According to Maria Gillen, director of the AARP’s travel website, “Research after research has shown that travel & vacations is the number one aspiration for those 50 and older”.

Have you been working hard your whole life just dreaming of travels to exotic places? Options are often limited by pocketbooks and/or imagination. There are many tools, books and experts that can help you plan cheap and affordable travel.  There’s also lots of help out there for fun travel and trip planning ideas, if that’s not your thing. Vacations shouldn’t remain in your dreams. After all, if not now, when?

There’s some science behind this. Medical studies say we get healthier hearts and brains, stress relief, and reduced risk of depression from vacations. Stress is a true physiological response originally meant to keep us safe and help us. Stress releases hormones like cortisol and epinephrine – which was how early man decided to “fight or flight”.  Nowadays stress and especially chronic stress can be destructive to the body.  Chronic stress is believed to accelerate biologic aging and the aging process in general. A vacation is a break from high levels of these hormones and even gives a chance to repair some of the damage.

A Cornell study shows that the anticipation of a trip leads to longer-lasting happiness. Planning the trip can do as much to boost your mood as the trip itself. Traveling promotes activity that in turn produces mood-boosting endorphins. Traveling reduces long-term stress and anxiety.

Many find inspiration while experiencing somewhere and/or something new. Vacationing with others also strengthens relationships and creates closer bonds. Women who vacation with spouses report feeling more satisfied in their marriages. Travel creates priceless memories. The majority of people place a higher value on vacation experiences over material goods acquired during their lifetime.

So change your mindset – vacations are not a luxury, but a necessity. They are part of a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle just like eating good and exercising. Be mindful of what makes you happy and incorporate that into your travels.  Statistics say having more than one vacation a year is preferred. They also say that even after returning from a vacation the elation can be sustained – sometimes for years! Move travel/vacation higher on your priority list to stay healthy and happy!