One of the first things many people say they want to do when they retire is travel. Many say it but not all of them mean it, or mean travel the way others would define it. Some consider a long weekend away from home as ideal, others dream of a month long cruise or hiking in unknown forests. I know a man who gets antsy after a few days away from his familiar surroundings, missing his grandchildren or even his tomato plants. Yet, if you ask him his plans for retirement, he will always answer “I want to travel.”
In choosing the kind of traveling you want to do in your retirement, you will need to be true to yourself. If you like to be in control when you travel and move at your own pace, you should probably avoid group travel. Instead, opt for a high-end travel company to plan your trips, suggesting sights, hotels, restaurants and other things you might otherwise miss. They will even meet you at airports and arrange day tours if you want them. The key is to be honest with yourself and pick the type of travel that will deliver the goods you want.
Keep in mind, some of the trip planning can be frustrating. A man I know was so angry at the airline when he tried to use his miles for a trip, he hung up and shredded his credit card! Too often, mileage points can’t be used when you want to use them, airlines put you on hold for long periods of time, dream locations suddenly become terror targets and computer reservations disappear as soon as you think you have found what you want. You must learn to be patient with the details. And the varieties of trips are amazing. There are cruises…not just to exciting places, but some designed for the specific niche, be it singles, gays, religious groups, people who want to lose weight while cruising, lectures by well known experts or something more exotic. There are also home and hospitality exchanges if the thought of moving from hotel to hotel is daunting and you want to stay in one place for several days or weeks at a time.
Do you want to travel with your spouse, partner, friends, alone, with children? Do you want to challenge yourself physically and emotionally? Do you want to go on a safari, become an expert at something new, trace your ancestral routes? Are you looking for a peaceful retreat with meditation away from everything? Almost any kind of “travel” is possible once you are realistic about your expectations. For some people, three weeks is a long trip; for others, a year seeing the country in a motor home seems ideal. If you are in a relationship but one of you prefers golf vacations while the other favors museums and city sights, separate vacations are okay, too. And best of all, this time you don’t have to take your laptop along, check in with the office or even try to do work on the plane.
The first thing you should do is narrow down your choice of destinations and look at the ways to get there. Are you limited by where your frequent flyer miles will take you? Do you have an unlimited budget so that you can take many trips or will there be one big one and several small trips in your plan? Know your own limits and desires before you begin planning and you will save yourself a lot of time and disappointment.
Whether you want to travel alone, as a couple, or with family or friends, there are so many types of journeys you should not automatically reject a certain type of trip until you look at traveling in a new way. Consider these options:
● Trips designed for retired travelers are often longer than those for people still working and limited to two weeks vacation, so look at those advertised specifically for seniors if you want to spend more time.
● Remember. senior trips can be just as active and adventure-filled as you want, and most list how active or easy the trip is. ‘Senior’ doesn’t necessarily mean the other travelers will be slowing you down or unable to keep up with the daily distances or altitude changes.
● Vacations in warmer climates are a good way to ‘try out’ a possible move to a new place.
● If you want to travel and combine the time with volunteer work, there are organizations offering ways to use your skills and interests to benefit others. Help build homes for the homeless, teach skills in developing countries, or join educational, medical or social projects in over a dozen countries or in the US. These groups often charge a small fee, but it is usually tax deductible.