When Your Whole World Feels Empty
Not Like Them – Those Other Old People (Again)

Travel While Old (and Resistance Notes)

[EDITORIAL NOTE: These travel complaints have been on my mind for a couple of weeks but they aren't wildly important unless you feel as I do. The Resistance Notes at the end are important.]


During my working life, I traveled a lot, sometimes hopping on a plane at a moment's notice to go across the country or across an ocean. I loved visiting places I'd only read about or seen in movies and the airlines, in those days, made getting there and back a pleasant, even glamorous, experience.

The 1970s and 1980s were prime time for airline travel. Plenty of room even for people with long legs, reasonably good meals served hot (even special ones if you ordered ahead), aisles wide enough that you could get up and stroll around to stretch your legs without banging into people who were napping.

Remember 747s? The middle rows were five seats wide and when I was traveling between Los Angeles and New York, there were often a few that were entirely empty so I used one as a full-length bed and slept the whole way. No objections from the flight attendants who even gently woke me when it was time to buckle up again for landing.

Best of all, the price was the price. Whatever was quoted to you was what you paid. No surprise charges for an aisle or window seat or food or checked baggage or carry-on items or, maybe soon, oxygen.

Unless you can afford first class, air travel has become torture and I don't think I need to recount all the ways it is now made so terribly difficult, even painful.


Therefore, I was surprised to read the results of an AARP survey about baby boomers' travel plans for 2016:

”Most respondents (97%) planned at least one domestic trip and nearly half (45%) planned international ones,” reports Irene S. Levine in MarketWatch (reprinted from Next Avenue).

“While most research about over-50 travelers focuses primarily on boomers, data on the Silent Generation (those born between 1925 and 1945) suggests that with improved health and increased longevity, these folks, too, are opting to travel...”

[DISCLOSURE: Ms. Levine interviewed me for this travel story.]

The report goes on to discuss how boomers are willing to spend more money than younger people to avoid hassles, they demand better service, plan trips far in advance and are intent on checking items off their bucket lists, among other changes from their youth.


From the quotations in the article, they are gung-ho about getting out and about to seeing the world as often as possible by air.

“We take ourselves less seriously because we have lost loved ones and realize what really is important in life.”

“Life is unpredictable and I think we need to do as much as we can while we can.”

“Loving every minute of travel even when it isn’t so great. Aren’t we lucky to be able to go?”

Well, not me. Can it be that I am alone in finding being crammed into a plane seat that doesn't accommodate even my five-foot, two-inch size? Or enduring flight delays of many hours (happened on my last three flights in a row with the worst food on earth at airports)?


How about the literal mile and more that must be walked between flights? Worse, once you finally get to the gate, you find it's been changed to another gate half a mile from where you are standing and none of those little jitneys airports used to have to carry people from here to there are anywhere to be found.

I've turned into such an old fart that it's just too much work to contemplate a plane trip and because there isn't anywhere I want to go that isn't at least six hours from where I am, it's a full day trip when you count to and from airports which means I'll be exhausted for at least a day after I arrive.

In addition, there is something else in play that I haven't entirely worked out. I just like being home. We have mentioned here that even after too many social engagements in a row (in my case, two days worth does it), we need some down time to recharge.

For me, it's not just dinner with friends or a meeting or other kind of gathering that psychically exhausts me. Being in the vicinity of hundreds of other people for several hours, even if I don't know them or speak with them, is exhausting. I don't entirely understand but it seems to be related to the normal hubbub of being surrounded by a huge group.

Or not. I haven't sorted that out yet but the bottom line is that I'm quite happy at home and my nearby environment. And I'm amazed, given those AARP statistics, at how many people put up with what I find too odious to suffer through.

What do you think?

* * *

There is a lot going on in Washington, D.C., enough to give me a major headache AND heartburn. Here are two items that I'm sure you're aware of.

First Item: Tomorrow, unless the Republicans change their mind, the full House of Representatives will vote on Trumpcare. Or, as it is more formally known, The American Health Care Act (AHCA).

The bill devastates Medicaid, harms people age 55-64 in other ways too and undermines the financial stability of Medicare. You'll find more detail about all that at this two-page Justice in Aging fact sheet [PDF].

It would be a good thing for you to call your representative today and tell him or her what vote you prefer.

Second Item: Last week President Donald Trump released his budget plan but it's not his alone. The budget contains many of the cherished draconian dreams of Republicans.

