Travel Tips for Retirees

Guest Post by Gemma Collier

Traveling when you’re retired can be a completely different experience to when you were working and restricted to one or two weeks at a time. But as you get older, some aspects of travel become more daunting, so the better you can prepare for a trip, the more smoothly it should go.

Below are some points to bear in mind.

Pick your time to travel wisely

One of the plus points of being retired is that you can take advantage of travelling outside the busiest times of the year. If you avoid school holidays you can benefit from cheaper deals on flights and accommodation. You can also take advantage of not travelling in peak periods of heat. The best months to head to Europe are usually April until June or September and October.

Be insured

The older you get, the more important it is to have a decent travel insurance policy in place. Pay close attention to what’s covered in the policy and what you’d have to pay for separately. There are some good travel insurance deals for retirees – it’s just a question of going through the small print.

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What to take

As with any age traveler, the lighter you can travel the better, and if you can get all you need in a carry-on, you’ll save time at the airport. Work out your wardrobe so that you takemulti-functional items with you.

Take a spare pair of glasses; it may take more room than a prescription, but you don’t want to waste any of your time away getting new glasses made up. Similarly, take the amount of medication that you’ll need with you, and some spare supplies. You can usually replace any items when you’re away, but again, it’s easier not to have to bother.

There are always times when you’ll be at a loose end when you’re travelling. Airports are classic examples of places where you’re stuck but you’ll have nothing to do for a couple of hours. Take an e-book reader or tablet so that you can get online and find entertainment wherever you are. Sites like bgo.com/bingo are great for games on the move – bgo has a number of mobile-friendly games that can be ideal for passing the time when you’ve checked in. Other big names in the online bingo crowd such as Costa Bingo and Ladbrokes also offer mobile gaming opportunities and might be worth a look. Imagine if you won a nice bit of money? Executive suite here we come!

Flying

Consider booking assistance at the airport if you have trouble walking long distances – airports can be huge places and depending on which gate you arrive/depart from, you could be in for a long walk at the end of a long flight. Book your seat early in order to get better legroom on the flight – request an aisle seat where possible so it’s easy to move around during the flight. Regardless of age, it’s important to stay hydrated and take a walk every hour on a long flight to reduce any chance of getting a blood clot.

Accommodation

Get the lowdown on the accommodation you are considering booking. If you find stairs hard work, put in a request for a ground floor room, or make sure there’s an elevator. Also check out whether the ‘five minute walk’ to the town is up a steep hill or on flat ground. The more you can find out about the accommodation before you book, the more chance you have of getting it right.

Senior Discounts

Just as at home, there are usually concession prices for tourist attractions for pensioners in most countries. Even if they’re not advertised, it’s worth asking as there usually will be a reduced rate. This goes for buses and trains as well as museums and sites of interest.

Four Amazing Adventures to Consider in Retirement

Post by Victoria Moretti

After many years committing yourself heart and soul to your career, reaching retirement age can feel a bit strange. Suddenly you find yourself with free time on your hands, just what you have been working and saving for all these years. But before too long you may come to realize that you do not have a lot of meaningful, exciting activities to occupy yourself. You may even find you feel a bit bored at times. No one wants to be bored in retirement so what are you willing to do about it?

Retirement can be the perfect setting in which to explore all of those passions and adventures that you have always dreamed of.  Your kids have grown up and moved out of the family home, so it is your chance to do something different, thrilling and new. Now is your opportunity to rediscover everything that is amazing about the world and life in general.

If you are close to reaching the over-65-club, you are actually in for a treat. Here are just five amazing things you could do when you say adios to work for good.

Ski Europe

Although many of us love the freedom and exhilaration that comes with skiing, while tied to our job we often did not have the time. Well no longer! In retirement you have time to do what you want when you want to. If skiing is your baby, where better to utilize your downhill skills than the Alps. This internationally acclaimed getaway offers crisp, clean fresh air, magnificent views, friendly fellow skiers and powder that is simply divine. You don’t have to be an expert as slopes of varying difficulty are available. And no matter what your skill level, all become equals at the lodge waiting at the bottom of the hill. Snuggle up next to a blazing fire with a cocktail of your choice in hand and just enjoy the moment.  You are never too old to enjoy skiing, but if your muscles ache after a long day, you are sure to find a stunning spa in a nearby resort. Live a little; you deserve it!

Drive New Zealand

If driving is what you like to do, few places on the globe offer more impressive scenery than New Zealand. All of those incredible scenes scattered throughout the Lord of the Rings movies actually do exist as you can see for yourself with a little planning. New Zealand is said to have a similar climate to the UK but few other locations offer the ability to experience all four seasons in one day! What makes the two main islands so perfect for exploring is your access to everything from subtropical rainforests to snow-capped peaks. A perfect way to travel across New Zealand at your own pace pursuing a map and schedule of your own making is by motor home.  Some choose to rent but if you plan an extended trip and really want to surround yourself with all of the comforts of home along the way, you may choose to invest in your own transport such as is offered by Travelworld Motorhomes.

Cruise  Alaska

Imagine yourself comfortably seated on the deck of a luxury liner kept toasty warm by the nearby heater as you look upon some of the last remaining wilderness in North America.  Don’t be surprised by the sleek torpedo-like dolphins that race along with the ship or by the sudden booming of ice shearing off nearby glaciers. You are in the middle of nature in all her beauty. And although this is wild Alaska, don’t worry about roughing it as gourmet food and drink await you 24/7 along the way. Whatever you do, try to at least once visit the midnight feeding if at all possible where you will see more food than you can imagine presented in artistically inspired ways. Cruises cater to all ages with activities available for kids to seniors. Between the beauty, the food, and the seemingly endless on-ship entertainment, you will have no time to be bored as you cruise Alaska.

