Travel Adventures Both Near and Far
By Leah Lancione
The Roman philosopher Seneca had it right when he said, “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” For many retired individuals travel is just that – an opportunity to rediscover the energy and vitality of their youth. After decades of climbing the corporate ladder or raising children, many in the “primetime” set relish opportunities to explore foreign locales or those within their own backyard. Some choose to travel as couples, others prefer to venture out on their own and some find comfort in joining group trips coordinated by senior centers or travel agencies.
In Maryland, each county’s department of aging offers a variety of organized trips to members of regional senior centers. Center members can take advantage of group rates and meet other adventurous travelers who now have the time to say, daytrip to St. Michael’s, cruise to Mexico, Alaska or the Caribbean, tour quaint towns along the Chesapeake Bay, try their luck in Atlantic City, attend performances of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, boogey down at Opryland, or take in a Broadway show in the “Big Apple.”
Citizens in Anne Arundel County can visit www.aacounty.org/Aging/index.cfm to peruse the extraordinary list of trips offered to members. Each center has a tour committee or trip desk in place to provide active seniors with travel details, itineraries, prices and schedules for the year’s slate of excursions.
Becky Batta, director of the Annapolis Senior Center, said all seven of the county senior centers offer day and extended trips in an effort to encourage seniors to travel. She acknowledges that the benefits of traveling for seniors are numerous. “They enjoy the socialization and travel as singles, groups of friends and couples. They also make new friends on the trips.” Batta says the change from the daily routine and the opportunity to see other parts of Maryland, the U.S. and the world make travel appealing to retired individuals.
Batta tells seniors interested in doing more traveling to start out with a senior center trip because the itinerary and transportation details are planned ahead at time, whether by bus, train or plane. “You can try new restaurants, see new museums and take interesting tours at a discount rate,” Batta says.
For 2009, Arnold Senior Center invites members to take advantage of trips to Cape Cod, the National Arboretum and Gardens in Washington D.C., a riverboat cruise and crab feast along the Choptank River, or guided tours of Hollywood and Las Vegas, to name a few.
The Annapolis Senior Center offers outings to Midway Slots in Delaware, cruises to Nova Scotia and through the Panama Canal, a scenic train ride in West Virginia, a trip by motor coach to New York City and then Canada, jaunts to Atlantic City and many more themed expeditions.
In Edgewater, the South County Senior Center beckons members to join the ranks on a trip to explore the Pacific Northwest or on a Caribbean cruise, or to discover Colorado by train, experience guided tours through Vermont and Maine, and more.
Senior center trips facilitate the learning about local and foreign cultures through narrated tours, the introduction to regional cuisine and in many cases encourage seniors to get up and walk. The double bonus of walking tours is that seniors can sightsee and exercise all in one!
Those not ready to join the adventurous senior center set need only call a reputable travel agency like Eyre Tour and Travel based in Glenelg, Maryland. Ellen Kilby, tour manager, says the company can make any destination dream a reality. Able to coordinate package trips for groups or couples, she said travelers can take advantage of group rates for day, overnight or week-long trips to places like Jamaica and Riviera Maya in Mexico for soaking up the sun, to New York City for show hopping and Madison Avenue shopping or to places like Williamsburg and Gettysburg for enlightening excursions. Groups signed up for one the company’s motor coach tours benefit from pricing discounts and have the luxury of not having to drive.
Kilby said 75 percent of Eyre Tour & Travel’s clientele are 60-years-old and over. “The retired population is our biggest demographic, and our Travel Update catalogue goes out to more than 25,000 people in the Baltimore/Washington area.” She encourages couples, individuals or groups to call or check out Eyre’s Web site at www.eyre.com because its staff has all the pertinent travel information “at their fingertips.” Kilby said once she’s contacted by a group she offers to meet with them to answer questions about group travel and to help “get the ball rolling.” Details like price, reservations, itineraries, and transportation – all the necessary legwork – is taken care of by experienced travel agents.
Kilby suggests new “trekkers” start out with a day trip – maybe an outing to the Philadelphia Flower Show or a luncheon cruise along the Potomac River in Washington D.C. More experienced travelers can pick from offerings including overseas adventures to visit the Pyramids in Egypt or to see the Swiss Alps by train, or the wide range of adventures in the U.S., like a day trip to Richmond for a NASCAR race or a romantic getaway to California’s Wine Country or a journey through beautiful cities in the deep South like Charleston and Savannah.
One good tip: Before you pack your bags, check the American Geriatric Society Foundation’s “Safe Travel Tips for Older Adults” at www.healthinaging.org. Also, the CDC offers a travel site www.cdc.gov/travel/ that lists information on avoiding food- and water-borne illnesses country by country.