Instead of me, let's have John Oliver, host of the HBO show, Last Week Tonight, tell you about the bill's troubling priorities:


I will come back and read this post more carefully and of course, I will read comments.

Wanted to tell Ronni that I completely agree with her on airports and airlines. Especially hard for me and my wheelchair.

Side note: last summer we started planning special vacation to Washington D.C. for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Had to change dates, missing the festival. Going in May. I refused to fly, so will be long trip. I am not as excited as I was. All I can think of is how can I manage buses, etc.
And of course, I dread seeing White House with the fake president living inside.

I too, am a reluctant traveler. I tend to only travel to visit my Mom (long distance caregiver that I am) and my spouses' family every few years. I endure flying but do not enjoy it as I once did. And, like you, at this point in my life, I tend to be drawn to my inner, emotional life and simply love being home.

I have no desire to travel by air, and I am not fond of sitting in a car for long periods, but will be doing so this summer so as to take a family trip. We had considered flying, but decided we had plenty of time and didn't want the hassle of airlines and airports. A road trip sounds more fun.

I belong to a travel club that caters to seniors. If I was going to travel internationally I'd go on one of their escorted tours. They take care of all the details but still give you open time to be on your own in key cities. As much as I think they make travel as trouble free as possible, I have no interest in traveling with my old bones that couldn't take the long flights. Nope, I will continue to go to the monthly travelogues and feed off the excitement of other seniors who are doing their Bucket List check offs.

My last flight was in 2003, and I dread having to ever fly again (inevitably I will have to, since I have older siblings 700 miles away.) I used to love flying, but the thought now of all the standing and delays at airports makes me fearful. I don't see how I could ever physically or emotionally manage to do that.

There are many places I'd like to visit that are within a day or two's drive, but I now hesitate to go for long drives alone (used to love it). I worry about becoming exhausted many miles away from a good stopping place. Just contemplating a long trip of any kind makes me tired. I'd much happier staying home.

I am so glad you wrote on this subject. I am sitting here with $900.00 in Delta dollars to use before April 24, and I dread going through the hassle that has become flying. Seating is tantamount to sitting in a glove compartment, and while the attendants are polite, there is very little in the way of comfort. Last year, we flew back on Delta, first class, and it was also disgusting. Terrible food, lights were not working, and it just feels not clean. This does not even address the nightmare that is the airport and getting around, when you are a little older and slower. There has to be a better way, by the time you get to your destination, you are worn out. At Charlotte Airport, they were renovating and we had to leave the airport on foot, cross the street to get a rental car. bitch bitch moan moan sorry, but it is a little disheartening. At least I know I am not alone in this observation of flying.

My youngest daughter lives a day away in Coos Bay, Oregon. I used to love that 8 to 10 hour drive. More recently I take the train to Eugene where she gathers me up for the 2 hour drive to the coast. The last time I visited she paid for an airline ticket for me to travel from Bellingham, Washington to Portland, Oregon where she met me for the drive to the coast. The day was just as long as if I'd taken the train and I was subjected to the Seattle airport and on the return a long wait in the Eugene Airport and then a delay in Seattle. I arrived home tired and grumpy, not at all grateful for being able to fly.

I too have flown to many places in the world. Because of every airline experience you mentioned Ronnie, I prefer the train and the final two-hour bus ride. On the train I can get up to walk around, take my own food, reserve a seat ahead of travel, enjoy the coast line views and even the back yards of homes, farms and businesses. The people who work on the train are usually polite and helpful if I need help. Clearly they are not, or seem not as stressed as airline employees.

The bus driver deals with the I5 traffic and the weather. The seats are comfortable for a little snooze or a game of solitaire on my laptop, or quiet enough to become engrossed in a book.

A few years ago I took the train across the country and would do it again if it wasn't so expensive to buy a sleeping car. I loved meeting others who wouldn't fly if you paid them, again for all the reasons you wrote about. I dread flying to Detroit this spring to have time with my beloved family and friends who live there. What a crotchety old lady I've become about something that others enjoy and used to be an adventure and a privilege for me.

I must add that one of my daughters and her husband are flying to Europe this summer with 3 of my teenage grandchildren. I try not to imagine in the current * environment, what their experiences will be.

My last flight was 2015. It was exhausting and the miles of walking between terminals and gates took every positive feeling out of me.

I worry about deep vein thrombosis as I get older scrunched up into a pretzel as I'm 5'8". And mindful of elbows too.

