I’m getting a kick out of rethinking senior travel. And definitely not as merely a slow-motion version of travel-as-usual. My target is a thorough redesign, customized to suit our elder interests and capacities. Why, where, when and how to travel are all on the drawing-board. With imagination and ingenuity, I’m confident we can create senior travel experiences that are relaxing and reflective, educational and entertaining.
Here are some journal notes from initial field experiments. Plus distillations of suggested guidelines. As always, your candid feedback and inputs will move us closer to Agile Aging.
REST & RECUPERATION
Nancy and I were sipping lattes in Riverside’s Mission Inn, physically and emotionally exhausted. We’d just participated in my older brother’s burial in the nearby National Veterans’ Cemetery. Bob’s sudden passing had occurred two days after my law-school class’s 50th Reunion, where I’d been actively involved in program management. I’d jumped on a plane to Southern California to help his son take charge of funeral arrangements. Nancy had stayed behind at home, honoring our joint obligation to co-host an independent authors’ festival. Then she’d rushed her latest mystery manuscript to her publisher and sprinted south in our car, arriving at the cemetery just in time to change clothes for the graveside ceremony.
The Mission Inn was proving to be the perfect restorative oasis. Although a Southern California native, I’d never heard of this eccentric, enchanting National Historic Landmark. When scrambling for Riverside accommodations, I’d stumbled upon a rave review in a Barnes & Noble travel section. We’d booked a room and settled in for a recuperative sojourn.
The first thing we noticed as we began to get acquainted with this bustling hub was how we were moving slower than everyone else. Our daily program, made up as we went along, was to sit still, savor garden colors and fragrances, splash in the near-vacant pool, snack when hungry or curl around a good book in a secluded cul-de-sac. Rambles through the intriguing complex’s corridors and stairwells revealed evolving architectural styles and intermittent construction.
All around us, name-tagged conventioneers were networking in the hotel’s bars or rushing from snatched breakfasts to scheduled seminars. Anxious mothers and aunties with cellphones unloaded SUV fleet-loads of dresses and makeup for wedding receptions. Our days and nights were different. A candlelit courtyard supper reminded us of joyful years in Italy. Coffees and croissants let us observe the pedestrian parade and chat with a youthful café manager about his career aspirations. Enjoying the pleasure of pauses, we didn’t have to get anywhere. Only be. This was senior playtime in a magic castle.
What we were so enjoying was the experience of travelling, process rather than place. From this perspective, the quirky Inn was less a destination than an experience. We found ourselves celebrating leisure rather than activity.
In that same spirit, we began to contemplate our return journey home, overland to California’s Central Coast. Free of any arrival deadline, we saw no need to follow the most-direct Google-map route. A relaxed pace on country roads could extend this new satisfyingly senior approach to travel. [To be continued…]