By Cathy Wagner RN, BSM

Deaconess Home Services Liaison

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Traveling is good for the soul, whether it is across town to see grandchildren or to Florida for the winter. If it is driving, flying, or cruising, traveling still has some common factors to consider for all of us.

Long hours in the car, plane or train are hard on our circulation and joints. The past two weekends, I spent 34 hours in the car moving one child to a new job and one home from college. I can tell you from experience that you need to get out, stretch, and walk. It helps avoid getting stiff, swollen legs, or even blood clots. Exercising is good for the brain and the body.

If you can’t always walk around, try these exercises. One is simply pointing your toes up and down, then around in a circle. Do this 10 times on each leg, then repeat each hour. Another is marching in place in your seat (Caution: don’t do this if you are driving). Lift your legs up and down, alternating them, moving your arms forward and backwards. Doing these simple exercises helps guard against swelling, stiffness, and blood clots.

Try to eat and drink smart on the road. Packing a cooler with bottles of water and fresh fruit is cheaper and better for you than stopping at a fast food restaurant.

Some people are fortunate to travel for extended periods of weeks or months. Check your medications. Will some need refilled while you’re gone? If so, talk to your doctor well in advance of your trip and ask for a prescription to take with you to have your medication refilled. Or, if it’s too late, take your prescription bottle with you to a pharmacy where you’re vacationing, and ask them to call the doctor to refill the prescription.

Packing for any trip can be tricky. Ladies, be honest … most of the time we don’t wear half of what we pack. Guys, you do need more than one shirt. There is a happy medium there somewhere. What do you wear around the house during the week? That’s what you would need to pack for vacation. Remember, less luggage, less hassle.

Also, don’t take everything in your purse with you on vacation. Take only what is necessary: a credit/debit card, picture ID, insurance card. Your library card, Sam’s card, etc., don’t need to go on vacation. If your purse would ever be lost or stolen while on vacation it is easier to replace just a few items.

Fortunately, there are many options for traveling these days that don’t include moving children. Taking trips that peak your interest help stimulate the brain. Do you like history? Visit historical places and learn about the area. Do you have a hobby such as woodworking or crafting? You can find events centered around these activities in your favorite hobby magazines. Here you can meet other people with the same interests. Looking at guided tours? Some tours have different activity levels to accommodate all age groups. Take your time, research the web, and talk to travel agents and friends who have taken these trips for suggestions.

There is a new area on AARP’s website (, written by Samantha Brown, AARP’s travel ambassador, formerly of the Travel Channel. I am looking forward to seeing what suggestions she has for 50-plus travelers.

Cathy Wagner is a member of the planning committee for the 6th annual Mid-America Institute on Aging, to be held August 8 and 9, co-sponsored by the University of Southern Indiana and SWIRCA & More. Registration information is at

SWIRCA Ivy Room Banquet Hall