Staying home. What boomer traveler likes to do that?
What do boomers do when health or life problems keep them from scratching those itchy travel feet? Actually, Alan and I have faced that issue several times when illnesses or current events caused us to postpone trips.
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9 ways boomer travelers can cope when they can’t travel
After dusting ourselves off from the disappointment, we got on with life determined to make the most of the situation. We also came up with other strategies to cope when traveling isn’t a possibility. I’m sharing them today so that you’ll have a game plan for when it happens to you.
1. Change your plans
Alan and I were very disappointed when we had to cancel a sports car excursion to Whitefish, MT with the Big Sky Region of the Porsche Clubs of America because of a temporary health issue. To take the sting out of staying at home, we found another trip to take its place. Later that year, we met members of the Inland Northwest Region for a trip to Nelson, British Columbia.
And then there was the month-long South Pacific cruise that we had to cancel due to my back surgery. Bummer.
Eventually, we cruised on an even better one. Sixty-four days on a Silversea South Pacific Cruise turned out to be one of the most memorable travel experiences of our lives.
Changing travel plans or cancelling trips or cruises comes with its own set of circumstances. Will the hotel refund your money if you’ve paid ahead?
How much will the airline ding you for cancelling the flight? Will insurance cover the cost of cancelling a cruise that’s in the 100% penalty phase?
Will the trip provider or cruise line offer a credit to be used in the future? Will they go out of business before you can use that credit?
Boomer Travel Tip
Each of those questions deserves a detailed article. Subscribe to our weekly broadcast to be the first to know when I publish them.
2. Play tourist in your hometown
But what if changing plans isn’t an option? Is your travel curtailed because of duties at home—a job, caring for elderly parents or raising grandchildren? There’s a reason baby boomers are also called the Sandwich Generation.
If budget restraints or family obligations are keeping you at home, become a tourist in your hometown. Close your eyes. Now open them with a fresh look at where you live.
What sites would you like to visit? Are there new tourist attractions that you haven’t seen yet? Or maybe there’s a museum or historic tour that’s been on your “someday” list. Now’s the time to make it happen!
If your elderly parent is mobile, visit his favorite museum. Does your mother miss her gardening days? Take her to the local botanical garden.
Experience dinner in another country by dining at local ethnic restaurants. Local festivals often have a cultural underpinning as well.
Is leaving your house out of the question?
If you’re stuck at home due to health issues or caring for a loved one, including travel in your life requires more creativity. But it can be done! Following these ideas will not only add travel back into your life, it will spark joyful memories.
Creative ways to relive your travels while staying home
Don’t let the memories from your trip go to waste. Use them as a positive reminder of the world. There are lots of fun ways to relive your travels including creating travel photo books, writing a travel memoir, watching movies that remind you of the trip or reading books with a keen sense of place.
3. Organize travel photos into books
Remember all of those photos you’ve stashed in shoe boxes, or on computer files? Raising my hand here. Now’s the time to arrange them in scrapbooks—for older trips where you printed out photos.
When it comes to digital photos, creating a photo book through an online platform is the best option and lots of fun to do. There are many online sites set up to create photo books.
My current favorite is Mixbook. It really doesn’t matter which online site you use as long as the process is easy to follow and you are happy with the results.
Tips for creating photo books or scrapbooks
- Organize photos so that they tell a story or lead a viewer through the itinerary. Choose only the best photos, using a mix of horizontal and vertical shots with both landscape and people to keep it interesting.
- Write short captions. If you expect family members to enjoy your book, it needs to be entertaining not an hour by hour plod through your last journey.
- Making a photo book could also be a fun multi-generation project with the grandchild who’s now living with you. Teach her geography and culture through the photos from your trips.
- Did you take a trip with your mom? Bring out the scrapbook to relive happy memories with her.
4. Write about your trip
Writing is my favorite way of recalling a cherished trip as evidenced in all the articles I’ve written here at My Itchy Travel Feet. Most are from my first-person experiences from a trip with a dash of information thrown in so that you can go there, too.
