You don’t have to be a twenty or thirty-something to pack your bag and hit the road. Travel can make us feel young again at any age.
In the classic Pixar movie Up, Carl Fredricksen is a 78-year-old widower who has always dreamed of traveling to Paradise Falls in South America. After Carl’s wife dies unexpectedly and he faces the possibility of moving into a nursing home, he ties thousands of balloons to his house and floats off to explore the destination of his dreams.
Up might be a fictional cartoon, but its core message is very real. It’s important to embrace life while you still can and do those things you’ve always wanted to do. With the right attitude and a bit of gumption, age can’t hold us back.
Luckily for you, a thousand balloons aren’t necessary. There are plenty of convenient ways to fulfill your bucket list adventures, see the world, and feel younger while doing it.
Here are five ways that travel can make us feel young again…
1. You get a new kind of education.
You’ve learned a lot over the years. It’s likely that some of it has come in handy (see: how to change a tire), while some has not (see: calculus). One of the best things about adulthood is that you have the freedom to learn about the things that truly interest you.
But you can only learn so much from the comfort of your living room. Books can teach us the facts and the history of a place. But in order to really learn about the world, we’ve got to get out and see it for ourselves.
Travel is a way to return to the classroom, but without the bossy teachers and homework. Travel will remind you of how satisfying it is to feed your brain with first-hand information about people, art, culture, food, politics, history, religion… and did we mention food?
You could even find yourself teaching others while you travel. A volunteer teaching trip could allow you to share English with schoolchildren in Guatemala, who can later use those language skills to find jobs and further their own education.
What better way to learn than to pass our own knowledge on to others?
2. Get a workout that doesn’t feel like exercise.
Wandering around the ancient stone structures of Machu Picchu feels like stepping into the pages of a mystical storybook. Who would have guessed that you also burn as many calories as you would during a trip to the gym (if not more)?
When we’re surrounded by the new sites and sounds of a foreign place, we often don’t realize how much we’re working our bodies in the process. Walking, hiking, climbing, exploring… it’s all just part of the fun.
Maybe you’ll try a new outdoor activity in your next destination, such as white water rafting or surfing. Discovering new ways to move and work our bodies is even more exciting. Of course, you don’t have to do anything crazy. A walking tour of a new city is great, too!
Since exercise has been proven to prevent disease and slow the aging process, we should all be doing more of it. But doing it on the road is a lot more fun!
3. Learn about natural remedies and nutrition.
Have you ever heard of camu camu or cupuacu?
You probably won’t find them in your local grocery store, but you will find them in the Amazon jungle of Peru, along with an abundance of other “super foods.” Camu camu helps to fight off the common cold. Cupuacu heightens your body’s immune system and lowers blood pressure. These are powerful fruits!
There are so many fascinating natural remedies and nutritional foods around the world that we don’t often hear about at home. Often, the only way to find these health- and youth- enhancing foods is through travel.
Traveling to find special fruits buried in the wilderness of a foreign land might sound a little crazy. But there are more accessible ways to find these things on the road, through farmer’s markets, small villages, spas, and health/wellness retreats.
Perhaps there’s an ailment you’re looking to address with alternative options. Or maybe you’re simply interested in learning new ways to eat healthy and in turn, feel younger. Either way travel can help you find them.
4. Find peace and quiet.
Our day-to-day lives are often anything but quiet. When we travel, we can seek out those special places that provide us with extra peace and solitude.
Perhaps you’ll find that sense of peace at a meditation retreat, or simply by swinging in a hammock in Thailand, surrounded by the sounds of birds you’ve never heard.
Travel can be chaotic, too. But if peace and quiet is what you’re looking for, you can find it in so many fascinating places around the world, from a private hotel room in Paris, to a beach in small-town Belize.
Allowing ourselves to relax and focus on ourselves is an excellent way to let go of many years of stress. So let yourself drift back in time, breathe deep, and soon you may find that you feel like a younger you.
5. Laughter is the best medicine.
Have you ever had an elephant eat a banana out of your hand? We dare you to try it and not laugh when the silky skin of their long snout slides across your palm.
But we don’t need the largest land mammals to make us laugh on the road. The experience of leaving our comfort zone and trying new things brings with it both obstacles and joys that lead to laughter of a very special kind.
It’s the kind of laughter that happens when we realize that the world is so big and life is so beautiful. It’s the kind of laugher that happens when we realize that, in the grand scheme of things, we are so small. Our worries and our troubles back home tend to seem less tiresome when we’re discovering these wonderful things.
Travel will make you laugh like you haven’t laughed since you were a kid. You’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time to the playground of your youth.
• • • • •
You can experience and learn new things at any age, and travel is the perfect way to do so. Whether you’re looking to relax and rejuvenate or be active and challenge yourself, travel has the power to enliven the senses, ignite inspiration, and make us feel young again.
So get out there and find the balloons (or the airplane) that will take you away to your dream destination. If not now, when? –Britany Robinson
BIO: Britany Robinson is a freelance travel and culture writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her works appears in BBC Travel, Mashable, The Daily Dot and more. Her blog, Travel Write Away, shares advice and musings on travel writing. When she’s not planning her next big trip, she’s scoping out Portland craft beers and local hikes.