Retirement Travel and Holidays
Retirement travel is booming.
And it’s easy to see why.
It’s never been easier to enjoy a life-changing experience at home or abroad, with a plethora of travel possibilities and holiday destinations on offer.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the options for creating a memorable adventure to share with your friends and family upon your return.
But first, is retirement travel different from any other holiday?
What is retirement travel?
Although the end destination may be the same, the type of holiday and accommodation you choose in retirement travel may vary, along with your trip companions.
This has much to do with comfort.
Whereas you may have regarded a flea-infested Bangkok hostel as an exciting cultural experience in your early 20’s, many retirees prefer a more upmarket experience in later life.
As such, there’s no shortage of companies offering exclusive, handpicked getaways to cater for the more discerning older adult.
Types of travel
The most ubiquitous option and often the quickest, easiest choice.
With flight prices cheaper than ever, you can book a ticket in an instant and be on a different continent for your dinner.
If you want more extravagance, you can, of course, opt for business lounges and first-class for an extra helping of luxury.
Airport drop-offs and pick-ups are easily arranged and can be combined with hotel stays catering for every taste and budget.
Your appetite for flying might vary, however, especially if you’re not a comfortable air passenger. So let’s look at the alternatives.
Not good on planes? No problem.
Perhaps an overland adventure is more suitable. Throwing a bag in your car and going on a road trip is an enticing option for many, especially for the flexibility it provides.
With your own transport, it’s easy to get off the beaten track and see sights that are otherwise inaccessible.
All the while you can enjoy the scenery along the way.
UK holidaymakers frequently opt for trips at home, either to the Cornish beaches or Scottish Highlands.
But it’s just as easy to drive onto a ferry and embark on an adventure to the Medditarean coastline, Alpine passes or Tuscan vineyards, with quaint stays organised along the way.
Campervans and motorhomes
Especially popular retirement travel options are campervans and motorhomes, providing even more flexibility for the frequent road tripper.
Not only do you get all the aforementioned benefits, but with these options, you’re no longer bound by your accommodation at all.
Wherever you choose to stop is your hotel for the night. That could be waking up to a sunrise and early morning surf or a hike on the wild moors.
And on top of the extra flexibility comes significant cost savings. Cooking and sleeping in your campervan offers an adventure for a fraction of the cost of traditional holidays.
While you may have to sacrifice some comfort compared to a hotel, modern motorhomes are designed with all the mod cons, including soft beds and hot showers.
Foreign holidays or travelling to new places can be intimidating for some retirees, especially for those who haven’t ventured far from home or are going it alone.
In this case, booking onto an organised trip may remove much of the stress.
Bus holidays allow you to make friends with like-minded travellers while all the trip admin is pre-arranged, so you can enjoy the experience with none of the hassle.
One of the most luxurious types of travel, cruises provide an oasis of onboard leisure and experience to satisfy the most demanding holidaymaker.
Modern ships have everything you would expect in a land-based 5-star resort, from swimming pools to casinos and even ice rinks.
If you’re really adventurous, you can even take to the high seas yourself.
Perhaps you fancy picking your own schedule, setting sail at sunrise and docking in time for evening dinner and cocktails in San Tropez!
Nothing beats the romantic image of dropping anchor in a deserted cove and watching the sunset from your deck.
Obviously, possessing sufficient nautical experience is a must, although there are plenty of shorter boat stays that can be arranged with a captain and crew to manage logistics.
What’s your idea of the perfect getaway? Let’s explore!
Perhaps you’re more of a mountain goat, preferring the crisp, still air of high altitude. Hiking above the tree line can give you much-needed solitude from polite society or alternatively you can get more active on the slopes, skiing and snowboarding.
Some of us simply lounge back on the beach with a good book. Perhaps you want to intersperse the sun-worshipping with dips in the sea or trying new activities like kitesurfing and bodyboarding. After a hard day at the beach, you can recharge in the evening with freshly caught local seafood, before doing it all again tomorrow.
Perhaps you’re drawn to the bright lights and want to experience the collision of a new culture up close in jumbled backstreets, outdoor eateries and local cafes. City breaks provide an incredible snapshot of a new country with all buzz, bustle and colour of locals going about their daily lives.
If you currently live in a city, sometimes you hear the call of the wild instead. Renting a villa in the Spanish countryside, interspersed with day trips to surrounding towns and villages to stock up on local vino might be preferable. Decompressing in nature with its meditative pace, slow walks and lazy afternoons might be the perfect antidote to your usual hectic schedule.
