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Retirement Travelers

(Couldn't see where else to put this even though it is not just related to Austria)

Hello All:
Hoping to retire soonish. For those of you living in the US and retired, I am wondering how your travel has changed from when you were working? How many trips to Europe or elsewhere do you make? What is the duration of these trips? Are they different kinds of trips now, etc.

I take long summer vacations now (say 7 weeks) and last summer I was ready to come home after say 5 weeks. But if not working I would have gone back again that year. In other words, what have you found that is an optimal long vacation for you? Currently I am thinking of making a few smaller trips rather than two long ones? But more trips means more for air fares.

Thanks for any thoughts,
Gerry

Posted by
2644 posts

I retired almost 3 years ago. Before I retired, my trips were a few days tacked onto the end of a business trip - to London, Paris, Australia, India. Occasionally I would take a weeklong trip. It was a luxury if I was occasionally able to take more than that.

Now that I'm retired, I've been taking both longer trips and more frequent trips - last year 2 international trips of about 3 weeks each. That's in addition to US travel. Last year I was on the road for about 1/3 of the year, usually staying with friends. The next couple of trips I'm planning to be even longer - closer to 4 weeks. I'm contemplating going to Sicily, staying with relatives so that I can stay for a couple of months.

And I'm starting to hit some practical limits. Like how long I can reasonably leave my house unattended - or what kind of attention it needs while I'm gone. The houseplants have already been "invited" to move outdoors, with sprinklers :-)

And frankly, how long it takes to plan these long trips. I'm starting to reminisce about the times when I just took off for a week or so to a single city/destination with minimal planning and then flew back home. I may go back to some of those!

Posted by
2644 posts

I've also found that I enjoy my long trips more when I add a couple of days in the middle in a sleepy little town, with little to do other than wake up late, (drop off some laundry,) wander aimlessly, find some great photos, enjoy long lunches with a view, read a book on a terrace with a cup of coffee or tea, enjoy a glass of wine and a long dinner, take a luxurious bath and go to sleep knowing that I have a 2nd day in the sleepy little town to wander some more.

Posted by
21064 posts

I'm spending 88 days each spring/summer in the Schengen Zone these days, more or less, and a bit of extra time in non-Schengen countries. It's a long time to be gone in one chunk. In many respects two trips of two months each would be easier, but there's the issue of the airfare and the even larger issue of the miserable overnight flight to get to Europe that leaves me less than fully functional for at least two days. I dread that flight so much that I can't quite convince myself to split the long trip in half.

In terms of avoiding exhaustion, I basically adopt a rather slow pace with a lot of 4-night stops (or longer), and I don't feel I have to get to my first sightseeing target when it opens for the day. So far I haven't found I need a vacation from my vacation; I don't travel at anything like Rick's speed.

The trip-planning is definitely a significant issue for me since I'm still happily traveling mostly to places I have not been before. It takes a great deal of time for me to research several entire countries when just about every destination is new.

Other problems are scheduling all the annual (or more frequent) medical appointments a retiree is likely to need. And don't get me started on the stress of not knowing until practically departure day whether my insurance company (Aetna) is going to come through with the quantity of prescription medications I need for the duration of the trip. Blue Cross was much, much easier to work with.

Maintenance issues around my apartment? They pretty much get ignored unless they are at risk of causing damage to my apartment or the one beneath me. There's no time for mundane stuff like that with Europe beckoning.

But the biggest deal for me is that I cannot have a cat as long as I'm traveling like this. I miss having a fuzzy creature around.

Posted by
159 posts

My first trip to Europe, while I was still working and had to maximize my vacation time was an enjoyable whirlwind of activity. Museums, castles and cathedrals, there weren’t enough hours to explore all the picturesque cobblestone streets. Now we are retired and travel slowly. If we do one touristy thing a day that’s plenty; often we just wander around, walking and observing life and nature. I much prefer the countryside or small cities to the large well known cities.

