Seniors Couple with Map

With winter coming, our moods and minds can go to cold and gloomy places. But for retired people, often unencumbered by work schedules, schoolchildren and other responsibilities, escaping to different climes is easier than ever – and infinitely healthy.

According to research from the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS), the benefits of travel for seniors include improved mood and outlook, stress level, physical well-being, friendships, mental stimulation and health (lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and reduced risk of falling).

Americans are only just beginning to understand the value of travel for physical and mental well-being and social connections, according to a report from the GCOA entitled “Journey to Healthy Again: Planning for Travel in Retirement.” New experiences, environments and people stimulate and challenge the brain in ways that nothing else can. Even just planning for a trip, exploring flights, lodging, excursions, etc., is a mood-booster as well as cognitively stimulating.

In Naperville, spring break renders our bustling city a virtual ghost town, with many residents traveling hither and yon with children off school for a week. For those who remain, downtown Naperville makes for a great “staycation” during high travel times, with plenty of open parking spots, no waiting in restaurants, and quieter times to stroll the Riverwalk and bike or walk along the Prairie Path system.

Because Naperville is such a traveling town, finding opportunities to get away (and like-minded people with whom to travel) is like flipping through a virtual catalog of wanderlust – just pick a place and go. Sites like meetup.com allow visitors to choose where they want to go, what they want to do, and the distance from Naperville they wish to travel (between two miles and “any distance”).

Depending on the parameters, all number of groups featuring various travels and adventures fill the screen…hikes, biking trips, garden walks, backpack journeys, and the list goes on. Groups with names like “Italy Travelers,” “Bucket List Travel Club,” “Great Outdoors Survival” and “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” beckon with the promise of boundless excitement and fun. Also featured are the number of people in each group, scheduled outings, events and activities, and the ability to join or create a new group.

For residents of Monarch Landing, travel opportunities are even closer, with an active travel club of over 100 members right on site. For Barb Marsh, in fact, the community’s travel culture was the reason she moved in. Indeed, from local excursions to grandiose voyages to Europe and beyond, these folks like to move it, move it. And because they live in a secure, full-service community, they are free from the multiple concerns that go into leaving one’s single home for days or weeks at a time: What if the pipes freeze or burst in severe weather? What if my home or yard gets damaged? What if the power goes out? What if someone breaks in? Who will get the mail, take care of the pets?

It’s not really a vacation if you’re spending the whole time worrying about what’s going on back home. At Monarch Landing, residents can pack their bags and get away without a care in the whole wide they’re off to see.