20 Great Retirement Travel Ideas: Make the Most Popular Retirement Pursuit Your Reality

According to surveys of NewRetirement users, travel after retirement is clearly the most popular and desired pursuit for this phase of life.  From day trips by car to round the world journeys, retirees have wanderlust!
retirement travel
A full 75% of users of NewRetirement’s award winning retirement planning calculator mention travel as what they want to do in retirement and AARP has reported that almost all baby boomers — 99% — want to travel!

Here are 20 tips for making travel after retirement plentiful, affordable and completely fulfilling:

1. Set Goals, Make a Bucket List, Think Through Where You Want to Go — With Whom? Why?

Thinking about what you want to do in retirement is an important part of retirement planning.  And, you are likely to be more successful if you get as detailed and specific as possible about how, when, where, why and with whom you want to travel.

  • Do you have a bucket list of destinations?
  • Are you hoping to travel once a month? Once a year?
  • Are you thinking spur of the moment jaunts to take advantage of good deals? Or, are you hoping to see specific places?
  • Who will go with you? Spouse? Friends? Grandkids? Siblings?
  • Why do you want to travel?

2. Are You and Your Spouse in Agreement?

One overlooked aspect of retirement planning is communication between spouses.  A survey by Fidelity Investments found that many married couples have an extremely difficult time discussing retirement planning and other financial planning subjects.

Spouses also sometimes have very different ideas about what they want out of retirement and how they intend to pay for it all.

Is retirement travel important to you? How does your spouse want to spend time in retirement?  Get tips for how to talk with your spouse about retirement.

3. Don’t Stick to the Tried and True Destinations

You may have a few favorite destinations that you want to revisit, but it can be a good idea to put some wildly new destinations on your retirement travel wish list.

Let’s face it, we’ve seen a lot in our lifetimes.  It can sometimes feel like nothing will surprise me anymore.

However, travel is one way to see something new and fresh.  From this perspective, travel can almost give you the opportunity to experience life as a child sees the world — marveling at things new and wondrous.  Best of all, these types of new experiences are actually scientifically proven to keep our minds more alive.

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”  — Bill Bryson

4. Did You Know that Seniors Get Discounts on Hotels and Airfare?

You probably know that most hotel chains offer discounts of 10-20% for seniors.  These are usually easy to find on the hotels’ web sites and are similar to a AAA discount.

You might not know that some airlines also offer discounts to seniors. However, it is not as common as it once was and the senior discount might not be the best deal you can find. Airlines currently offering discounts include:

  • British Airways offers discounts to AARP members.
  • Delta Airlines offers discounts on some flights.  You’ll need to call them –1-800-221-1212 — to learn about which flights and to reserve with these rates.
  • Southwest also offers senior discounts, but these fares must be booked over the phone: 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792)
  • Like Delta, United Airlines offers senior discounts on certain flights.  Call and ask at 1-800-241-6522

5. Forgo Hotels Altogether

There are more options than ever before for places to stay while experiencing new destinations:

Airbnb and VRBOAirbnb and VRBO are popular services that enable you to rent apartments, condos, houseboats, tree houses, single family homes and even compounds.

You will be amazed to see that all kinds of homes are available for rent all over the United States and remote corners of the world. Best of all, the amount you pay per night is often much less than what a hotel would cost plus you get a kitchen and more — sometimes the homes even come with cars or other transportation perks.

Home Exchange: HomeExchange is a service that matches  homeowners for a housing swap.  Thousands of people exchange houses every year and love the experiences and connections that are made.

Hostels: You might think that hostels are just for young, drunken kids.  However, hostels are making an effort to cater to older (and more sophisticated) travelers.  Some hostels even offer private rooms and great amenities (if bunk beds aren’t your style).

If you are interested, check out: Hostelworld.com.  You can see descriptions, reviews, rankings and even see availability and make reservations.

6. Have You Considered Renting Out Your Own Home?

In addition to offering you a great place to stay when you travel, Airbnb can also offer you an almost magical way to make money for travel (or whatever).  It is easy to list your home on Airbnb as a rental for travelers who will be visiting your community. Depending on where you live, you might just get flooded with interest.

I live in Marin, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.  Of the 6 homes on my block, 4 are available for rent on Airbnb.  The most successful renters are retirees who just take off whenever someone wants to rent their home.

If you have a successful rental, the income you earn can often pay for a trip and more!

7. Resources for Spur of the Moment Trips

When you are working, travel gets squeezed into available vacation slots.  For travel after retirement, you have a lot more freedom to take advantage of last minute deals and opportunities.

There are quite a few web sites and apps that can help you with these spur of the moment trips:

Hotel Tonight: Hotel Tonight is an app.  They get unsold inventory from hotels for that night and make it available to app users at a big discount.

SecretEscapes: Save up to 70% on luxury hotels and vacations.

Kayak.com/explore: Kayak has a feature on their web site that let’s you see a map of the world and the lowest airfares from your city to anywhere and everywhere.

8. Take Time to Plan — Scientists Say it is the Best Part

Last minute adventures are exciting and fun, but they might rob you of what scientists say is the best part of travel.