If you’re UK-based, there’s an array of interesting destinations just across the channel, allowing you to remain relatively close to home. But perhaps you’re after something more exotic? Travelling to developing countries is perfect for those seeking to embrace new languages, cultures and customs, sampling delicious local delicacies along the way. Also, you’ll often get a lot more bang for your buck in these regions.
Holidays are the perfect time to kick back and relax, but retirement travel can also provide the opportunity to enjoy once in a lifetime, bucket list experiences that you’d never normally try at home.
- Safari – the quintessential African experience
- Shark diving – a South African staple
- Hot air balloon rides – over the Myanmar temples
- Sand dune driving – a Chilean experience
- Camel riding – a Middle Eastern must
- Bungee jumping – any beautiful gorge will do
- Skydiving – a Kiwi hair-raiser
- Diving and snorkelling – in crystal clear Philippine waters
- Skiing and snowboarding – on the Alpine slopes
- Camping – in the wilds of Scandinavia
As a retiree, your appetite for different types of accommodation may vary.
Some in retirement prefer a stint in the lap of luxury, enjoying the finest that a country has to offer. From Michelin star dining to lavish presidential suites, the options are endless if you have the resources to indulge.
For those that don’t want to worry about logistics and simply enjoy the holiday, this is a great option. From golf to all-you-can-eat buffets and swimming pools galore, some resorts have it all, right outside your door. They’re perfect places when with the Grandkids, as they’re often child-friendly.
This type of accommodation has exploded in recent years and its unsurprising. From yurts in the Mongolian wilds to handcrafted US cabins, you can discover unique and authentic stays wherever you go. Another benefit over traditional options is that you’ll often get access to a kitchen and washing machine to cut down on travel costs and improve self-sufficiency.
Local hotels, guest houses and BnB’s
A good inexpensive choice for more of a local feel. Often run by friendly owners, you can get support when you need it or the best sightseeing and dining advice in the area.
On the ground
Travelling in retirement and flying to foreign lands can be intimidating for some retirees, especially if it’s their first time abroad and they’re unsure what to expect.
If that’s the case, preparing an itinerary ahead of time makes sense. This could include the logistics of taxis or hotels and exactly what you’re planning to do and when, along with the details of local companies you’re using and a list of emergency contacts.
To get to know a new place well, it can be especially handy to get a guided tour from a knowledgable local. This is especially relevant for history buffs, who might want some classical context to accompany their sightseeing.
A host of tour companies will be available wherever you go, offering boat cruises, city walks and food tours amongst an array of other options catering for any interest.
Other travellers prefer the freedom of flying solo, to choose their own route and schedule or simply stop and people-watch from a cafe. Although by going it alone you may miss some of the more traditional stops on a tour, you compensate in added flexibility.
You can always book on tours upon arrival if you see something that looks interesting or browse websites like Meetup for interest groups to get local knowledge and meet fellow travellers.
It’s vital to be travel aware at all times, as opportunists often regard tourists as easy targets.
Obviously, the dangers vary hugely depending on where you are, so it’s sensible to consult the foreign office website to see if there are any travel warnings in place before you leave.
Basic common sense applies for most destinations. Try to not carry too many valuables on you and ensure that cameras are worn with straps. For important documents and cash, you can buy slash-proof pouches that can be worn around the waist or body.
Try to be aware of risky areas before you leave. Also, be careful of common street scams, whereby thieves seek to distract you and steal belongings.
A common concern for many retirees before going on holiday or extended travels centres around their health.
Before departing, it’s best to address any current medical issues.
That could involve a simple catch up with your GP to discuss that strange pain in your shoulder or practical considerations like asking for an extra prescription to cover your medication needs while away.
It’s worth noting that travelling anywhere can be stressful. During the trip, it’s important to listen to your body and not overexert yourself. Use sun protection, stay well hydrated and rest when required.
Over 50’s travel insurance
It’s imperative to ensure you set out with comprehensive travel insurance. This is especially important if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.
Getting taken ill abroad can be devastating, both emotionally and financially.
As such, it’s sensible to shop around and research companies that provide coverage specifically for retirees.
When holidaying abroad, it’s vital to check your visa situation before you depart, to avoid awkward airport encounters and a potentially ruined trip.
For many destinations, you can apply for visas quickly and easily online. It’s worth noting that many countries charge fees for this, so investigate ahead of time.
For more information, visit the government website well before your planned travel date.
Retirement travel and holidays at home or abroad are a dream that can often be realised in later life.
When you’ve left work behind and possess the available time and resources, there’s nothing to stop you sticking a pin in the map and heading off to explore.
While there may be logistical considerations before you depart, embarking on an expedition to see new corners of the world is an intense thrill.
Are you ready for your adventure?
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