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The beach at Jost Van Dyke today -- deceptively peaceful. Photo by nickelstar, on Flickr.

Pacing yourself is easy on a beach in the British Virgin Islands. Photo by nickelstar, on Flickr.

With travel largely curtailed this summer, basic travel wellness procedures may get overlooked. But when it’s time to travel again, it’s wise to review some of the basics, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, pacing yourself, and making sure any medications are in order.

Guest writer Shaun DMello has some good tips and reminders for staying healthy on the road, especially for those past 50.

By Shaun DMello

The growing population of senior travellers is evidence that you can live a life of travel and adventure no matter your age —  especially if you stay healthy. Adopting healthy habits won’t diminish your vacation fun – it’s just about making smart choices that allow you to keep having fun. Here are some you can incorporate into your travel routines:

  • Fight Jet Lag

Many trips start with a long flight.  Since jet lag tends to worsen with age, don’t scrimp on your tickets. Instead of looking for the cheapest flights, search for ones without long, tiring stopovers and that reach your destination late at night or early in the morning.

This will allow you to either go to sleep at your hotel or, if you’ve gotten some sleep on  the plane, to begin your day as soon as you get there. The latter is preferable for readjusting to your new time zone — if you can stay awake.

You can also start tweaking your meal and sleep timings a few days ahead of your trip to prepare your body for the time change

  • Pace Yourself

When it comes to healthy travel,  the cliché rings true – “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”  Don’t try to cram in as much as you can into a single day or even a single vacation.

Slow it down and spread your itinerary so that you can really savor the local life and culture. You might not see all of the sights, but you’ll leave feeling enriched, not fatigued.

  • Sleep & Relax

Adequate sleep and relaxation is always important, but more so when you’re travelling.

Crossing time zones, lugging baggage, and walking extensively can be physically demanding and the older we get, the harder it becomes to bounce back quickly.

Bike tours are a great way to see the countryside and get some exercise.

Bike tours are a great way to see the countryside and get some exercise.

While pacing yourself will help lower the risk of exhaustion and fatigue, it doesn’t reduce sleep and relaxation requirements. Inadequate sleep and relaxation exact both a physical and mental cost, sapping energy levels, weakening immunity, increasing inflammation, and raising your stress levels.

Meanwhile, make sure your chosen accommodations aren’t undergoing big, noisy construction projects or are located in raucous nightlife areas — both can be ruinous for good sleep.

  • Stretch, Exercise, Breathe

Pacing yourself and getting enough sleep doesn’t mean you have to miss out on travel experiences.

Start your mornings with a few minutes of stretching exercises and some deep breathing just to get prepped for the day. This will raise your energy levels and boost your mood, allowing you to dive into the adventures that lie ahead.

While it would be a good idea to also practice a workout routine in your room or at a local gym, you can get enough physical activity just from walking or cycling through town instead of using car rentals or taxis.

  • Eat Smart

Part of the trick to eating relatively healthy while traveling is to have a hearty breakfast, preferably with high protein content to keep you feeling full longer.

Instead of having both lunch and dinner out, try to have a healthy lunch with whole foods – such as fresh fruits and veggies from a grocery store, or eating at salad bars rather than burger and fast food joints.

When out exploring during the day, you can also carry healthy snacks such as trail mix and protein bars; you might even find that they’ll tide you over till dinner if you’ve had a big breakfast.

Of course, sampling the local cuisines is central to the travel experience, so go ahead and indulge your food cravings and discoveries at dinner.

  • Beware of Overdoing Alcohol 

You’re never too old to enjoy some pub crawling and bar hopping, but once again you need to slow it down.

Will you be covered for medications overseas or in another state?.

Keeping track of and taking your meds is critical while traveling.

Aside from the fact that most alcoholic drinks are packed with calories, alcohol can severely stress your system, increasing dehydration, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cause other unpleasant hangover symptoms. If you restrict drinking to the evenings and pace yourself, you should be fine.

  • Carry Your Own MediPack

When you’re traveling, the last thing you want to worry about is medication.

Unfortunately, many folks over 50 suffer from health conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. To save yourself  trouble, carry your list of prescriptions as well as the medications themselves.

It doesn’t hurt to bring along aids for common travelers’ complaints such as diarrhea, constipation and hemorrhoids.

While there are few things more frustrating than getting sick on vacation, you can minimize the risk — and feel more energetic throughout your trip  — by following these seven simple steps.

Author bio: Shaun DMello is a prolific writer who has worked with a wide range of health and wellness brands for over a decade. His main areas of expertise are nutrition, fitness, natural medicine, public health, and health care technology. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading a good book and curled up on a recliner, jostling for space with his four cats.

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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