Airlines have utter contempt for their custmers.

Car trips I still enjoy as long as I'm driving.

I have 4 consecutive "people" days this week and it is far too much. I like good breaks from human noise.


Absolutely. I haven't stopped flying altogether but it's at the level of once a year when I have to. I'm 6' 230 lbs and a football build. Seats these days are like putting on skinny jeans. They don't fit. The service is nonexistent. Airports are an annoyance. I'm of the mind that a self driving car will inflict a lot of damage to the airline industry.

Just say no to flying.

I agree with Marian that the train is a better way to travel in the US. Also, the price is reasonable with a senior discount. Also, many train trips have amazing views out the windows-or you can go to the viewing car. All in all, a better way to travel.

I agree with you, as usual. Many of my friends (in their 70s) travelled a lot in their youth and now really enjoy being at home.

It was the 80s and 90s when I did my international flying, with the judicious use of frequent flyer miles. It was a ball traveling to far away places from Bolivia to Siberia, from Iceland to Australia. then in the late 90s to 06, it was time for Europe, and what a good time that was even though, by then yes, the seats were getting tiny and planes more crowded. Still it was worth it, until one time when at deGaulle airport there was a 'security breach' and they shut down what seemed to be the entire International terminal. Turmoil? Oh, yes. It was the next day before I was able to continue my journey home.

In my early 70s then, that was the time when I decided my memories and pictures would do and I'd confine my travels to the USA. Now? I'm happy with exploring my own state and perhaps the two next door, and I do it by driving my trusty car.

I do not envy those who must fly these days, with hardly enough purchased space to fit a torso, let along the accompanying legs!

Some day folks will decide "enough is enough" and the airlines will have to change their ways. That, however, may be wishful thinking.

If they are going to pack you into a narrow seat with no legroom, not feed you, give you little or no service and rarely leave on time and generally treat you as if you are on a bus with wings, why not charge you accordingly.

I too used to love to fly but no more. No, I cannot walk fast enough to make it from one gate to another and can no longer stand up more than 10 minutes at a time. Being crumpled up in seat for hours is a no go too. My 19 year old niece flies home from college and has spent whole nights in the airport trying to get boarded. No more flying for me.

I still love car trips even though I have to stop every hour or so else I would have to winched out of my seat. However I've seen some lovely little towns and places we might have blown through in an earlier life. Takes extra time though which I have but not everyone I travel with does.

Truth be known, I am also delighted to get back to my peaceful home and into my own bed. Hanging out with a mob of people is not me. My one cruise with a friend and my sister was mostly fun and interesting. Dinner with my 1500 new friends, not so much. I'm glad I did once it but I won't be doing it again.

Just thinking about a trip via aircraft is exhausting for me. Apart from the train, or driving myself - especially sightseeing in Spain which we will do this June - my travelling days are done.

Recuperation from travelling gets longer and I get all peopled-out very quickly now and love being at home. Darlene, bless her, sends me wonderful slide shows of foreign parts - the latest in far-off places by drone. That is enough for me, old fart that I am.

Ooops, almost forgot. Thanks for the latest John Oliver White House budget insanity. Comical but serious and it drives the message home what ignoramuses they all are.

It seems we're all in agreement here. I'm so, so grateful I traveled the world in my working days, both on business and for pleasure. I will never, ever forget vacations to Positano, Oaxaca, Kazakhstan, and one to Florence for a week of cooking with Giuliano Bugliali. But no more, even if I could afford it. I like staying home, and I like my own pursuits.

My guess is that the seniors who still plan travel can afford to go first class. More power to 'em.

Like others here, I enjoy the memory of air travel years ago much more than the idea or reality of it today. My husband can't travel comfortably by any means these days, has such a demanding diet and medication regimen, and is so easily exhausted, due to his Type 1 diabetes, that we mostly stay at home, where I remind myself that, "No matter where you go, there you are."

I've become way too much of a homebody myself, and I'm just waiting for the refinement of virtual reality helmets where you can sit back in the comfort of your own home and dial up what ever experience you might like. Until then, a large screen TV and a good video of Planet Earth or something of similar quality works just fine.

I agree with everything you say about how air travel was and how it now is. I too have become a homebody and find crowds tiring. For me a little socialising goes a long way. One difference,however, is he bucket list of places to visit.