Do you keep trip journals? Do you have a way with words? Why not write about your favorite trip?
Your travel memory book could include a blow by blow description of your itinerary (boring) or be filled with interesting stories and observations that you collected along the way.
To get started, use your favorite word processor—Word, Pages, or even Google docs. Writing will go more quickly if you create an outline or at least have a general idea of how you want the book to flow.
Tips for writing a travel memoir ebook
- Just like my advice for photo books, if you intend for others to read it, your travel book needs to be entertaining. In this case, don’t overload the text with facts or long, flowery prose.
- This is a chance to share your observations of the world. Be truthful and add details where warranted. Most importantly, share how the trip affected you.
- To avoid writing a 1,000 page tome, include only the best memories and stories. Show the reader rather than telling.
- Using the five senses is the best way to accomplish showing versus telling: include what the place smelled like, how the sun felt on your skin, recall the noise of the penguins as your zodiac approached or describe your first taste of buttery lobster.
- Photos are great memory starters. So look through the photos from your trip as you write the story.
- Write for yourself. These are your cherished memories to record.
- Once the book is done, print it out or use an online service to create your ebook. Before spending lots of money on printing out an ebook, it’s always a good idea to ask a family member or friend to proofread the text.
- I don’t have an ebook publisher to recommend but do your homework. Conduct a search for complaints about the company before committing to them or paying any money.
5. Make a movie
This is my new favorite way to relive travel experiences. Making slideshow movies from your trips is so much fun, and even better if you have action clips to include.
Warning. You’ll look up and wonder where the last three hours went. It happens to me every time.
Ignite your creativity by creating a slideshow or movie from a mix of photos and video clips. I used Lumen5 to create the video above. I also used Animoto. Both are easy programs for creating these types of videos and they come with free versions for personal use.
Tips for creating slideshows and movies
- Write a script of short bulleted points you want to make to include as text on the photos (the video software will show you how to do this). If you don’t want any text in your video, use the script as guidance for story flow.
- Once again, you’re telling a story. Choose photos that create a progression of action. Intersperse with short video clips if you have them.
- I like to add music—both Lumen5 and Animoto offer a free music library. Music enhances the pace and sets the the tone. If you are using video clips that capture the sound of the place, mute the music in those parts of the video.
- How long should your travel video be? Long enough to tell the story in a succinct way. Remember, long videos are just as boring as long, wordy stories.
- If you are documenting a big trip, why not create videos for each experience? Think of them as chapters in a book.
6. Take a virtual tour
When Alan and I can’t travel, one of our escapes is to travel virtually through virtual tours, videos and slideshows. You can literally travel the world through your computer screen. We call it educational entertainment.
A good virtual tour will make you feel as if you are there. The virtual escape does wonders for your mental health. Since there are so many choices, I recommend that you read my article on free virtual tours for bored boomers, where I share in more detail the many virtual experiences that are available.
7. Watch a movie
Is there a film that reminds you of a favorite destination? Or perhaps you’d rather view one about a location that you’ve longed to visit?
Before our Antarctica trip, Alan and I watched March of the Penguins. What a fun introduction to what we were about to experience. Now we watch the movie to relive all those penguin experiences.
8. Read about travel
Another way to travel vicariously is with a good book, especially a book that has a strong sense of place. I’ve started a list of novels and non-fiction books that I’ve read where the destination is one of the main characters. Check out my recommendations in books that take you there. You’ll want to bookmark the page as I will be adding more books.
Would you rather read your travel adventure online? You could start with at the My Itchy Travel Feet article archive.
9. Relive travel memories in the kitchen
Remember the recipes that you’ve collected during your travels? Now’s the time to try them out.
I’ll be the first to admit that nothing can substitute for actually visiting a destination. But there are times that we don’t have a choice except to stay at home. Use these 9 ways to scratch those itchy travel feet when taking a trip isn’t possible.