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Armchair travel: How to have adventures when you can’t travel any more

There are plenty of reasons an ageing population might not be up to the physical rigours of travel: declining health, mobility issues, and financial constraints can all be factors that might keep you grounded. If you’ve been a passionate traveller, getting older can be bittersweet, as the idea of embarking on grand adventures may start to feel like a distant dream. But the spirit of adventure doesn’t need to be confined to hopping on a plane and flying to far-flung destinations. 

Seniors can still infuse their lives with excitement and exploration, even when traditional travel becomes more challenging for an ageing population. From the essence of adventure to alternative ways of experiencing it, this guide is a roadmap for seniors looking to enrich their lives without venturing far from home!

Lady on deck chair

The essence of adventure

Adventure is more than the physical act of journeying to new places; it’s about embracing the unknown, stepping out of your comfort zone, and encountering the extraordinary. It’s a mindset, an attitude to life that can be cultivated irrespective of age or mobility. 

You can find adventure in the everyday – discovering new hobbies, meeting new people, or exploring uncharted aspects of yourself. The essence lies in the thrill of discovery and the joy of the unexpected.

How to get that feeling of adventure

There are lots of ways to get that feeling of adventure. Here are a few of our favourites:

  • Culinary exploration: Turn your kitchen into a culinary adventure zone. Experiment with new recipes, explore exotic ingredients, and savour the joy of creating delectable dishes. Invite friends over for themed dinners or explore local farmers’ markets for fresh, unique produce.
  • Book clubs and literary journeys: Dive into the world of literature by joining a book club. Explore different genres and authors, transporting yourself to different times and places through the magic of words. Book clubs also provide an opportunity for socialising and sharing perspectives.
  • Artistic pursuits: Unleash your creativity through painting, drawing, or crafting. Attend art classes or workshops in your community, fostering a sense of accomplishment and discovery. Art is a wonderful medium for self-expression and exploration.
  • Nature excursions: Even if extensive travel is challenging, local parks, botanical gardens, and nature reserves offer a sanctuary for exploration. Pack a picnic, take a leisurely stroll, and immerse yourself in the beauty of the outdoors.
  • Technology-enabled exploration: Embrace the digital age by using technology to explore new horizons. Virtual reality experiences, online museums, and interactive documentaries can transport you to far-off places without leaving your living room.
Senior couple in field

Armchair travel

One of the benefits of Aged Care is having the care of a team dedicated to elderly health and wellness. Some of our TriCare Aged Care Residences have been enjoying armchair travel, with a wonderful response from happy residents. Armchair travel is a concept that allows you to experience the thrill of exploration and discovery without leaving home. It involves immersing yourself in the sights, sounds, and stories of distant places in a range of ways. It might be:

  • Documentaries and travel shows: Explore the world through the lens of documentaries and travel shows. Platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime offer a vast array of content, allowing you to embark on virtual journeys to the farthest corners of the globe.
  • Virtual tours and museums: Many museums and cultural institutions now offer virtual tours, enabling you to wander through exhibits and historical sites without leaving home. This provides an opportunity to delve into the rich tapestry of global history and art.
  • Literary escapes: Read books set in different locations or centred around diverse cultures. Immerse yourself in the narratives and let your imagination transport you to exotic landscapes and vibrant cities.

Suin Kim, Lifestyle Coordinator at TriCare Mt Gravatt says armchair travel sessions have been a big hit with residents there. 

“An armchair travel session typically involves creating a virtual or simulated experience of visiting different destinations without leaving home,” says Kim. “First, the Lifestyle Team checks the monthly events such as Lunar New Year in February, which led us to choose China as our destination. 

“Then we gather multimedia content related to the chosen destination. This might include videos, documentaries, virtual tours, photos, or even music and cuisine from that region. For example, we prepared fondue when we travelled to Switzerland. The Lifestyle Team tries to provide as many cultural things as we can, to make it a rewarding experience for everyone.”

Kim says using virtual reality works very well, as does encouraging staff from different parts of the world to share their culture and experience. She says it’s important to make the sessions interactive by encouraging input. 

“We encourage participants to ask questions, share personal experiences related to the destination, or participate in activities like trying local foods or crafts.” 

Kim says the team sees the benefits of armchair travel in Mt Gravatt residents (pictured below in some of their recent armchair travel sessions).

“Armchair travel provides mental stimulation by introducing new information, visuals, and experiences, which can be beneficial for cognitive health,” Kim says.

“Also, It can enhance social interaction among participants, reducing feelings of isolation and creating a sense of community, and it can also have therapeutic effects, offering sensory stimulation and potentially triggering positive memories.”

Kim said that one recent example was former South African resident Pierre.

“Pierre recounted a deeply touching and unique memory with a bright smile and a tear in his eye during our conversation about South Africa. The emotional resonance of his story affected everyone in the room.”

Who says you have to leave town to have adventures? Adventure knows no age, and we can continue to embrace its essence by redefining our concept of exploration as we get older. Whether through local experiences, creative pursuits, or armchair travel, the thrill of discovery remains accessible for us all. 

Want to learn more about lifestyle activities at our Aged Care Residences? Check out our Lifestyle page