Do you need a vacation in retirement?

Taking time to get away from the daily grind while you are working is an important ingredient to maintain sanity and a healthy relationship with your partner. The stress and hectic pace of full time employment requires downtime to stay on top of you our game, recharge the old motor and reinvigorate what might otherwise become stagnant thinking. Who does not remember that wonderful feeling after a week or so away when you return to work ready for action? Well at least until you quickly find yourself overwhelmed as you are forced to return from that slower pace you so easily were able to adapt to. Vacation when you are working is important.

What about after you retire?

Supposedly retirement provides an escape from all those stresses and hassles typical to the working world. We are no longer working full time so problems associated with that state of life should be a distant memory. Do you really need to take a vacation from a retired life spent doing whatever you want? Does the old engine need to recharge when it has not been subject to those same demands that wear it down?

Having been retired for three years now I have my routine down. I keep busy pursuing activities and passions that I love. I try to avoid stressful situations and with the flexibility of running my own life am generally successful, at least to this point. But just because I don’t need to escape my day to day life does not mean I have given up vacationing.

My wife and I are in Maui at the moment. We have been here a few times including an idyllic wedding not so long ago. Maui is a special place for us. And yet I cannot help but feel that it might be better suited for a younger generation. All around us happy families with little ones are enjoying the sun and surf, splashing and playing in the numerous pools that decorate our surroundings. Squeals of joy pierce the air and we cannot help but get caught up in there young exuberance and love so obviously displayed. What fun for all! But what about those of us whose kids have grown up?

Young adults pursue a myriad of activities from parasailing to paddle boarding, from sunset cruises to snorkeling excursions. We did these same things when we were a similar age. And I am sure we could do them (most of them anyway) today if we so chose. And that is where I find myself challenged. I don’t really want to do those things. Am I taking full advantage of these wonderful islands if I am happy taking a walk here and there or sitting on our balcony reading a book? Shouldn’t I be out there doing all I can to not waste a moment of our limited time here?

If there is one thing I have learned in retirement it is I do not need to stay busy every moment to enjoy myself. Downtime is good time if that is how I choose to go. A balance of activity and relaxation is a what keeps this ship safely on course. I enjoy doing things at my own pace and choosing those things I most want to partake in. What I do is what is right for me at the moment. That is one of the joys of retired life.

Maui is truly beautiful with warm tropical breezes wafting through the palms, miles of white sandy beaches and an ocean a color of blue that takes your breath away. But it is just one place amongst a multitude. There are so many wonderful destinations we could visit, places we have never been to. And as retirees we finally have the time to get out there.

I think the trick in retirement is realizing you no longer vacation to get away from something. Instead you are blessed with the freedom to vacation just to get to something wonderful. Rather than escape you now vacation to add to your list of memorable experiences. Stay as long as you want. Do as much or as little as you choose. And if you like what you have found you can do it again. Could it get any better?

And who knows – I just might try my hand at a little paddle boarding tomorrow if I am so inclined. Aloha for now.

How to Tell When It Is Time To Retire

If you find yourself stuck in the day-to-day grind of making a living, thoughts of retirement can be sweet. Imagine leaving behind the stress of the job and pursuing whatever interests you. You could start each day only when you are good and ready to. Picture the ability to set a pace that fits your mood and state of mind for that particular day. One day you may awake feeling like going at a mellow pace while the next you are energized and ready to check things off your to-do list. When you retire, you make the rules.

The move to retirement is a big decision, and it’s difficult to know when you are truly ready to begin your second act. You obviously need to have your financial affairs in order. Unless you plan to work in some capacity, you need to have enough saved to support the lifestyle you hope for over the next 20 or more years. True financial security is difficult to achieve given the volatility of the stock market and the unpredictable nature of our health.

And even if you do have a sufficient nest egg saved, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right time to retire. It is just as important to prepare for the non-financial aspects of your future. Here are some signs it may be time to consider retirement.

Your job takes more than it gives. Some people are fortunate to find themselves engaged in a career they enjoy. Each new day is filled with promise and challenge. There’s no reason to leave simply because you reach a certain age. But other people find themselves exhausted from a long and demanding career and tired of the routine they must drag themselves through every day. When a job is just about the paycheck the days can seem without end. Add in a few health problems and every day can feel like an uphill battle. In these situations you need to weigh the costs against the benefits of staying. The additionalDSC_0429 dollars earned are not always worth it. Staying at a demanding career beyond what makes sense could adversely impact your ability to enjoy retirement.

