Home for a few weeks but contemplating our next trip, I think how lucky we – hub and I – are now, able to wander far from home. When young my parents’ financial resources did not stretch to include family travel. We journeyed as far as Grandma and Grandpa’s bungalow in the mountains. When first married traveling with the kids meant camping, first with a tent, later in a pop-up camper.
The boys grew up, left the nest, and hub and I found a few extra dollars in our bank account. We began roaming further afield, sometimes combining business with vacation trips, but travel remained constrained by one or two week vacations, family and other obligations.
Finally retirement arrived and with it two wonderful gifts – the time and flexibility to indulge our wish list, nowadays labeled a bucket list, travel high on our agenda.
Here are my Top Ten Reasons Why Retirement Travel is Terrific:
1. We can travel anytime for as long as we want, although, truthfully, travel for as long as our pocketbook allows.
2. We plan visits to popular sites during the week, avoiding weekend and holiday crowds. Sometimes, however, school groups invade, creating havoc in a peaceful atmosphere. Kids are young, animated and energetic, but hog the scene!
3. Age occasionally has advantages, senior discounts one bonus. An example: we broke even on a $10 National Park Service Senior Pass on the first use, and utilized it a few times on our cross-country trip. The pass offers free or reduced admission to National Park Service parks and museums throughout the country for the life of the passholder(s).
4. Sightseeing at our own pace (when not with a tour group), we may linger in the morning over coffee, sleep late, and maybe enjoy a leisurely lunch, feeling no compulsion to scurry on to the next attraction.
5. I no longer consider it necessary to visit all of the top sights in an area, instead choosing what to see and where to go. No pressure to schedule every minute of every day.
6. We take advantage of reduced rates on air travel, lodgings, and admissions by traveling off-season, off-peak, and whenever lower prices are advertised.
7. Shopping off-peak offers bargains at end of season and off-season sales.
8. Employees are nice and helpful when not hassled by shoving crowds and aggressive customers. Employees take time to talk, answer questions and chat.
9. We are able to benefit from last minute travel deals.
10. Tour groups create more travel options for the 50+ crowd all the time, available in a wide price range. Sometimes it is nice to let others do the planning, scheduling, and organizing. Participants just show up and enjoy the experience.
The main problem faced is deciding where to go. Numerous choices create difficulty reducing the list to the next destination.
We have a budget and cannot – financially - go crazy. On the other hand we worked for decades and now plan on enjoying ourselves. Unfortunately medical or other issues will probably curtail our wanderings before completing our wish list. Meanwhile, bon voyage!