There is nothing quite like travelling the globe, hopping from Milan to Vancouver or Sao Paulo to Sydney.
A variation of a staycation, armchair travel allows you to transport yourself anywhere in the world without leaving the comfort of your own home or retirement residence. In this post-pandemic world, the options for armchair travel are greater than ever.
What is Armchair Travel?
Armchair travel takes people to faraway places, let’s them dream of adventure, or reminisce about past trips.
In fact, you have probably been armchair travelling for years without realizing it. Afterall, people have always enjoyed:
- sharing pictures of their last vacation,
- watching documentaries about far-away cultures, or
- reading books about round the world journeys.
Today, it is possible to experience – in a virtual way – all manner of incredible, fascinating, and exhilarating places and sites, as long as you have internet access. From white sandy beaches to crisp white ski hills, from museum and gallery tours to scuba diving, the possibilities of virtual travel are truly endless – and they’re waiting for you, right now!
Why Should Older Adults Consider Armchair Traveling?
Much of the world’s best literature, music, and film has been inspired by stories of places and journeys. These forms of travel provide us with a sensory experience and the opportunity to learn about exotic lands and important past events in a meaningful way.
Similarly, armchair travel can be stimulating and rewarding for both the seasoned traveler or an older adult who prefers staying close to home.
If you live in a retirement community, joining an armchair travel group serves as an invaluable opportunity to share memories with others while making new ones together.
Armchair Travel Tips: Planning Your Virtual Trip
Whether you pick a domestic or exotic destination there is always something to learn about the world around us. Use these tips to turn your next armchair travel experience into a group trip and a culturally immersive experience. Be sure to engage all the senses!
Base your Armchair Travel session on a country, landmark, or theme.
You can binge on travel videos, visit virtual art galleries, or explore museums. We’ve included some amazing links at the end of this article.
Decorate your screening room or the whole residence.
Think travel posters, colourful tablecloths, streamers, or anything festive. Residents can even help out by making decorations in Arts & Craft groups.
Residents can collect a stamp for each journey. This is a great way to stimulate discussion and encourage seniors to come back for more armchair adventures. Try this handy template.
Travelling is more fun with friends.
Make It a Party! Send invites to get people excited. On the day of their ‘trip’, ask residents to bring pictures, clothing, artifacts, and stories of the highlighted location to share with the rest of the group.
Provide virtual tourists with tasty snacks appropriate to their trip. For instance, if watching a travel documentary about the Great Wall of China, be sure to pass out fortune cookies or mini egg rolls.
Serve a beverage.
Sample a wine from the region or a variation of the tea enjoyed in the area for travellers to enjoy while watching the video.
Put out essential oils.
Essential oils activate the sympathetic nervous system, improving concentration and memory. Just make sure they are relevant to your chosen destination.
Listen to music from the region.
Music has the power to stimulate memories and transport us to new places. For instance, the sound of a steel drum might remind you of a trip to the West Indies, while the distinctive hum of a bagpipe might whisk you off to the lush green vistas of Scotland or Ireland.
Share fun facts and encourage discussion.
Talking about travel never fails to trigger reminiscence and a sense of camaraderie. Ask participants if they have any travel stories they’d like to share and if there’s a particular place they’d like to revisit. If you are tech savvy, create a presentation showing the fascinating ways they do things differently in the country you’re exploring.
Learn a new language.
Learn a few words from the land you’re exploring. Not only does it stimulate the speech muscles, but it can also be fun! Check out these free language worksheets.
Add a physical component.
A favourite at All Seniors Care Living Centres, pedal bikes are always available during armchair travel groups. Not only does it enhance the immersive experience, pedalling to travel videos creates a social norm for incorporating physical activity into our everyday lives. Read about the benefits of senior cycling here.
Create individualized postcards.
Art inspired by travel can transport us and is a great way to make the group more experiential or therapeutic. Participants can create a collage to display their postcards or send them to friends and family. Supply residents with cardstock, a template, coloured pencils, stickers, and/or glue sticks. Let their imagination take flight!
Armchair Travel Destinations to Explore
- YouTube travelogues
- Google Arts & Culture project – gardens, museums, art galleries around the world
- Go anywhere with online, interactive video streams
- 31 national parks via Google Earth
- UNESCO World Heritage sites
- Taj Mahal
- Museums around the world
The Best of Travel: Education, Food, And Memories
On September 22nd, All Seniors Care is going to Spain!! La Tomatina with a twist, the 2022 Tomato and Wine Festival promises to be a ton of fun for everyone. During the National Event, residents will make their way through Spain during an armchair travel event like no other.
- ‘Spanish Flea’ morning stretch
- Chef’s presentation showcasing tomatoes planted and tended by residents
- Cycle through Spain with a video overview of La Tomatina
- Catapult red beanbag tomatoes at targets made using images of management staff
- Spanish wine and sangria tastings
- Live entertainment
- A screening of a box office favourite, Fried Green Tomatoes
In keeping with the All Seniors Care Living Centres’ core philosophy – Caring is Our Number One Concern – we take pride in ensuring the highest level of care is offered to our residents. Please visit the All Seniors Care Facebook page or search for a specific location on Facebook to find an individual residence’s page and see regular photos of activities, including our monthly armchair travel experiences. You can also check out our latest news for more info on National events. Explore the communities in your area and contact us to book a tour today!
Writer – Julianna McLeod
Julianna is a health and wellness expert at All Seniors Care. Her mission is to create content that empowers seniors to form sustainable solutions for lasting health and happiness. She is an experienced writer, editor, and Recreational Therapist living in Toronto.