Linda Ballou Shares Her Best Tips for Enjoying a Successful Walking Holiday – And Why She Calls Them a “Boomer Balancing Act”
By Linda Ballou, NABBW’s Adventure Travel Associate
Mobility issues are a problem for many Boomers. I am no exception, so I have investigated ways of ensuring that I don’t take a fall that puts me out of commission. If you, like me, find you need to be in nature and feel the cooling breeze caressing your skin while you walk, take heart. Don’t let a mobility issue stop you from doing what you need to feel happy and content.
I had to acknowledge that I can’t do what I used to do in the same way. I would like to share some of the things that will help you keep moving, and in shape for a glorious Walking Holiday.
I live in a mountainous region where I have hiked for years. Over that time, I have located a few select, well-groomed favorite trails without steep inclines, which I hike regularly. I also enjoy a couple of loop trails beneath shady oak canopies where I can easily get back to my car if I get into trouble. For my safety, I always carry water, a small first aid kit and my cell phone so people can find me if I fall. I often take a petite lunch for a relaxing stop at a favorite destination.
I recommend that you plan out for yourself a few walking routes that include rest stops and places to sit down. Be realistic about your fitness level and the distances you are comfortable walking. Realize that it’s okay to take shorter, easier walks.
Remember, this is not a competition. Rather, it is an exercise in listening to your body. You want to stay ahead of the pain. Don’t push yourself so hard you find yourself in crisis mode. Take a rest, breathe deeply before pressing on. I walk alone so that I can sit down at regular intervals without slowing a hiking partner down, but I always let someone know where I am going.
I avoid walking in the hottest part of day and stick to walking on shady trails. I don’t want to get overheated or dehydrated. This can make you lightheaded and dizzy and cause you to fall. This practice will also protect you skin from the sun’s most intense rays.
Carry a walking stick. You might even invest in trekking poles, but that is too much for me. I like to keep my hands free for birding, or photography. These are both activities that require you to slow down and pay more attention to what is happening around you. I call it purposeful lollygagging.
There are several exercises you can do to promote good balance Take a balance class to learn which exercises will benefit you the most. These types of classes are often available at your local senior center, or you can look online. Do these daily and don’t allow yourself to stop when you go on holiday. Always take you good habits with you when you travel.
Once you have built up your stamina, and invested time in balance exercises you are ready to sign up for a walking holiday. There are many companies that cater to the over 55 crowd. My favorite is Overseas Adventure Travel. They always provide both harder and easier options for activities — including opting out completely. They welcome solo travelers and the price is right.
Road Scholar is another good company for Boomers who want to learn while they burn calories. Choose a realistic destination with various levels of terrain to explore. Do your research!
Losing a few pounds is another good way you can help yourself meet your mobility goals. Carrying extra weight is hard on your joints. I have been working on the same ten pounds for that last ten years, but with less vigorous exercise it has turned into twenty!! I know it is easier said than done, but we must do our best to slim down to get the best out of our remaining years.
Invest in good walking shoes and break them in before you leave home! Traveling light can make walking easier. This means you bring along only your essentials, and consider using a lightweight comfortable backpack for your gear.
Before embarking on a trip, check with your health care provider to make sure you are fit and be sure to get whatever vaccinations or medications are required for your destination. Equally important, make sure you have an adequate supply to all prescriptions of drugs that you take regularly.
Lastly, get emergency medical evacuation travel insurance even if you are traveling within the U.S. Medicare does not cover you outside of the U.S., so I advise getting full coverage for international trips. I will update travel insurance information in my next article.
Remember that the key to a successful walking holiday as a “Boomer” is careful planning, preparation, and listening to your body.
Adventure travel writer, Linda Ballou, is the author of three novels and numerous travel articles appearing in national publications. Linda’s Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales is the first installment in her Lost Angel Adventure trilogy. It is an armchair traveler’s delight filled with adventure to whet your wanderlust. Linda loves living on the coast of California and has created a collection of her favorite day trips for you in Lost Angel in Paradise. Lost Angel Unleashed, the third book in her travel series, is travel memoir that takes you on her most meaningful journeys and some destinations to die for… Learn more at www.LostAngelAdventures.com