On the Road Again

It is summer again and the great outdoors beckon with promises of new places, new people, and new vistas just begging to be experienced.  We seniors may not be capable of hiking Machu Picchu (although my wife is steadily dropping hints along those lines) or interested in enduring an African safari but there are options for every taste and fancy. Just Do It is our shared mantra as we retirees endeavor to live our lives to the fullest with a knowledge that the clock is ever ticking. And true to our evolving stubborn natures, we refuse to let little aches and pains of advancing years dominate our plans – influence a bit maybe but dictate NEVER!

So we begin by examining our handy atlas to identify the possibilities. Ocean or mountains? Near people or far from the writhing masses? Lots of things to see and do or just chill time? Close to home or via plane, train or bus? A familiar location with proven cuisine and service or some place not yet explored?

The options are many but these days there is something new that becomes part of the selection process.  As youthful adventurers, it was all about the location. Getting there was a forgone conclusion. Ten hours on a plane was taken for granted – no biggie. But as the years pass, it is no longer just about WHERE we choose to go but what is involved in getting there. The destination is sometimes only as beautiful as the road to get there!

Considerations of an aging road warrior

Let me know if your thought process does not go something like this as you contemplate options and plan your trip:

<>I accept that we have to fly to get there but how much time will we have to spend in the airport? If the flight is 3-4 hours and we are looking at 1.5 hours on the front end plus another 1.5 hours upon arrival by the time we find our luggage and get a rental car, is it worth it? Or with that much time spent in transit, should we go farther? How far do we need to journey to make it worth the time required to get there? I find the range is reducing all the time.

<> How big a suitcase do I need? I tend to run a bit cooler these days so even if we are going some place “warm” I will need to pack just in case the mercury drops. And I like my slippers at night so make room and of course my bathrobe that fits me so well. Short pants as well just in case. One nice shirt. Clothes to work out. Casual clothes. Casual but not too casual clothes. Hmm – I wonder if that suitcase is going to be big enough…

<>What books do I bring? Back to the packing challenge, what will I most likely be interested in reading when we arrive at our destination? I need something “mindless” for when I exercise and ride the bike; something involving nature/science as that is always intriguing; something thought provoking, a bit spiritual; something specific to our destination; an autobiography about someone famous or at least interesting; etc. I may need a second suitcase for books alone!

<> Checklist of things I cannot forget – medications, sunscreen, flashlight, bottle opener, dark glasses, reading glasses, drinking glasses, a few good wines (might not be able to find them wherever we arrive), belt, binoculars (its whale season pretty much somewhere all the time), camera, various munchie foods (pretzels, granola bars, rail mix, nuts, fruit)…anything else?

The days of spontaneity are a distant memory. If I don’t plan, I risk forgetting something and then mercy me where would I be?

Personally I look forward to my next trip where ever it may be. I know that I may travel a bit overburdened even over prepared but that works for me.

I can safely assume that upon my arrival I will fill a little plate of choice snacks, open my bottle of wine and pour it into a nice wine glass, break out my book du jour, don my slippers and bathrobe, and find a nice nook that overlooks the ocean or mountains or forest or stream or whatever. And it will be just fine.

Happy Trails!

Don't Retire Without Your iPad

Apple’s iPad has been perpetually in the news as millions of people each month add it to their electronic devices collection. The advertisements on TV and the internet show a sleek, easy-to-use, feature-rich and just plain cool device, smoothly demonstrated for our benefit. Apple as usual does it right and kudos to them for yet another evolutionary product introduction. Might this ingenious creation fit into senior life?

So here I am at 52, right in the middle of the boomers, comfortable with my desktop and laptop, not afraid of the internet and even getting caught up in the whole social media movement, not a technophile but definitely not a technophobe. Despite the glitzy ads and general frenzy, why would I want an iPad? Is there anything new it could add to the quality of my retired life? Well, it turns out there definitely is. Let me tell you about a few things to put a smile on our senior faces…

1. Your best travel friend ever – travel is a significant part of retired life whether we are talking about plane trips across the globe or mobile home journeys across the state. Senior citizens love travel, trips, being a tourist, and visiting unique destinations. An iPad can make the journey that much more enjoyable:

  • A library in your lap – have you ever set aside a book specifically for a pending trip, struggling daily to stay disciplined enough to not start reading it before you get on that eight hour flight? Unfortunately, quickly into the novel you realize that you just do not like it. And you are stuck in a plane far from any bookstore. An iPad allows you to carry a library with you, made up of free books as well as those you purchase. Before you jump on that plane, you can stock your library and have at your finger tips multiple books to dig into. Even better for our aging eyes, with a pinch of your fingers on the screen, you can zoom into the text for easier reading. If you don’t understand a word, tap it and a dictionary pops up to help you out.
  • Mind-boggling Maps – while traveling, you can enter an address and up pops a map but not just any map. With your finger, you can move the map to adjust and view the surrounding area. You can zoom in on your destination to more closely plot your route – just pinch your fingers together. You can change views from map to satellite, tap the location and even see the view from street level! The iPad “knows” where you are and by tapping where you want to go, quickly generated directions for you, including walking and public transportation options. And the nine inch screen makes seeing where you are going much easier than trying to decipher on your tiny phone or GPS. Short of having a personal guide, you are in very good hands.