I wasn't able to travel much when I was younger and I did so much want to visit Italy and France and ride on a bullet train. I was fortunate enough to experience both. I traveled economy class, so you can imagine the discomfort of a 7 hour flight to Europe twice. It was worth every ache and pain to see Paris at night, the Mona Lisa, the Vatican and the David. And the joy of actually completing something on my bucket list was almost beyond expression.

I now have some lovely photos of my trip hanging in my condo to remind me that I actually did experience the awe inspiring beauty of the David. Love the blog.

I'm with you on traveling (you & I share the same age). When I was a young adult I loved to fly; it was a pleasant adventure. Steadily that joy has eroded so that flying for me is a horror & I quit. One key phrase is about how boomers are willing to spend more money than younger people to avoid hassles......That assumes that they actually have more money! Good for them!
Since retiring my only trips were to fly across the country to visit my family, but that is no longer necessary since I recently moved to join them! Can't afford to be a tourist so have given up those dreams, but I am happy not to have to step on a plane ever again.

I hate flying and avoid it for the train or a car when possible. But I am writing this comment from Lisbon, having come to Portugal for a week. (If possible, I would always choose a non-American flight. Even in economy they feed us, give us pillows and blankets, etc. At JFK (formerly Idlewild) I bought one of those neck pillow things -- best money I ever spent as it helped me fall asleep on the plane, something that I often find impossible to do.)

Although I fell twice out of clumsiness on this trip and am suffering with bruised knees as a result, I am glad to be here. We are fortunate to be doing day trips with guides, something I never experienced before, and that has made it much easier. Traveling is hard on the body; I have been ill and wasn't sure I was going to make this trip until just a few days before departure.

But here I am and here's what I'm feeling: happy to be out of the states for a few days; ashamed that my country has elected Trump; disquieted by the many abandoned buildings throughout this beautiful country (they have suffered a financial crisis almost as bad as Greece); aware that at my age and with my health problems, the number of trips like this I will be able to make in the future is limited; delighted by the warmth of the Portuguese people; more aware of my own heritage as a descendant of immigrants -- both my maternal and paternal grandparents immigrated to the USA from Italy. I cannot stand the white nationalism, born of ignorance, that Trump is instigating, and all the stupid talk of "American culture". Go back 250 years and we all came from somewhere else.

Thanks for this and all the comments. It's taken me a while to understand that I am indeed old, and as I have been more and more reluctant to travel, for all the above reasons, I have berated myself for being a wimp. That's me exercising my particular neurosis. But reading all the above makes me feel so much better! I too love being at home--with my adorable dogs--and doing my own thing. I have enough local commitments to keep me relatively, but not too, social. I have traveled a lot--in the 80's and 90's and a couple of times since. I have planned a Road Scholar (why couldn't they just keep Elder Hostel) trip to Norway in Oct., which looks spectacular, and I'm arguing with myself about whether I really want to go or not. I am fortunate in that my family lives here, except for a daughter in the Bay
Area, not far.

I have little to add. I've never been much of a traveler--haven't been on a plane in 30+ years. Until 2 years ago I was working, which took most of my time and attention. By the time I involuntarily retired at 78, I'd heard enough about present-day air travel and airport conditions to be completely turned off on the whole idea.

Then there's the outrageous cost, which is way out of reach for this nonprofit retiree (even if not for some boomers). No way could I afford first/business class. I sometimes wonder how the flying public ever allowed what used to be a great system and a generally pleasant experience deteriorate to what it is today--flying freight cars at tRumpian prices. Well, that's the "free market," right? Same direction we're heading with healthcare!

My husband can no longer tolerate long car trips, and I'm getting to the same point. So, here we are--at home with our 3 cats, which is O.K.

Well, of course you're right about the discomfort of flying. But even though my last trip took 34 hours to return from London, most of that was my own fault. My son-in-law suggests that I not buy another ticket that he doesn't approve of first. I flew Turkish Airlines from London to Istanbul to Atlanta. Pretty exciting; got to eat Turkish food in the airport lounge. But I should have paid $200 more for a non-stop flight. Oh well. It made a good story on my own blog.

The reward of getting to a new and beautiful or exotic place totally overcomes the airport and flying experience. I try to make all of it an adventure. I'm 75. I've got a trip (by car) to kayak for a week in South Carolina. Will learn a lot and test myself.

Thanks for the info about the Trump"care" bill on older Americans. I sent the fact sheet to my Senator.