We have been fully retired about 5 years and average about 7 months a year traveling, usually 4 months in Europe in the summer and somewhere warm in the winter (right now we are in Australia for two months). Two months in the USA in spring and two months in the fall is enough time to visit people, do taxes, maybe see a dentist or optometrist. We have sold our house in the USA and most of our stuff. We just found we prefer to wander the world until our bodies tell us to stay put.

It is different when one is living traveling instead of vacationing. The planning becomes easier and the trips more enjoyable if I avoid 1 or two night stops. But I guess I’m still a restless person because 5 or 6 nights is my limit then I have to move on. There are still plenty of places I haven’t seen.

Posted by
169 posts

Thanks. Many great thoughts already. I feel now, even though I am not retired yet, that I am a lazy tourist and sometimes go days without doing a touristy thing.
The idea of living abroad for months vs vacationing there has occurred to me. I just don't know if I can be away from home for that long at one time (home as an idea rather than a place? as something to ground me? Not sure yet obviously).
I guess I will have to try it a bit more and see how it feels versus a series of say two-week trips.

Posted by
2644 posts

How are people finding it when they don't have work (something meaningful) after working for decades?

I made multiple steps towards retirement. First I gave up my highly stressful career for something less demanding. Then I quit my field altogether. I have a couple of "hobby jobs" that I can pick up when I feel like it or to top up the travel fund.

Having moved around a lot in my life, my friends (and family) are spread all over the US and the world. So my travels are both for sightseeing and to connect. In fact, while studying Italian I've met new friends (and family!) from Italy and Sicily, so my travels there have taken on a whole new meaning!

Posted by
169 posts

Thanks CW.
I deleted my post about doing something meaningful vs being retired but you must have seen it. (I thought it might detract from my original question but your answer showed in a way how one can fill the time in interesting ways.

Posted by
1549 posts

We retired almost a year ago. The adventure we embarked on had been in the planning stages for a few years. When we were working, our 2 week vacations to Europe were high speed, seeing as much as possible. But the second week we’d pick an interesting town to spend 5-7 days and do some day trips and just wander. (And daydream “how cool it would be to live in Europe”)

We decided to move to Italy and spend time planning what we call mini vacations. Our apartment we rent here is what we now call home now. Our house in California is rented on a long term lease and we have a property management company to deal with everything.

Since arriving in Verbania, Italy in August, we’ve done a lot of day trips, taken a two week vacation in France, an 8 day trip to Milan, TUrin and Lugano. Just got back yesterday from a ski trip in Switzerland, next month to Florence and Tuscany, Lucern and Berner Oberland in April, then South Africa in May.

We are on a limited budget, and plan our travel differently than when we were working and receiving paychecks, even when on vacation. Including rent, we can live here very inexpensively. We don’t go out to eat much when home as we’d rather have dining out money for our trips. We look for places to stay that are reasonably priced and within walking distance to the center. If breakfast isn’t included, a coffee and a croissant does it for breakfast. Lunch is usually a sandwhich or sandwich makings from a market. We look for reasonable priced restaurants for dinner.

For anyone living in the US, airfare is a big part of a travel budget. We don’t have that after our initial trip to Europe. When it makes sense, we might rent a car, but mostly rely on train travel, so transportation is not a huge component of our travel budget. I initially book places to stay that are refundable. As we get closer to the trip I sometimes find better places for less money, sometimes taking advantage of a non refundable rate if within a month of trip..

The key for us is we have “home” to go back to in between our trips. It took about two months before we automatically said “let’s go home” vs. “let’s go back to the room”. Big difference between the two.

If you are interested in learning more about our adventure, PM me.

Posted by
3186 posts

As a recently retired teacher, now I can travel in September instead of June. My husband is still working and now I can go on some of his business trips-last August I was in Boston and Cape Cod the week school started! We won't ever be taking long trips; unlike acraven, we will always be answering to our cats.

Posted by
2173 posts

I think about this a lot as my husband is about 5-6 years from retirement and we talk about what it will look like for us. With kids still at home and 2 dogs, my dream of travelling for months at a time is probably still a ways off. He would like a home in a warm and sunny place, while I would just like to move around seeing the world. Will just have to wait and see I guess. In the meantime, we travel as much and often as we can.

