Navigating the new realities of travelling when you’re older

Jun 17, 2023
My knee isn't the worst part of travelling. I've noticed that my vision is changing. My depth perception isn't what it used to be. Source: Getty

Travel isn’t easy anymore. Ask anyone over 50 and they will agree.

We just got back from a whirlwind trip to Los Angeles. Thankfully, I survived. I’ve always enjoyed travelling, meeting new people, and seeing new sights. But the task of travelling is becoming more problematic as I age. How about you?

We moved to Naples, Florida four years ago to take care of my mother-in-law. At first, it was a shock. Florida seemed like the antithesis of Los Angeles. It seemed quiet. It seemed boring. Where were all the art galleries, groovy people, and eclectic restaurants?

I grew up in the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, with a constant infusion of stimulation. Whatever I wanted to do was available if I was willing to commute. I was never bored. But I was always a little anxious. 

In the past four years, I’ve gotten used to a slower pace of life.

On this last visit, I had to constantly be aware of my surroundings. Is somebody going to cut me off on the freeway? Will somebody bang on me? Will I trip? I don’t recognise this neighbourhood anymore. Why arent the streetlights brighter?

But my family is in LA, and so are most of my closest friends. So I have to buck up and face the music if I want to see them. Many of them are older now and for a multitude of reasons they cant travel.

On the way home, we almost missed our connecting flight. Why do airline carriers think that you can go from one terminal to another in forty minutes? Between the escalators and the trams, it was a real challenge. Often, I use a wheelchair because I can’t deal with schlepping so far, but there was a glitch, so I had to walk on my own. 

I don’t like escalators with my carry-on luggage with people stuffed behind me. I felt like a salmon swimming upstream. A few times I worried about tripping. Getting on and off those monorails reminds me of my business trips to New York 20 years ago, with aggressive travellers surrounding you just as the tram is starting to move. No, thank you.

But my knee isn’t the worst part of travelling. I’ve noticed that my vision is changing. My depth perception isn’t what it used to be. How deep are those curbs? Why are all the sidewalks so uneven? Why is everyone in such a hurry? We were surrounded by kids whose faces were glued to their phones. Many of them rarely look where they are going. And those stupid scooters… Who invented those?

At times I would grab onto my partners elbow, and we navigate together. She was nursing a bad foot on this last trip because she dropped a brick on her toe the day before we left, but thankfully, she didn’t break her toe. I think we both felt safer relying on one another.

Because we were doing so much walking, her limping made me chuckle. Now she knows what I go through when we are on these extensive trips.

I once hitchhiked around the United States when I was 23. That was 15 years ago, I went on a multitude of press trips by myself. I know those days are behind me. I guess we just do the best that we can with our limitations.

Has your attitude about travelling changed in recent years? What physical issues are you dealing with? Are you less adventurous than you used to be? How do you deal with this?

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