Retired and ready to roam: tips for fulfilling your travel dreams

A woman and man standing in front of a snowcapped mountain.

Retirement opens up a new chapter of life, offering ample time and opportunities to explore all the places you’ve perhaps spent a lifetime dreaming about. Whether it’s discovering new destinations or heading back to some favorite locations, this is the perfect time to make it happen. Here are our top 12 tips to help you make the most of traveling in your golden years.

1. It all starts with a plan and a bucket list

We’re big believers in setting goals and sticking to them and it’s no different when you’re trying to get to all those dream vacations. This is the time to be as specific as possible and ask yourself (and any travel buddies you have in mind) as many questions as possible. Some examples of questions you want to cover during your planning phase are:

  • What are my top destinations?
    • What do I want to see and do there?
    • How long do I want to stay?
  • How many times per year am I looking to travel?
  • What’s my budget per trip?
  • Who do I want to travel with?
  • How far in advance do I want to plan?
  • Is there room for spontaneous last-minute trips?

It’s good to dream big, write down all your wishes and then break it down realistically. 

2. Find trustworthy travel buddies 

Whether it’s your spouse, kids, grandkids, friends or a group of absolute strangers, making sure you’re on the same page before you head out on an adventure is key. You can mix and match here – maybe your husband wants to see the Eiffel Tower with you and your girls’ group wants to hit the beach in Mexico. You don’t have to take all your trips with the same people unless you want to.

For each excursion, you want to make sure your goals are aligned as well as your budget and travel styles. If someone only wants to stay in Airbnbs and you’re more of a hotel gal or guy, then it’s better to figure it out in advance and see if one of you is willing to switch it up, rather than find out down the line that someone’s unhappy. 

It can be a blessing and a curse to travel in groups so remember you can choose to split up into smaller groups or adventure solo for activities you can’t agree on. 

3. Rack in those discounts

Many hotel chains offer senior and AARP discounts, as do some airlines like British Airways, Delta, and United. Also, you can check for cruises with a good senior discount, especially in the off season. 

Suppose you’re using public transportation to get around. In that case, many countries offer pensioner or senior pricing, which is much less expensive than the standard adult price, so do some research before heading out. This way you can save on transport and splurge on those once-in-a-lifetime experiences or delicious meals. 

4. Plan longer trips and live like a local

Longer trips allow for deeper exploration and the ability to really get a feel for the culture, food and more. If you’re going somewhere where English isn’t the common language, maybe take a few lessons to be able to say a few phrases to the locals. Duolingo is a great app to help with that. You can also take a tour with a local host on history, markets and cooking experiences.

With more time you can visit more cities, see more sites, plan some fun adventures and have more relaxing days where you’re not cramming too much into 24 hours. Spend an entire afternoon hiking, followed by a spa day. 

A group of people around a table at a cooking class with a chef.

5. Revisit your favorite locations and find new hidden gems

If you’re naturally inclined towards routine or simply cherish a particular locale, retirement offers a golden opportunity to unearth new gems in familiar settings. Imagine, for instance, you’ve annually journeyed to Florida with your kids, reveling in Disney World, Universal Studios, and Kennedy Space Center – quintessential, family-friendly destinations. Now, envision a shift in perspective: seeking the tranquility of nature, delving into the serene beauty of places like Weeki Wachee, Ginnie Springs, and the myriad of other Florida state parks. And for those moments when indulgence calls, consider a visit to Bern’s Steak House in Tampa, where a sumptuous meal and heavenly desserts await to tantalize your sense

6. Never leave home without travel insurance 

Protecting your trip investment is always a good idea, and Faye is there 24/7 to help with everything from planning to emergency assistance, ensuring your trip stays on track. We offer domestic, international and cruise travel protection for U.S. residents. Our plans can include coverage for pre-existing conditions and trip cancellation coverage, among many other benefits. And the cherry on top is that our team is available anytime to help or answer any questions you might have via phone, email and the Faye app.