2. Music and videos – your iPad allows you to store a LOT of music. You can download from iTunes and create your library of songs. Also available are movies that you can easily rent or buy. And the screen size is big enough to enjoy what you are watching or you can again zoom in! While on the road, you are not limited to what is playing on the hotel TV – sometimes in a foreign language – nor do you have to pay for movies – your theater is in your lap!

3. Photos to Go – the incredible resolution of the iPad is perfect to show off your favorite pictures. Your entire collection is easy to browse through or group into appropriate folders. To view a picture, just scroll through your collection and tap your choice. From there you can pinch and zoom in or tap the screen to see the next picture. Some shots were intended to be viewed in landscape mode – no problem. Just turn the iPad sideways and there you have it! If you want to be creative, you can even pick a slide show and quickly match it with a song from your personal library and away you go.

4. Stay connected, or Not – should you have a desire to stay connected during your wanderings, you have email and internet access via your iPad by either utilizing Wi-Fi or including 3G capabilities in your original purchase. 3G allows you to have connectivity basically wherever your phone would work. And the good thing is you can pay for 3G on a monthly basis as you need it – no annual contract. So, if you are heading to Europe for a month, you can pay the $15/mo fee for that month only – very convenient and it makes sense to pay only when you use the service. And again, the ability to zoom in to increase text size is a definitely senior friendly feature.

All in all a companion well worth including in our retirement travels and senior adventures. I find the ability to zoom in on text universally helpful when browsing websites or reading a book or article online. Make the words as big as you need to read comfortably.

The iPad is not cheap, starting at $495 with 16GB of storage (which is a LOT of storage unless you are downloading movies or streaming video). You pay a little more for the 3G capability at $629 and then monthly as you use the service. But no long term contracts are required and having connectivity no matter where you are can be helpful when you are traveling.

Do senior citizens absolutely NEED an iPod? Probably not. Would all of the friendly and diverse capabilities be NICE to have and make a travel experience that much better? I think so. Christmas is just around the corner so it is never too early to start dropping hints.

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

How to take a Memorable Vacation after you Retire

Ah, nothing better than a little vacation time. Your chance to get away from the daily grind, to journey to a new destination, explore, play, and just relax (or as my kids say, “chillax – part chill, part relax). After you retire, it is still important to get away to break up the routine. Boredom and doing the same thing can easily suck the energy and excitement out of your day. Plus there are so many places to go and things to do – you need to take advantage of it.

So you agree with your significant other that it is time for a getaway. You break out your trusty travel folder to see what looks good, you discuss it a bit, and you decide where to go.

NOTE: the travel folder is a must-have for every household. Basically a manila folder for collecting ideas on potential travel destinations. Fill the folder with pages from travel magazines or your daily newspaper, notes from TV travel shows with interesting places to visit, websites where you have discovered exotic options, and recommendations from friends. When I travel to a place that I think I would like to revisit, I enjoy wandering the area and investigating possible spots to stay upon our return. Many times have I dug into “the folder” to find a long-forgotten clip that turns out to be exactly what we are looking for now.

How to make the most of your vacation

(1)  Don’t try to do too much – we all know people who go on vacation and the minute their feet touch terra firma, their checklist of “things to do” kicks in. Horseback riding at sunrise, snorkeling at noon, tennis at 3, luau at 6, sunset cruise, then start over tomorrow. It never ends and just how relaxing is this pace? These are the same people who need a vacation AFTER they return from their vacation. Relax and enjoy along the way.

(2)  Quality over quantity – wherever you decide to vacation, there will be a few local points of interest. Find the HIGH points. Do a little research – talk with friends who have made the trip before to help you uncover the real gems. Research on the internet to narrow your options. Then pick SOME, the good ones. Take time to enjoy each at a comfortable pace to experience the full impact. You will more clearly remember and vividly relive these moments later if you focus on quality not quantity.

(3)  A little dab will do you – all that wonderful food…all the warm sunshine…all the tasty drinks. A little moderation will reward you big time and make your escape that much more enjoyable. Not recommending abstinence since these delights are an important part of why you are on vacation in the first place. But instead a taste…a bit…a sip. And thereafter a happy camper!

(4)  Don’t miss the sunsets – at the end of your day, with your loved one at your side, as activity gradually slows down, find a place to watch and  share the end of day. Inspiration in retired life can be yours. With a sunset, you never know what is in store and if there are a few scattered clouds, the results  are often  spectacular. No better way to finish the day and quietly contemplate whatever is on your mind.

(5)  Remember the point of your vacation is to  enjoy the beauty that is around you. Share the moment, appreciate the moment, relax in the moment, and smile. Life is good.
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Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.