Many hoping to retire find themselves drawn to the allure of travel. While engaged full-time at work and raising a family and doing our best just to have a little something left over, free time is at a premium. More often than not any hopes of hitting the road take a backseat in importance and priority. To get to that point in life where you are free to do as you want requires sacrifice in the here-and-now. You might love the thought of travel but the reality is sadly only a dream – for now.
Prior to retirement I envied my folks their ability to take advantage of travel specials on short notice. And it wasn’t just the big trips that triggered my lusting. As I learned from their happy tales being retired allows you to take advantage of those mid-week specials when rates are much more reasonable. I always dreamed of partaking in those “second night free” options that allow you to reserve a spot at those classy B & B’s or high end hotels at half the normal fee. Weekend rates so out of reach (sorry but I just can’t justify spending $300 or more per night to stay anywhere) are cut in half if you stay Sunday through Thursday. Now those open dates on the calendar are looking pretty promising!
When it comes to more extensive travel adventures the list of possibilities is amazing, exciting and more often than not overwhelming. It takes a seasoned expert with incredible patience and stubborn dedication to put together that perfect mix of destinations, accommodations and flight arrangements. I don’t have the skills but fortunately my wife does. She has been a world journeyer all her life plus responsible for extensive travel arrangements at numerous companies. I know when we decide to hit the road she will figure out the best way to get us there and back.
For my 50th birthday my wife single handedly planned and arranged our first trip to Switzerland (well my first trip – she was born and raised there). She flew there a week ahead of me while I finished a business trip in Ohio before joining her. The staggered travel actually allowed me to get ahead of the jet lag since I was three hours closer to Swiss-time on the East Coast.
Although our trip was eight years ago I still vividly remember and frequently relive the itinerary. With her first-hand knowledge of the best sites to see augmented with willing counsel from friends and family our ten day journey could not have been better. The small towns and snow peaked mountains and authentic cuisine were amazing, the pace was comfortable and my personal guide knew all the ins and outs to make the trip roll out smoothly. Since that first trip we have been back two more times adding previously unvisited gems to our travel memories. Who better to plan a Switzerland sojourn than those intimately familiar with its wonders?
Not everyone has the luxury of such insider information when making travel plans. Even my Swiss guide extraordinaire is not familiar with all the possible destinations we could visit during our retirement. We have been exploring various websites in search of well-designed culturally representative travel packages that hit the hot spots but not just the touristy ones (I don’t want to spend my vacation waiting in line).
The other day I discovered a travel site that won me over. STRIDETRAVEL.COM offers reviews, comparisons, and thoughtful recommendations to help choose among the diverse packages they offer. What won me over was taking a look at their packages for Switzerland. When I clicked on their Best of Switzerland package it looked like a summary of the high points from our own three trips. Engadine to Lugano to Zermatt to Berne to Interlaken to Lucerne – these are legitimately some of the best spots to visit. The folks from StrideTravel were recommending the same spots my Swiss family felt best represented the beauty of their homeland.
If it works for Switzerland their insight might prove equally invaluable for other latitudes. Not sure about your next port of call? Perhaps something along the lines of Top trips to 10 Stunning Fairytale Destinations might tickle your travel fancy (I personally like Hobbiton). It’s nice when someone else suggests your next destination using their creativity and insight.
If you are a Star Wars fan (or fanatic) how about visiting real life Star Wars locations where the movies were filmed?
We plan to travel a lot now that we are retired. I am realizing a good travel site does not just find you the cheapest deals for places you want to travel – it also plants the seed for possible adventures you might never have thought of.
Let me know if you have other favorite sites that you use to help chart your destinations. It’s a big world out there and we can use all the help we can find. Enjoy!