I am 6' and fat, so unless I want to pay for two seats, it is simply not a viable option for me to fly any more. I used to make a reservation and then let them move me to wherever there was no one sitting next to me for my comfort as well as to not intrude on someone else's space. There are no empty seats now. So flying is torture for me and anyone next to me. I simply don't do it any longer.
Driving is okay for a while, but a bad back can make that difficult rather quickly. At this point I find sleeping on almost any bed other than my own also tortuous. I have my nest and other beds feel like sleeping on a slab of marble. Which makes the next day miserable from lack of sleep.
So, I stay home, and do occasional day trips. I want to travel, but it is not worth it. So I too live vicariously from those who still can and do, and enjoy the sanctuary of my own home.

This has been timely for me. I still day dream about countries I've not seen, and know that the work factor would be far greater now than five years ago, my last long air trip. Even when much younger, I would wonder as I prepared to travel........what will the lillies do while I'm gone? Will I completely miss the broccoli? I love my home and the nature outside, there's much that interests and excites me. Perhaps if I had a travel companion...........and there lies a rub. Though I love my friends, travelling with another is difficult for me. I need a lot of solitude, lack of talk, time to draw and just be. Who knows? As a fortune teller once said to me, " Ah, sometimes you like to travel, sometimes you like to stay home."

My next trip of any great length will definitely be bu rail !!

I have one other non-travel, resistance-related comment. The FAMILIES of older adults need to protest the AHCA as vehemently as their elders are. Reason: who will be called upon to pick up the shards of a broken system?

Many elders do not have sufficient resources to pay out-of-pocket for more than a year or two of assisted living or nursing home care (facilities in my area range from $70K per year upwards). This can be especially true when elders live too long and run out of money, also when a spouse must meet everyday living expenses, including a home. Most of us are likely to need assistance in paying for care if we live long enough. It's my understanding that only a small percentage of elders carries adequate long term care insurance.

Families should not assume that Medicare will cover long term care costs because it will not (except for 30 days, if deemed medically necessary, following a hospital stay of 3 days or more). Medicaid is a major source of funding for long term care, and without it young families may feel obligated to divert funds they cannot spare (perhaps jeopardizing their own retirement and/or their kids' college education) in order to meet care costs for older relatives.

The alternative? Well, ice floes are cheap for now and probably reasonably merciful. The bad news is that they're fast disappearing due to climate change, although you can't convince the Repugs of that fact. Then there are Death Panels. . .

Since rail travel is mentioned so often, how about an article about great train adventures throughout the US, Europe and beyond?

I travel out of town 2 - 3 X a year by plane. I choose small cities. I stay for 2 nights. I've been doing this for the last 7 years. I think it's therapeutic to get out of my routine, see different things and have different thoughts. I like the challenge, too, of being out of my comfort zone. Travel has changed a lot but it's still easy for me to do. I pick morning flights, I arrive at the airport early and I have my Known Traveler Number for Homeland Security. The only times I've run into long lines were at a couple of cities that had small airports like Omaha.
The only time I ran into a snafu was when my return flight home from D.C. was cancelled due to the weather which happened 6 years ago. Knock on wood! I think my biggest travel complaint has been car rental agencies. After 2 negative experiences, I started using Uber.

I think the hardest change for me, travelwise, has been driving. I can't drive more than 3 hours anymore. It's too tiring. It makes me feel sad because it narrows my travel options. There's a couple of cities I'd like to visit that are 5 hours away that are not easily accessible by bus, train or plane. If I was younger, I could make the drive.

I agree with all (or most) of the comments about flying, I hate it. But last year I flew to Vienna and spent ten days there and in Budapest. That was wonderful. As much as I hate flying it was worth it. I've road tripped across the continent and back several times and it was fun then but now the long distance driving is less appealing. But I'm going to do it one more time to see my new grandchild (due in August). If the destination is worthwhile then I guess you put up with a bunch of inconvenience. My son invited me to join him on a trip to Australia in another year and I just don't know if it will be worth it. Travelling with him is a treat and I've never seen Australia, but it sure is a very long trip...

About travel.......
ET said it best....."Home"

You described it well, Ronni- the torture of flying. All of it true. All of it a grand PITA.

And yet..

We continue to explore the world.

We pack light.

Years ago we climbed aboard a small plane in Russia that had a roof which opened up like a can of beer.

What the..

