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New gear for new priorities

Jeff and Jane model the dorky look.Handout

Renounce vanity. Let the fit young people hike in shorts and tank tops. We who’ve had multiple skin cancers removed have great 21st-century gear at our disposal. Enjoy the featherweight pants and shirts with UPF 50. Buy the dorky hat with brims all around – and when it’s windy, wear the silly chin strap. You’re exploring and learning, not posing for Instagram.

Pamper your feet. Life’s too short to wear uncomfortable shoes. Best of all are comfortable shoes that are waterproof, flexible enough for daily walks, and tough enough for hiking. I for one would probably be in better shape today if in the ‘70s I had not lugged a heavy backpack around Europe while wearing “negative-heel” Earth Shoes. I compensate by trying to convert everyone I meet to the waterproof walking shoes I love.


Wheel it. When I traveled to England with my three sisters, the youngest one kept piling her pretty quilted duffel atop my ugly wheeled carry-on. If, like me, you can’t seem to pack in carry-on only, at least make sure that what’s left after check-in will roll along behind you. On travel days, pacing around the airport may be the only exercise you get.

Sleep well. If at home you need a CPAP or white noise machine or some other hocus-pocus, this need will not magically vanish on another continent. Bring your stuff. Less sheepishly by the year, I carry a little camping pillow, stuffed into a pouch, on every trip. When the pillows on offer are thin as paper or hard as bricks, and the fate of my neck hangs in the balance, I can fluff up my tiny plaid friend and make any place feel like home.