You cannot wait to explore new horizons. While some people find it challenging to stay busy in retired life, others cannot wait to pursue a myriad of interests. Freed from the endless hours spent at the office, they are ready to do what they enjoy most. Retired days offer the opportunity to revisit old hobbies and explore new interests. To-do lists can be filled with interesting and meaningful activities. Retirement can be a time to give yourself free reign to do as you please and pursue whatever interest sparks your curiosity.

You want to explore a different career path. Some people are happiest when they are on the job. They enjoy being part of a team, making a contribution and facing new challenges. For them, staying part of the working world is how they choose to live their second act. If you want to continue working beyond retirement age, this stage in life may allow you to explore a different career that is more in line with what you care about most or find most satisfying. If you could be doing whatever job you wanted, what would it be? Retirement could be your chance to fill in the blank.

You want to live an active retirement. You will never be younger than you are today. Now is the time to take advantage of your relative youthfulness. In later years, activities like travelling can become more challenging. If you want to live an active retirement, it’s a good idea to tackle the most difficult activities while you are still able to. Take advantage of being as young as you will ever be.

From my weekly blog for US News & World

How you can afford to travel in retirement – and why you can’t afford NOT to

Getting out of Dodge and experiencing new surroundings, new people and mouth-watering local cuisine is always refreshing, and I think even more so during retirement. New places keep us excited with the unknown possibilities around each corner. Planning a new travel adventure stimulates your mind and senses as you research historically significant sites to see, get familiar with the local language (at least the key phrases), and generally put yourself into the mindset of a local. And after dedicating the majority of our earlier years to building our retirement nest egg, few retired couple’s list of retirement to-dos overlooks travel. This is what we have been waiting for!

I want to with you share my fortunate current state of affairs. At this moment, I am sitting in a hotel on Boulevard de Sebastapol in downtown Paris, looking out my fourth floor window onto the café across the street as the sun shines into my room. This is my first time to Paris, a place I have always wanted to visit but have been a little intimidated by my lack of French (as in ANY) and some scattered rumors about possible rudeness targeting non-French-speaking-Americans (I am what I am). But it has been a wonderful time. We have seen the important sites and at a perfect pace that included spending half a day at the Luxembourg Park just reading in the sun (we really lucked out with the weather), listening to the brass band playing an unexpected concert, and sipping a café. We did a lot but not too much.

Travel is not cheap or always easy. But we love to travel and plan on doing a lot of it once fully retired. How can we afford to travel at a time when money is no longer flowing in yet we finally have the time to do so?

Affording travel

If you decide that travel is important in your retired life, you may need to make a few trade-offs. Is Paris more important than the new dining room furniture? Can the kitchen remodel be delayed or scaled down a bit to finance a Polynesian escape? Is the cruise through the Panama Canal worth cutting back somewhere else? You make up your mind on the big things, but here are a few other considerations:

Getting there and staying there – I pointed out a few good places to look for more reasonable flights and hotels in my senior citizens discount blog. We find staying at a well-known, reliable hotel works out fine and with fewer surprises. The Best Western is working out just fine for our Paris trip.

Affordable lifestyle once you land – eating out every meal will kill your budget. Instead: Once you get situated, find a nearby grocery store to stock up on basics like water, bread, salami, milk, cereal, apples – whatever are your basic needs.

o Pick up a few good bottles (or more) of wine for your happy hour. We try to find a $15 bottle of a local vintage and have had some decent success. And if it turns out to be really BAD, no tears are shed disposing of it. Life is too short to drink bad wine! Of course it is still fun to try a glass of something new when dining out but you will pay the price.

o Carry a snack with you while venturing out – a granola bar or a bag of nuts does wonders to curb your appetite and spare your wallet.

o Bring your grocery-store-bought bottle of water – much cheaper than what you will find on the road.

o Dining out – early bird deals are available at some local restaurants; ordering a selection of hors d’oeuvres with a glass of wine each is a good way to sample a variety of treats and generally fills you up; one that works for us is sharing one complete dinner and one salad. For lunch, in my opinion, nothing beats a French roll with some meat and cheese.

o Happy hour(s) – every place offers these and the drink selection is across the board but much more affordable.

o Public transportation – especially in Europe, this is the way to go. Trains and buses will get you to most places on the map. The Metro in Paris is $1.20 per destination and no dealing with crazed taxi drivers or brake-challenged Vespa fanatics.

o Purchase tickets in advance for local sites of interest – generally slightly cheaper and helps avoid long lines.

Retirement is your time to finally do what you have always wanted to do, those special things that kept you going when work and life sometimes became unbearable. If travel is a part of what you want to do, what you are passionate about, then you need to do it. You may ask can I afford it? With the right trade-offs and saving and planning, you can figure out a way. If travelling is your love and keeps you excited with each new adventure posted on your calendar and gives you a reason to get out there, the better question is can you afford NOT to do it?

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.