Health and Medical Care While Travelling the World. Seventy is the new fifty – except for the cost of health insurance!

Retirement to EcuadorWe are careful with food and water consumption. Unless we know for sure that the tap water is safe to drink we consume only bottled water, even for cleaning our teeth. Alison’s sister became ill in India through rinsing her toothbrush under the tap. Although we’d love to try much more street food than we do, we are careful and wary. If it is freshly cooked it will be safe, if it looks like it has been sitting there for hours maybe not so much. We never eat any raw street food. Those chunks of pineapple or mango look so good but there’s no knowing what they were washed in, or indeed if they were washed at all. All it takes is one person in the food chain from field to street stall who didn’t wash their hands for the “Delhi belly” bacteria to be passed along. We do buy fruit and vegetables and disinfect them in our hotel room or apartment before we peel them. We soak them in a sink of water with a few drops of grapefruit seed extract, a natural disinfectant available from health food stores. Soaking for about fifteen minutes will kill any bacteria on the skin. We do this even with fruits and vegetables that need to be peeled.

Both of us have a spiritual perspective on life. This includes an understanding that psychological factors can and do play a large role in the health of the body. So whenever we’re not feeling well physically the first thing we do, or sometimes it’s the second thing we do, is to explore what might be going on for us emotionally at an unconscious level that is causing dis-ease in the body. There have been many times when simply doing that has been sufficient to heal whatever needed healing.

Retirement travel to LaosWe don’t consider ageing to be any kind of impediment to travel, or to living life to the fullest. We’ve been nomadic for nearly four years now and have faced a number of medical challenges, but overall we feel much happier and healthier than we were before we began our travels. The two are related of course. For us, being healthy is as much about psychological, emotional and spiritual health as it is about physical health. And although we won’t be so cavalier as to say age has nothing to do with it, we believe that ageing is not just about getting old (and wearing out) in terms of the number of years that we’ve been alive. We’ve found that beliefs, expectations, projections, perceptions, and above all, attitude have a huge affect on how, and how much, one ages. At the same time we are reasonably careful to eat healthy food and stay fit. Taking care of the body is definitely part of it. Laughter, gratitude, and open-heartedness are probably even more important.

Our motto is this: Life’s too short to worry – about money, or health, or anything else that the mind comes up with to try to discourage us. We have no plans to stop travelling any time soon, and trust that when, if ever, that time comes we’ll receive appropriate intuitive guidance as to what we need to do next. In the meantime we continue our travels, endlessly encouraged and uplifted by the wonders, and the peoples, of the world.

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  1. Thank you Alison and Don for a well written article with lots of good advice and tips, but in particular a very inspiring and uplifting post. I love your life’s motto: “life is too short to worry”, you are spot on, there is no point of worrying in particular about things you have no control over. Your positive energy and out look in life is enlightening. I love following your blog adventures in wonderland.

  2. Thanks so much Gilda, glad you enjoyed the article, and the blog. We’ve learned much through travelling and being nomadic, especially about letting go – of stuff, of limiting ideas, and of worrying.

  3. Dear Alison and Don,

    Your blog is inspiring for my husband and me. We are about to embark on a 2-year (at least) jaunt to SE Asia. We will be 71 and 65 when we begin the trip. We’ve traveled quite a bit over the years but had to wait until we both retired to take this extended vacation.
    I agree with you that age is no barrier to travel; we will just need to be more conscious of our needs and limitations. Luckily, we are both quite healthy.
    We are still in process: preparing our house to rent, storing furniture, visiting family and friends before we leave, etc.. It’s presented many challenges so far and has been quite a learning experience.
    A huge challenge is finding health insurance and deciding if we need it. It sounds like you decided you don’t but I’m not sure I’m that brave. Since we’re US citizens, we have no coverage past 60 days with Medicare. We have Medevac insurance through United Airlines for a year for $170 for the two of us. I”m still looking at options for emergency care, which is what I’m most concerned about.
    Are you still happy with your no insurance option? Any thoughts will be welcome.
    Perhaps we’ll meet up in Luang Prabang some day!
    Best regards,
    Catherine (and Stan)

  4. Hello Alison and Don Thank you for all your valuable insight. Congratulations on your history and wonderful experiences. I am 67, in great health and will be starting a solo world journey in October or November. No timeline for a return. I am from Seattle and will start with first leg in New Zealand. I will be taking only a small back pack and a minimal budget of around $2K per month not counting travel and the higher costs associated with New Zealand.

    I’m curious about the number of older travelers you have encountered who are going light and long term. And any suggestions for resources for older travelers. BTW I don’t consider myself old and philosophically feel the same way you both do. 🙂

    Also Catherine and Stan I would be very interested in any information you have to share with regard to alternative insures ie I am also on Medicare with all the additional Parts C,D etc.

    Thank you all so much for any information you can share. Have a great week wherever it takes you!


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