7. Invest in an RV and consider vacation rentals

If hotels aren’t necessarily your speed and you’re looking to make the most of your budget in your golden years, then RVs and vacation rentals might be more your style. Renting or purchasing an RV is an excellent way to enjoy the scenic route, save on accommodation costs and discover many off-the-beaten-path gems. Whether embarking on a journey along the Pacific Coast Highway or exploring the Amalfi Coast, taking your own wheels allows you to see and experience more.

You might also consider Airbnb, VRBO or HomeExchange which cater to senior travelers who want unique and affordable lodging options equipped with full kitchens and usually more space than hotels. These alternatives provide a ‘home away from home’ atmosphere and can be ideal for gatherings of friends or family

An RV driving in a desert landscape.

8. Make a national park must-see list

If you’re a nature enthusiast, making a goal to visit as many national parks as possible should be a highlight of your retirement. Load up your RV and embark on a journey to check off those bucket list parks. Also, seniors aged 62+ can buy a lifetime pass for just $80. If you prefer a shorter commitment, there’s an option to purchase an annual pass for just $20.

This pass grants access to over 2,000 sites and parks across the nation. Plus, you have the bonus of bringing children under 16 along at no extra cost – ideal if you have grandkids!

9. Leave the planning to a travel advisor

There’s no shame in asking for assistance. If you know your destination, the duration of your stay and your budget, but get overwhelmed with planning the rest, then enlisting a capable travel advisor might be the key to a stress-free vacation. Often, these services are complimentary or require a nominal fee, and in return, you gain access to excellent rates and exclusive perks. So, whether you’re dreaming of a luxury African safari or seeking the best deals in the Bahamas, here are some more reasons to consider booking your next journey with a travel advisor.

10. Tours for retirees & senior travel clubs

These are additional options for those of you seeking tailored travel experiences that combine comfort and adventure with zero planning on your end. One approach is to travel with Road Scholar. This organization focuses on experiential learning and offers educational trips worldwide where you can travel solo or with a group of friends or family. Overseas Adventure Travel is another way to go, specializing in small group adventures and made for more intimate travel experiences.

Alternatively, you could join a local or regional senior travel club if you enjoy organized group trips at discounted rates in a community of like-minded travelers. These clubs are often accessible through local community centers or via online searches. By participating in these tours and clubs, you can indulge in well-organized, enriching travel experiences while forging new connections and friendships

11. Voluntourism

If you want to find a way to give back during your travels, voluntourism offers a unique opportunity to achieve that bucket list goal. Experience the thrill of exploring new places combined with the gratification of making a positive impact through organizations like Earthwatch Institute, a must for those interested in environmental conservation, or Habitat for Humanity, ideal for handy helpers eager to build homes for those in need. For enthusiasts of wildlife conservation and community development, Global Vision International is an excellent choice. These organizations allow you to travel to new places and experience new cultures while contributing to meaningful causes close to your heart.

12. Make travel an integral part of your retirement plan and budget accordingly

No matter your destination, setting a realistic goal and budget will help you get there faster. Only you can decide how and where to travel during your golden era, but consulting both a retirement financial advisor and a travel advisor can turn your dreams into reality without breaking the bank.

Pro tip: with more time and fewer constraints in retirement, consider traveling during the off-season. For shorter trips, depart mid-week rather than on weekends to avoid crowds and get better deals.

Embracing the golden years

Traveling during retirement is not just about visiting new places; it’s about experiencing the world in new ways and creating lasting memories. Whether you embark on an RV adventure, engage in voluntourism or head on an extravagant dream trip curated by an advisor, the world is full of incredible opportunities waiting for you to uncover them. Don’t forget to pack Faye for that essential layer of protection. 

These locations, organizations and websites are suggestions and Faye is in no way associated with them. This post is meant to give you ideas and inspiration on how to tackle retirement travel.

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