A few critters were brought onboard. By critters, I mean four legged animals. Hairy four legged animals. The hefty dude in front of me pushed his seat so far back his head was in my lap.

I looked him in the eye.

Eye of the tiger. Poker face.

One look at me and he shot his chair back up.

We enjoy road trips, train travel and guided bus trips.

And we love coming home to Montreal.

I get emotional looking down over our city from a plane, or when we cross one of the major bridges into our city.

Our trip last September was to Peru and I agree with the woman who wrote that foreign airlines are so much more comfortable, and considerate. We flew to Lima from L.A. and had a bus tour, and one flight, all over but specifically to areas where the Inca civilizations were. We loved the tour and it was very reasonable, and my daughter, age 50 went with us because she so wanted to view Machu Pichu.

I am not so happy with car trips due to the heavy traffic we encounter now in California. It's paradise and everyone wants a piece of it, of course. I, too, dislike leaving my bonsai, and our 2 cats, but have a neighbor with whom I trade watering potted plants, and cat care.

After much travel through Mexico, Central America, Canada, up to Fairbanks, and to the southwest and east coast of the U.S. in the experimental small plane my husband
built from a kit, we may still decide there are a few more places we would like to see by commercial airliner, but I find myself more of a homebody these days.

This post really spoke to me. I used to live to travel, to the extent that I could afford it. I'd go anywhere, anytime whenever the opportunity arose.

I haven't ticked every place I wanted to visit off my list, but I'm pretty much done because of the stress and hassle that travel has become. I have less patience for the packing and preliminary arrangements, which can take up to a week (having pets complicates matters). Then the cost and increasingly unpleasant experience of flying. I don't remember there being so many flight delays and cancellations in the past. I don't sleep well away from home for a variety of reasons. I'm terrified of bed bugs. Having celiac disease can make finding food that's safe to eat a challenge (along with the attendant hassle of having to pack food just in case I can't). Then it takes a couple of days to recuperate from the trip. I'm not one of the "flush" baby boomers, so worry about spending the money. It all just doesn't seem worth it the way it used to.

Your account of "the way it was" nearly brought tears to my eyes. That time for me was in the late 60s and the 70s. I remember being allowed to say goodbye to the love of my life at the departure gate instead of hours before my flight in a crowded terminal. By the 80s domestic airlines had already begun to squeeze their budgets and their passengers. Dinners---you still got a semblance of food on a flight---were too often either the red slop or the white slop served in an aluminum tray. My last flight was in about 1995 and fortunately for me, it was on an Air France non-stop flight from SFO to Orly. The accommodations were luxuriously roomy, the attendants were solicitous, and the food was delicious.

I retired, and then came 9/11 and TSA's sadistic employees enforcing brutally absurd laws designed to avert the minuscule chance of terrorist events. Of course I realize that not everyone agrees with my personal philosophy that shit happens and it doesn't matter how you die. I have had to give up all thought of flying lest I inadvertently blow a fuse and refuse to go along with the farce of subjecting old ladies (or anyone) to shoelessness, x-rays nd other tortures.

I had already begun to use trains for travel on the west coast. While it's shameful that the U.S. has never upgraded its trains or its tracks and has closed station after station, train travel is still preferable to the horrors of plane travel. My son moved to Iowa, so I have made a number of cross-country trips to visit him. It's admittedly expensive if you book a room or a roomette, but there is no other way if you want to be comfortable. It has been a couple of years, but my trips were delightful, with good meals, the chance for brief encounters with fellow travelers, the magic of sleeping on a train and looking out your personal picture window at moonlight on the snow or a mountain waterful or the spectacle of Bryce Canyon.

I committed to a plane vacation a few months ago and now I'm dreading it. Going to DC on this trip. If I make it back alive, I'll not fly again. I too am growing fond of just being home or doing short day trips or a one or two over nighter in my home state or nearby.
I wouldn't drive more than 7/8 hours a day. Plan to sightsee along the way and take my time.

"My favourite journey is looking out the window." - Edward Gorey.

We really want to travel more this year too, but not by air. Train...Oh, we love taking the train. A tiny motor home is in our future. Airports mean wheel chairs or walkers. Grrrr. So trains lead to great big windows looking out at the land.

Yes, flying is a pain these days and I loathe it. It is also one of the very worst modes of travel from an ecological point of view as the carbon emissions do more damage at high altitudes than at ground level.

