I have been traveling since my early twenties. It all began with the obligatory backpack trip around Europe by bus and train. I continued to travel into my 30s, but as I moved into my 40s and am now inching my way towards 50, the way I travel has required a few tweaks.
No more last-minute flights to anywhere with a bunch of clothes shoved into a pack 20 minutes before heading out! I have had to make some minor changes to how, when, and where I travel now.
Here are six ways I’ve adjusted to accommodate traveling in my late 40s.
1. Purchase luggage with your travel needs in mind
Quality is key, as is something practical and unfussy. I refuse to spend exorbitant amounts of money on suitcases that look good but cut into the cost of my actual travel time, nor am I interested in lugging 25 pounds around on my back. When it comes to travel luggage, I opt for well-made, but simple styles. Something I can wheel into an airport, but also throw into the back of a flatbed truck if necessary.
Several years ago my partner and I found a sturdy, well-made duffel bag/backpack on wheels. It’s bumped down the cobblestone streets of Prague, been ferried by motorboat up to a mountainside cabin, and even survived being wheeled through the snow and ice between airports in deep winter. We can use it like a suitcase or pick it up and haul it like a duffel bag. We’ve had it for over 12 years and, although well-traveled, its wheels, stitching, and fabric are still intact.
2. Pack in case your bag gets lost
After having had luggage delays or lost baggage occur too often, I now pack expecting those scenarios. I always include a change of clothes, socks, and underwear in my carry-on bag. You can usually purchase affordable toiletries at your destination, but not everyone wants to spend lots of money on new clothes.
If you’re traveling with your partner, pack two suitcases and put half of your clothes and toiletry needs in each. That way if one bag gets lost, you’ll still have spares in the other’s suitcase.
3. Plan your arrival for the morning and your return for late afternoon or evening
I’m getting too old for late-night arrivals and the struggle of finding my first night’s lodging after 8–10 hours on a sleepless flight. Now I always book my trips for an am arrival. You may still be fatigued, but it’s easier to find help and get yourself situated safely in the morning hours than it is to be fumbling around an unknown city in the wee hours of the night.
When flying back home, it’s much nicer to give yourself the morning hours on your return day to take in a few more sights, have extra time to pack, and no need to rush to the airport to catch your flight.
4. Use multiple forms of transportation wherever you go
It’s much more fun to experiment with your transportation options, especially if you’re on a trip for a good chunk of time.
Rent a moped or a scooter or a bicycle to get around your city. Take a day trip on a boat or a local bus tour. Plan for a hike or a walking tour and bring a picnic lunch. You’ll get to know the city more intimately and your sightseeing will be much more interactive. Rent a car to get between destinations.
My partner and I enjoy the freedom this allows in our schedule, and often we find a hidden gem that we would have missed if we’d traveled only by bus or train. Do what works for you but try to mix it up to add a little extra adventure!
5. Bring extra snacks
Of course, you want to enjoy the local cuisine, and you should! But as I’ve aged my diet has undergone some changes and I like to be prepared in case what’s on offer doesn’t work for me. I always keep granola bars and an apple in my day pack.
Bring what will fit your dietary and allergy needs. Prepare in advance of your trip by purchasing small cups of peanut butter, applesauce, or other non-perishables to carry with you on days you’re out and about.
And, if you’ve forgotten to bring your own snacks, you can always find the local market for a loaf of fresh bread, a chunk of cheese, and a ripe tomato to munch on throughout the day.
6. Work fitness into your daily routine now
Traveling while aging makes different demands on the body, whether you are already fit or not. You don’t want to be a few days into your trip and feel too sore and exhausted to explore.
Start adding little bursts of fitness into your week now. Begin stretching. Take a 10-minute walk on your breaks. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. You don’t have to train like you’re preparing for a triathlon, but a little bit of added flexibility and strength will help you enjoy your vacation a whole lot more.
These small changes have allowed me to feel more relaxed, more comfortable, and less stressed when I travel, especially when it’s to a destination that is new to me. What travel tweaks have you made as you’ve come into your 40s and 50s?