Becoming a backpacker in your golden years is becoming fairly common. Explore New Zealand or travel further afield. Make the most of your retirement and able body by travelling to all those places you have always wanted to visit. You are never too old to go backpacking and backpacking is a great way to see the world. As along as you are prepared, you will be fine.
Here are some tips to help you on your travels:
1. Plan Ahead
Know where you want to go and the climate, terrain and so on. Ask friends who may have been there before what to expect. Know where the local places to stay are. Hostel’s are not just for young people and often are a cheap alternative to motels and hotels.
2. Buy Some Supportive Footwear
Invest in some decent footwear that have good support for your feet. If you trip is going to include a lot of walking, nothing will be more valuable than a decent pair of walking shoes. When buying new shoes, trial them inside at home. Are they comfortable, do they feel supportive, could you spend the entire day walking in them? Often shoes can feel comfortable in store but after wearing them at home you can realise they are not quite the right fit.
Planning to walk the Tongariro Crossing but have not done much walking before? In the lead up to your trip, train for the walk. Go for a walk a few times a week. Slowly build up the duration of your walk. You can also slowly increase the pace of the walk and the intensity. Add in hills as your exercise ability increases. Try different types of terrain, for example: road, bush walk, beach and hills.
With the increased exercise, add in some stretching to keep your muscles flexible and well adjusted to your new exercise regime. A stretch should always feel like ‘good pain’, not pushing your flexibility too far into the ‘bad pain’ zone. Hold each stretch for 30-90 seconds and slowly increase your stretch as the muscles loosen.
5. Get Those Aches & Pains Sorted
As an osteopath, we commonly treat aches and pains related to ageing, exercise and injuries. You do not want pain ruining your holiday. Osteopaths can also guide you on your training and add in tailored advice to suit your needs and goals. Osteopathic treatment is a hands-on form of physical therapy, treating the whole body, rather than just the symptoms.
6. Invest In A Good Backpack
Both packing lightly and having a decent backpack will save your back from unnecessary aches and pains. In buying a backpack I advise you try them on in store. Make sure it isn’t too heavy, it has padded straps and sits evenly on your shoulders and back. Pack lightly and only take the things you actually need. Train with your backpack on your back. This will really help you prepare for your trip.
7. Have Rest Days
If you are training for a big walking holiday, it is important you have rest days too. Your body needs to rest and recover. As an osteopath I would recommend you train up to five times a week, allowing for rest days in between.
Words: Sarah Boughtwood Milford Osteopath, ACC Registered