That's why I only fly 'love miles' (i.e. to see my children and grandchildren in the USA once a year). Since I live in England, I am lucky enough to be able to get from London to Paris in comfort, on a train, in just two and a half hours. Or I can catch a ferry from Plymouth and sail to France or Spain in a comfy cabin with a porthole. And once I am on the mainland of Europe I can travel everywhere on fast, spacious, comfortable trains and buses.

I am luckier than my American friends and relatives. Unless you live on one of the coasts, Amtrak just doesn't have the infrastructure to support this kind of travel. Even Greyhound doesn't go to all the smaller places any more, only the cities.

Yes, the urge to withdraw and stay home is stronger now that I am over 80. And I hate crowds too. I don't even have anything left on my bucket list. I simply love to bask in the Spanish sunshine, to sip coffee in an ancient Italian piazza, swim in the Mediterranean, hike a few miles across an Alpine meadow in summer, practise speaking in other languages.

Travel is more tiring than it used to be and gets more so every year. Yet I still do it. Because it is enlivening. And the older I get, and the less time I have left, the more I savour those sensory experiences. My soul seems to need them.

I travelled to Europe/UK in the 70s and 80s and have good memories of air travel. Golly, the things I carried in my carryon (really heavy marble figurines! no one checked contents or weight).

I planned a visit from Oz to NYC pre-elections. But trumpie puts me off visiting USA - just couldn't understand how he could be elected. But, thought to myself, if I don't travel now, it may be never so I'm going. Partly because I have to get out of the routine rut, and I have to challenge myself that I can do it. But I'm really happier at home. So have decided to travel in future closer to home, with New Zealand being my favourite.

The thing that strikes me: there are people coming to my city (which for me is just plain home) in excitement, and ditto me to NYC?? sometimes I shake my head. I've got myself a large TV and happy to see the rest of USA via film.

I agree with the reader who suggested train travel as a TGB topic. Most of us seem to agree that air travel has become too exhausting and difficult as we age. Many of us never liked it. If time is not a factor, and for retirees it usually isn't, the train gets you to whatever destination you choose in plenty of time to visit or explore. The inconveniences of train travel are hardly a problem in comparison to sitting for hours on a crowded plane going nowhere. One of my best memories was the time when my train was crossing a mountain range in a snowstorm. We got stopped for awhile by something on the tracks. Who knew what? Who cared? We were cosy and well-fed and in good company and the views were stunning.

My own travel has been limited by health more than any other reason. In fact I am nearly housebound, but I find I do not need to travel, even to town, to live a rich and interesting life. I read, watch my bird feeders, sew, and see the world through the internet and TV. Enough for me.

Flying is uncomfortable and going overseas causes a bit of jetlag that is unnerving. That said, I made it to Italy for three weeks this past fall, including Florence where "The David" was beyond my expectations. I spent wonderful days in the southern part of the country. The airports and the flying were not much fun. My next and probably last trip to Europe will be to Ireland and I am beginning to plan it now for a year or so ahead. Then, the trips will be local, using buses and trains as much as possible.

The worst part of the trip was being behind a group of tourists (people my age or younger) who were slow getting gear together to get off the plane and I was terrified I would miss my flight from Germany to Washington, DC. I made it by minutes but I had to hurry. All's well that ends well and I am looking forward to Dublin, etc. Happy trails. Rose Kennelly

We have a few more places we want to see. We have always been avid travelers. We joined Global Entry to make immigration stations more bareable. I do hate the TSA stuff one has to do these days and we are considering one of the TSA pre check services, one is included with GE but we never seem to hit the airports using that one. And while we don't like the crowds, the journey is worth it to us.

As for the seats, we made the decision to fly at least business class or 1st class if we are crossing either ocean. We can do this because we are DINKs. No heirs, just some causes to leave money to, so we plan to enjoy the world as long as we can endure the flights.

I do plan to get myself noise cancelling headphones, as I can hardly stand to be on a plane with crying children anymore.

Traveling was all I wanted to do as a child because my family never did it unless it was in our car and raining because that was the only time off our father got, no paid vacations back then, and he was a road construction person. I love to travel so much, I can't image not doing it at any point. Of course I am still very healthy as I say this.

Trains are an option if it is just the airport that you don't want to deal with, our friend comes out a couple of times a year via train and loves it. You can also do cruises, including trans-ocean trips. Had friends from Australia come that way last year, they loved the experience.

Happy trails to all the continuing travelers and enjoy your staycations to those who choose to stay in place.

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