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Wanderlust seniors see the world through local travel programs

Beverly Parker, 78, of Sterling Heights has recently visited a horse rescue farm, a historical shopping village, and several Michigan theaters. She takes an average of two trips a month, and has traveled all over the state through the Madison Heights Active Adult Center.

“I used to think I didn’t want to travel with seniors, but this is a very active group. We’ve gone to so many different places and it’s always so much fun,” Parker said.

For some people, travel conjures up negative images: Security, restrictions, huge airports with long lines, and packed planes. Although the journey may not always be as exciting as the destination, there are several local travel programs — most through local senior centers — that help older adults see the world with ease.

The travel program in Madison Heights through their Active Adult Center is a popular option because the seniors use the city-owned buses for their local trips. Other travel programs cost $25 to $50 more per person because they charter a bus to get around. They’ve visited a huge variety of Michigan destinations including theaters in Detroit, Rochester, Chelsea; numerous casinos; museums; gardens; wineries and more.

The Madison Heights-based travel program is open to anyone (not just residents of the city) age 50 and older. Jennifer Cowan, Active Adult Center supervisor, takes suggestions from seniors on places they like to visit.

In addition to local trips (they just came back from Frankenmuth) the seniors have visited several faraway destinations, including Alaska, Iceland, China and Italy. The extended travel groups are organized by outside travel companies.

“There’s something for everybody,” Cowan said. “There’s everything from the big extended trips to overnight trips that cost just a couple hundred dollars.”

Their next big trip is to Spain on Nov. 1-11, and they’re also visiting California on Feb. 22-28. For information on any trip through the Madison Heights Active Adult Center, visit their website at madison-heights.org.

The benefits of travel are numerous, according to most experts. Older adults who travel are healthier, happier, and typically have less stress. They make more memories, and have great stories to share about the places they’ve visited.

In Rochester, OPC Leisure Travel is another travel program that’s open to anyone older than 50. Their trips to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are one of the more popular, but local history tours of places such as the Detroit Public Library, the Jackson Prison, and the Yankee Air Museum attract large numbers as well. On average, they will host 35-45 people on one of their day trips.

In addition to local destinations, the OPC Leisure Travel has visited several international destinations, including Antarctica. They’re hosting a few holiday-themed trips soon, including stops at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester for a Christmas luncheon, and a holiday show at the Fox Theater. Extended trips to Philadelphia in March and Ireland and Scotland Sept. 29-Oct. 12, 2019 are also planned.

“We know that today’s seniors not only want to learn about new things, they want to experience new things,” said Linda Froeber, OPC Leisure Travel Coordinator. “It is our goal to offer something for everyone; cultural, social, intellectual and spiritual. If you are over 50 and you have a sense of adventure, we know we have a trip for you.”

For more information on OPC Leisure Travel, visit opcseniorcenter.org.