Cross the Canadian Rockies

If you prefer Terra firma over ocean adventures, you can still experience the beauty of Mother Nature in a train trip across the Canadian Rockies. Whether you choose to head East-to-West or vice versa, you will witness incredible scenery on your train vacation where you can view stunning vistas ranging from verdant river valleys to the peaks of nearby majestic mountains. The Canadian Rockies is home to five national parks with mountains that span more than 69,000 mountains across two provinces. Along the way you can plan to make stops in postcard-like setting such as Lake Louise and Jasper National Park, the largest national park in Canada. And of course you will not go hungry along the way as you are wined and dined in first class style while seated in the domed viewing cars where the great outdoors surrounds you.

 

Retirement Travel Frustration Meter

Travel in retirement ranks toward the top of many to-do lists. What better way to spend your second act than journeying to the distant locations you didn’t have time to see while working? Modern conveniences make the whole process as user-friendly as it has ever been. And the list of exotic places you are now able reach without too much difficulty grows every day.

While the lure of travel may make your heart beat faster, it is certainly not easy. There are many aspects of travel that are confusing, excessively time consuming and just plain frustrating. From the ever-changing requirements at the ticket counter to invasive security pat downs, if you are going to travel, you might want to prepare for some headaches.

My wife and I plan to hit the road on a regular basis once we are fully retired. We realize that our individual ideas of the perfect outing may differ slightly. She has traveled many parts of the world including a three-month backpack through Guatemala and a memorable cross-country motorcycle trip to Sturgis, S.D. Although she has helped to broaden my horizons with a few trips through Switzerland, Mexico and a magnificent introduction to Paris, our tolerance for inconvenience varies.

We put together a list of some of the most common components of travel likely to be encountered on the road. Then we each ranked the items on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being something we are totally fine with and 5 being something we hate it. The goal was to compare our comfort levels in different areas to better guide our selection of future trips.

Sitting in traffic. This is a big negative for me, while my wife is much more tolerant, knowing the ultimate destination waits once we survive the delay. I guess my many years of commuting in the San Francisco Bay area have given me more than my fair share of bad traffic, so I hope to avoid it when vacationing. On our travel frustration meter we are looking at probably a 5 for me and a 1-2 for my wife.

No confirmed room prior to arrival. She is much more comfortable with winging it, while I might stress about not knowing exactly where we are going to rest our heads come day’s end. Spontaneity is wonderful, but I fear discovering no room at the inn after a busy day of sightseeing. This is important to me, but not so much to my dynamic spouse.

Importance of hitting all the tourist attractions. I like the idea of visiting all the most important sites, but generally prefer to maintain a more relaxed pace with some down time at a local cafe or park along the way. For this category, my wife’s travel frustration meter rates a 1 while I am closer to a 3.

Desire for adventure. Of the two of us, my wife is the more adventurous. I am working on venturing a bit outside of my comfort zone to accommodate her wilder side. I am learning that adventurous does not necessarily have to mean dangerous. Adventure can also be a matter of degree, offering a bit of excitement and not so much risk to life and limb.

Long flights. This is not necessarily desired by either of us but is often required. Both of us are very comfortable with a flight in the five hour range. It is the longer ones she is more willing to endure than I am. We are probably both in the 3 to 4 travel frustration meter rating for this one.

Setting the pace. My wife often wants to visit as many as possible of the local attractions, often saying, “You don’t know if we will ever be here again.” I enjoy wandering the neighborhoods, stopping at cafes for an espresso or glass of wine as appropriate and in general taking it a bit more slowly. We are learning to adjust our wishes to incorporate a little of both in the average travel day.

Affordable versus luxury accommodations. We are in agreement that we prefer to save money in this area as long as the place is clean and safe and ideally allows us to walk to the nearby downtown.

Comfort level not speaking the languageI speak English pretty well and had some Spanish in school. Fortunately, my wife speaks French, German, Spanish and even Swiss German. Prior to a trip abroad, I try to become familiar with some words and phrases for the local area, but tend to defer to her. With her advantage when it comes to languages, we feel pretty comfortable in a foreign land.

Room service. It’s nice to have, but not a must. We tend to pack our own snacks rather than attack the mini bar or request what is always an expensive room service.

Local hole-in-the-wall or 5-star restaurant. There may be a time and place for each, but we both prefer finding a spot frequented by locals to truly experience the neighborhood.

Airport security hassles. We hate it, but realize it is a must these days.

Relative safety. My wife has been robbed on more than one occasion while traveling and takes precautions as a result. In some areas, crime is almost a part of the landscape. I have a more difficult time with this, but am coming to accept that the criminal element tends to flourish in most large cities no matter what continent.

Ability to accept the unexpected. Whether it’s a lost wallet, delayed flight, absent luggage or unbearable weather, how well you are able to cope with the unexpected can impact your travel experience.

Traveling with others. I am truly comfortable and at ease when traveling with my wife. We may have a stressful moment or two on the road, but she is the only person I can really be with all the time and be happy with that state of affairs. I sure hope she feels the same way about me at the end of a long day on the road.

From my blog on US News & World. Dave Bernard is the author of “I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be“. Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.