As our luxurious ICE Train from Hamburg to Copenhagen reached Puttgarten where we would magically roll on to a ferry that would take us to Denmark, there I was in the train hallway doing stretches and squats. The simple truth is that I like to stay fit and healthy while travelling, but on an 8-hour train journey, the options for exercise are somewhat limited.
Now that I am in my 60s, travelling is as much an adventure in challenging aging stereotypes as anything else. In order to demonstrate that older women are active, adventurous and bold, I really don’t mind anymore whether people think I am a little kooky. I do everything I can to keep up with my exercise regime and keep my fabulous aging body and mind in shape. Note the high energy positive self-talk here. If you are like me and want to enjoy travel forever, here are 5 ways to stay fit and healthy while on the road.
Cultivate a positive mindset
In my opinion, travel is so much more fun if you establish and maintain a consistent, unwavering positive attitude. ‘Expect the unexpected and embrace complexity and ambiguity’ is my travel mantra. Mindfulness helps me stay calm, reduce stress and keep things in perspective. Just 15 minutes of meditation every day helps me to focus and enables the practice of true travel ‘grace under pressure’. If you practice yoga that is another exercise you can do on a plane or train without raising too much suspicion.
Practice packing as an art form
There are a few things that improve with age. Wine, cheese, and some people would argue relationships. For me, packing is definitely another thing that improves over time. After you have finally given up on the search for the perfect suitcase, you can apply lessons from the pervasive mistake of over-packing. As you get older, you know yourself so much better and don’t worry so much anymore about superficial things. You are more focused on experience, not stuff. In my view, it is better to focus on comfort and convenience. I can’t remember the last time I packed my red stilettos and truly missed them. I try to make packing an art, defined by precision, clarity and heavily influenced by the wisdom gained from experience.
Know your physical weakness and be prepared
We all have our physical weaknesses. For instance, I always pack 3 pairs of reading glasses. Also, I know that if there is one thing that might give me problems on a trip it’s my ankles. I do actually love them because they are the only thing I can honestly say look exactly the same as when I was in high school. However, I’ve broken them twice in my life. They say making a mistake twice is an accident, but three times would be carelessness, so now I always pack a little ankle brace. As we get older we accept our physical limitations and anticipate our unique needs as part of our ‘stay healthy and fit’ plan.
Invest in a great pair of walking shoes
Having a great pair of walking shoes will do more than just protect your feet. They will give you the confidence to move with strength and fearlessness and help you to look and feel younger and more vital than any expensive anti-aging product in the world. Just feeling centred, strong and able to move with self-reliance is priceless.
Accept that station and airport food is not ‘real’ food
Experimenting with exotic foods and enjoying cultural specialties is one of the highlights of travel for me. However, staying healthy and fit for me involves setting some boundaries. Having a little box of healthy comfort snacks that you can break open when you arrive in a new city or hotel room is one of my secrets. My biggest downfall is train station convenience food machines where I constantly have to remind myself that a balanced diet does not consist of carbs, sugar and unpronounceable preservatives. A bottle of water and a little bag of almonds, walnuts and cranberries tucked away in my backpack is a good alternative for me.
If you combine these 5 tips with the obvious checklist of personal medications, daily exercise routines you can do in a hotel room, vaccinations and common sense, you will be able to stay fit and healthy while travelling. If you are a solo woman traveller here are some safety tips that you might want to consider as well.
Happy, healthy and interesting travels to everyone!