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Traveling is a boon for boomers


    The Yafusos at Macchu Picchu.



    The Yafusos on their whitewater rafting trip in Washington state.


    The Yafusos on their travels.


    Karen Yafuso in the Galapagos Islands.

Baby boomers Blake and Karen Yafuso have hiked Machu Picchu, snorkeled in the Galapagos Islands and rafted whitewater rapids in Washington state.

That was just last year.

This year, they’re already planning trips to Paris, Rome and Capri Island.

Whether it’s to check an experience off on a bucket list, gambling or seeing a show in Las Vegas or visiting family and friends, baby boomers are prolific travelers. AARP’s 2019 Boomer Travel Survey found most boomers take four to five leisure trips a year. And for many boomers, traveling is good for their physical and mental health, according to another recent AARP Travel research survey.

That survey found that the health benefits of travel (better sleep, more energy, better mental clarity, etc.) far outweigh the drawbacks, such as jet lag and stress. Four out of five boomers reported noticing an improvement in their health or well-being while on vacation and 73 percent reported a positive impact on their health after they returned.

The Yafusos say there’s a definite afterglow when they return from a trip.

“He (Blake) is on a vacation high and talks to many about all the wonderful places we visited, people we met, the cultural differences and the food we ate,” Karen Yafuso said. “Every time we share these stories it brings us back to that place or experience and the good feelings and memories return.

Karen is retired, but Blake still works as an electrical contractor. Both agree that travel recharges them.

They generally seek out physical activity when they plan their trips.

Their Galapagos cruise included snorkeling twice a day, plus land excursions.

“We swam and snorkeled halfway around the island.” Blake said. “There’s so much sea life. We saw sharks, sea lions, penguins and lots of fish.”

On their trek to Machu Picchu, they were among four people in their group of 10 who made it to the top.

“You really need to take your time. It’s not a race. Once you get up there and look back, it’s beautiful.” Blake said.

Both admit to jet lag after those trips.

“You need time to recuperate even if you’re healthy,” said Blake. But the need to recuperate doesn’t hold them back.

“We want to take the trips that require more physical fitness now,” said Blake. “We’re aware of our physicality but we’ve always been adventurous.”

Not every boomer takes as exotic and adventurous trips as the Yafusos. But the health benefits of travel aren’t dependent on how far you travel or where you go. The survey found most people don’t plan their vacations around wellness. It’s more of a pleasant side effect and the benefits can start even before the trip begins.

Karen Yafuso said she notices an improvement in her mood while she’s planning the trip..

“It (planning) keeps the mind so active, gets it working in ways, it never did before,” she said. “I learn a heck of a lot. The anticipation and excitement is heightened when planning and researching a trip. I’ve gotta admit as stressful the planning phase is, I kinda love it.” When planning trips, “we always think this is going to be an adventure.” Karen said. “Every trip has its gem.”

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