You might think that the best part is something like the smell wafting from a corner bakery, seeing an iconic monument or dipping your toes into the sand.  However, this study suggests that the best part of your trip happens long before you even board the airplane…

According to the researchers, planning and anticipating your trip makes you happier than actually taking it.

9. Plan Longer Trips and Save

The beauty of retirement is that you have time. You do not have a clock to punch or other specific demands on your days. As such, you can plan travel with practically unlimited time. Done right, this can save you money and be much more enjoyable.

Imagine you wanted to see Spain and Italy. When working, you either have to see very little of each place in a short period of time or take two trips. Two trips is double the airfare and if you are trying to squeeze it all into one trip, then you might be paying a premium for hotels close to the things you want to see and other conveniences that make seeing everything possible.

Everything is different in retirement. You can take two months and see two, three or more locations in one trip — dramatically reducing your airfare costs. And with time, you can rent apartments or other lower cost accommodations, cook some meals in your rented home, walk instead of taking taxis — all of which can dramatically decrease your daily spend and also enable you to really enjoy being in the location instead of packing it all in.

10. How About a Really Long Trip: Have You Considered Life on the Road?

Twenty four percent of retirees say going on an RV trip is very appealing at this stage of their life and RV sales are expected to continue to grow as boomers retire. Airstream sales grew 35% in 2014 (nearly 3x industry growth) with most buyers age 50-69.

Some people even sell their home and live on the road.

“The real home of man is not his house but the road. Life itself is a travel that has to be done by foot [or RV].” — Bruce Chitin

11. No Matter the Length of Your Road Trip — Here Are Some Great Resources

Whether you want to drive across the country for a few weeks or just visit a neighboring town for the day, road trips are one of lives greatest pleasures.

Here are a few great resources for finding interesting diversions along the way:

Swimming Holes: Listings of 1,600 swimming holes in the United States and Canada.

Roadside Attractions: Put in your route and find wacky roadside stops.

The Outdoor Project: Maps with great hikes, campgrounds, adventures and more.

Roadfood.com: Jan and Michael Stern are probably the most famous of all roadside dining aficionados.  Their site, RoadFood.com helps you find casual, affordable local restaurants, cafes, diners and more featuring regional specialties.

GasBuddy: An app that helps you find the cheapest nearby gas station.

RoadTrippers: Also an app, helps you find cool attractions along the way.

”Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” — Jack Kerouac

12. Resources for Discounted Trips

Whether you are traveling last minute or making a plan, here are some resources for finding a great deal on retirement travel:

Sign up for the newsletters on these sites, keep an eye on how prices for your desired destinations change over time so that you’ll know a good deal when you see one.

13. Think Seriously About Travel Insurance

Travel insurance — especially medical travel insurance — is probably a good idea if you are traveling abroad.  Medicare — even supplemental Medicare —  is not usually valid outside the United States.

A couple companies offering coverage for travel include:

14. Seniors Get Big Discounts on National Parks

Last month the National Park Service (NPS) ended an amazing deal — a lifetime pass for seniors to all National Parks for only $10.

The pass offers access to more than 2,000 sites and parks across the country.

If you did not snatch the deal, you can still buy a lifetime pass for $80.  And, if you don’t want to pay the fees upfront, you can spread out the cost over four years.  If you buy an annual pass for $20 for four years straight, then you can trade it in for the lifetime pass.

To be eligible for the senior pass, you must be 62 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

15. Secrets to Getting Discounts on Cruises

Have you read about the people who retire… to a cruise ship!?!!!

That might be going a bit, um… overboard…  However, cruises are immensely popular for retirement travel and there are lots of resources to help you find the right cruise at the best price:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”― Mark Twain

16. Join a Tour

There are numerous travel companies that target retirees for travel after retirement.  Two of the most popular operators include:

17. Senior Travel Clubs

Many cities have private senior adventure and travel clubs.  These are usually just what they say they are — groups of people who want to travel and meet other people who want to travel too.

Very often these clubs organize amazing trips at huge discounts because they are able to get group rates.

Do a web search for a senior travel club in your city.  However, beware of scams — never give out a credit card or money to an organization you don’t know anything about.  A legitimate club will usually invite you to attend a meeting to get to know everyone before asking for any kind of fee or deposit.

18. Have You Considered Voluntourism?

Voluntourism — volunteering while being a tourist — is an increasingly popular retirement travel option for seniors.  If you want to try to give back while exploring the world, consider some of these better known organizations:

19. Take the Grandkids

If travel is the most popular thing people want to do after retirement, spending time with grandkids is probably second.  So why not combine the two?

Travel is an excellent way to spend really quality time with grandchildren while making extraordinary memories.  To make the trip successful, be sure to involve them in the planning (you might want their parents’ input as well).

20. Make Travel a Detailed Part of Your Overall Retirement Plan

Whatever kind of travel is on your retirement wish list, if you want it to happen, you had better make sure that you set goals and budget for it as part of your overall retirement plan.

The NewRetirement retirement planning calculator allows you to:

  • Budget for big one-time expenses so you can plan for a big trip.
  • You can also vary your budget and set different spending levels for different phases of retirement.  So, if you plan on one trip a year for the next 5 years and then less travel after that, your projected budgets can reflect your actual plans.

 

Set your retirement travel plans in motion




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