So Many Things We Like to Do are Now Scientifically Proven as Good for Our Health

Here’s a shocker. The news is good! Both chocolate and travel, two of our favorite things, have been proven to have health benefits.

So listen up. With kids or without, single, married, or newly divorced. Take some time and travel! And bring a bit of chocolate along just in case you get hungry. How lucky are we that the things we love to do are now considered good for our health?

Traveling promotes creativity (think: more fun than Sudoku or Bridge), holds depression at bay, and keeps us moving. Ah but, you say, “it’s too expensive!”  However, this is not so!

With a bit of research, and lots of ingenuity, you can travel for free. My friend Burt retired after forty years of teaching. He assessed his skills and soon realized that tour guides are educators. He subsequently travelled the world leading others. Of course he could have taught English abroad for a private company or in one of the numerous international schools, but he wanted a complete change from the traditional classroom.

Other friends have joined the Peace Corps. It still exists though is not nearly as large as in its  1960’s hay day. Back then they wanted generalists with bachelor’s degrees. Now they prefer people with real-world work experience.

You could also be an au pair for a family in another country should you want an extended and intimate look at another culture. Or you could travel as a babysitter with an American family.

If you are a talented writer, painter, poet, or musician, apply for a residency at one of the many artists’ colonies around the globe. Or you could try to earn your living as a busker on street corners, though it it tough to make a living from small change. Talented musicians often can find gigs that pay their expenses.

For those of you who prefer going from place to place rather than staying in one locale, try working on a cruise ship as a waiter or bartender, or, if you are lucky, as a lecturer. Hop on a freighter at a much reduced rate and comfort level.

If you just want to enjoy a break on the cheap, start saving points for free mileage on airlines and towards discounted hotel rooms. If you use them judiciously, you can travel at a huge discount. Check out travel blogs and subscribe to e-letters about how to earn and use rewards, e.g., credit cards with generous offers for opening accounts.  Be sure to evaluate alternatives to get the best value, i.e., the most points or miles for the lowest cost.  Of course, if you have the opportunity to fly for business or pleasure, join your favorite airlines’ clubs.  

Ask your employer to forget the gold watch and tell everyone who gives you gifts that for the next two years you would like contributions to a trip travel fund. Or put it on your wish list for your engagement, wedding, birthday or other special occasion.

If you do decide to travel, here are some handy-dandy hints to make your travels easy and comfortable.

  1. Use bathrooms when you see them, they may be few and far between, especially in developing countries or remote locations.
  2. Consider ships if you have mobility challenges
  3. Use airline services for in-airport conveniences and transportation assistance; if you need wheelchair assistance, book ahead with your airline
  4. Book trips with travel agencies specializing in mobility-sensitive travel
  5. Avoid street food or at least follow the rules to avoid stomach problems. Eat only cooked food that is hot–remember! Even in the fanciest hotels many of the workers go home to abodes without plumbing and do not consistently wash their hands with soap before handling food.
  6. Expect the unexpected
  7. Book accessible hotel rooms if needed
  8. Make the most of your waits: read, listen to books on tape, watch videos on your smartphone, talk with people
  9. Take your Kindle or smartphone so you can read or respond to emails anywhere with wifi
  10. Pack judiciously—you don’t need your whole wardrobe (weight is the enemy of the traveler)
  11. Ask for help lifting suitcases; you’ll meet some very nice young people
  12. If you are single or traveling alone for any reason, research trips that do not add a “single supplement,” which is burdensome for solo travelers

Now that we have dealt with the cost and logistical barriers to travel, let us suggest ways to overcome another obstacle. If you do not want to travel alone, explore all-inclusive trips such as  Smithsonian, Overseas Adventure Travel, Road Scholar.

No excuses now! You can travel (as well as eat chocolate) and now we should . . . for our health!

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