It's a common misconception that aging signifies a slowing down in life. In fact, aging should be considered the opening of a new life, with different experiences as rich as those had in youth.
Hans Christian Anderson once said that "to travel is to live." Travel, especially with seniors, is key to a healthier aging, as moderate activity is usually the number one way to lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and cancers, according to a recent study by the Global Correlation for Aging (GCOA).
What's more, travel can improve seniors' mental health as well as physical. In a poll regarding travel by GCOA, they found that 80 percent of seniors say travel helps to improve their general mood and outlook toward life. Travel has also been found to increase seniors' brain activity and cognitive stimulation, which can potentially delay the onset of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Panhandle Senior Travelers knows the intangible value of travel for seniors.
In 2005, spouses Terry and Carolyn Reeves organized the non-profit association for seniors 50 years and older, specifically to provide affordable travel and social opportunities. They have a board of eight directors who manage the funds and finalize the outings. The board rotates out completely every two years and is made up entirely of volunteers.
According to the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens, having a variety of positive social supports can contribute to psychological and physical wellness of senior individuals. Along with travel, having a vibrant social life is important for a senior's mental and physical health; this further solidifies the importance of an organization like Panhandle Senior Travelers (PST).
One of the main concerns for seniors is a lack of retirement funds for travel. Traveling can be expensive, and although seniors dream big about retirement traveling, they don't always have the money to make their dreams a reality. PST takes this into account when organizing their trips.
Susan Breed, a travel planner with PST and a four-year member, says what makes their trips affordable is the lack of interim fees. Volunteers with PST organize the trips themselves, rarely with the assistance of an outside planner. Colonial Trailways in Mobile, Ala. typically provides transportation; for international trips, they usually enlist the services of AAA.
"We do everything and usually pay the venues with cash ourselves when we arrive," says Susan, "but since we aren't a business and don't have a company credit card, sometimes we'll do all the work ourselves, then pay Trailways to provide transportation and make all the final arrangements for us with no extra fees." That means the cost of a trip is solely the price of the venue and the price of transportation, rather than fees to outside parties, like travel planners or booking sites.
There is often a group rate involved, which lessens the cost even more. Day trips cost approximately $50 and two-day trips around $250. Longer trips, typically one week, usually cost between $1500 and $2000.
"We try to do two long trips per year, then several overnight or two day trips, and the rest are day trips," says Susan. "In the past we've gone to Canada, Niagra Falls, and Albuquerque by bus. We also try to do around one out-of-the-country trip per year." This year, PST will spend eight days in London in September.
This past February they spent three days in LaFayatte, La. celebrating the Courir de Mardi Gras. In April, they'll be on an overnight trip in Union Springs, Ala. catching a play at the Red Door Theater and touring the Hyundai Plant. In May, they plan to visit Ark Encounter on a multiple-day trip to Kentucky.
If you're over 50 and seeking an adventure in your life, check out the Panhandle Senior Travelers. You can stay active, make new friends and experience new places without completely breaking the bank.
To find out more about Panhandle Senior Travelers and their future excursions, visit pstravelers.org or join their Facebook page, Panhandle Senior Travelers!
2023 Council on Aging of West Florida
P.O. Box 17066 Pensacola, FL 32522 Phone: 850-432-1475
Homemaker and Companion AHCA Registration #4941
United Way Partner Agency
Council on Aging of West Florida is compliant with the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability. Learn more at www.bbb.org.