming home to Durango, and this is no exception. However, it is taking me longer to transition from the humidity and rain back East to this hot and dry climate. Is this because of aging? And, all that water there – the Atlantic, the ponds and lakes, the rivers, and did I say the rain?
Logistics were extremely complicated, and there were cars and buses and airplanes to figure out. There were several different people to see, so many smaller journeys and locations and different beds. Some people eat dinner at 8:30, way too late for me, but I rallied. Going to bed later, getting up earlier, different teas, children I had never met, driving through strange cities, all really challenged my normal routines. A bee sting and even a tick, and there I was without my home remedies.
There are so many old and deep friendships there, and the joy of being with these people overcame all the discomforts. It was bittersweet to say goodbye though, as I’ll never know where or when I’ll have the good fortune to see these friends again. It’s different now, we don’t know how much time we have left.
There were adventures and so much beauty along the Maine coast, and of course, the eating was incredible. But traveling is harder now. I experienced anxiety in all the transportation details, more exhaustion in having to be “on” all the time with people I visited, and less flexibility, both physically and mentally compared with my younger years. Including a couple of quiet, “down” days to myself in between people and places would have been helpful. A night in a motel to catch my breath.
Many studies show positive gains from traveling. Heart attacks and coronary disease are less in people who travel as they age. Or perhaps it’s the reverse: Healthier people are able to travel. The brain goes through many gives and takes in both long and short excursions. It is a real experience in change. I watched my resistance along with the excitement, the strained moments with the more relaxed times, and then the opening to whatever was happening.
I feel grateful I am still able to make these trips, had the support I needed and friends to visit, and the energy to communicate and make all the plans. I remember when my mother and aunt just couldn’t do it anymore, a real loss for them. Life is good for now, and hopes are that we can all get out there and see the world and old friends this summer. Bon voyage ...
Martha McClellan has been a developmental educator in early childhood for 38 years. She has moved her focus now to the other end of life, and has written the book, The Aging Athlete: What We Do to Stay in the Game. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.