Posted by
12886 posts

When I worked in the job, my trips took place in the summer, peak season in July and August. Since retirement I still go in the summer, but earlier starting in May. Going over in the "shoulder season" doesn't appeal to me, normally still too cold in April.

It's a trade-off., I see more advantages going in the summer than in the autumn or April.

When I come home after 5 weeks, it's more often because I have to, mainly out of family considerations, certainly not because I want to or am "ready to come home after...5 weeks."...hardly.

Ideally, I wish I could prolong that original 5 week trip to another 5 weeks, making it 70 days in total (UK and Schengen to deal with those limitations), starting in mid-May to the next ten weeks.

Posted by
3491 posts

I am at the "retire soon" point of my life as well. It will not be a total halt to working for income, mainly because I am too young for Medicare, but it will leave behind the 24/7 can't be far from my phone situation I have been in for the past 30+ years. I doubt it will be all that difficult to get away from that. :-)

Luckily I have always had a job where when I was on vacation, I was on vacation with no requirements to have my work phone and computer with me. I would not have been able to handle that. Would some of the places I worked preferred I was that kind of worker? Probably, but I made it clear during the interview I was not going to do that. I was even lucky enough to be able to take a couple 3 week vacations over the past recent years. Work got along fine without me, and I'm sure most people's job will be there when they get back from a real vacation.

Does all this mean that retirement and moving to a part time job won't be a challenge for me? Of course not. The biggest challenge will be adjusting to the lower income. But part of that adjustment will be taking longer trips to wherever in the world I want to visit simply because the cost of getting there is the major component of any trip. I can stay in $50 a night hostels, I can take the $1 city bus, I can grab cheese bread and ham from the mark down counter at a Parisian grocery for a couple Euro and be happy especially if I add a €5 bottle of wine once in a while. But I do need a business class seat on a plane if it is longer than a 3 hour flight. I will be looking forward to the 6 to 8 week European vacations I will be able to take.

Posted by
3682 posts

Fifteen years ago my husband and I retired at the ages of 55 and 58 respectively. I wanted to sell everything we possibly could and travel. My husband wanted a home base in the States.

We did what he wanted, but he now actually spends about 6 months a year based in the Seattle area for his Formula Ford racing passion. I fly back and forth between there and Tucson. The major reason is our goofy dog, but beyond him, somebody has to be responsible for that homebase. He says he'll stay here till he dies. I'd prefer to sell the house and rent an apartment.

Why did we retire so early? For me it was mostly for health reasons. I did not want to spend my later years working, not knowing if I'd wake up the next morning or not. I loved my 35+ year profession as a librarian, but not all the places I practiced it, including the last one. After 27 years in the testing labs at his company, my husband had reached his limit of tolerance for the bureaucracy.

"How are people finding it when they don't have work (something meaningful) after working for decades?" I must say that this concept never even occurred to us. Our jobs did not define us. I'd spent most of my career working in a profession that I jokingly called "intellectual waitressing." I guess I'd had enough of meaningful. After his kids all hit 18, he worked to support his racing. Maybe he had, too.

I would not say my husband and I can relate much to these comments: "Lots of retired, financially flush, well to do travelers." And "... I can’t even imagine being able to retire, let alone travel longer when I have less money coming in..." Both my husband and I came from working class backgrounds. We didn't exactly grow up "flush" whatever that means. I'd say we're not flush now either.

We were both smart enough to never live up to our means, much less beyond them. We each saved, invested at a high level in our companies' 401Ks and did as many of the recommended financial planning things as we possibly could. With both our vehicles 14+ years old and having about 200,000 miles each on them, all we have to do is look at other people's newer and more expensive vehicles when they ask how we can do the things we do and they get the point.

We both believe that you can tell what's truly important to people by how they spend their money and their time. For him it's racing. For me it's travel. I can't imagine us giving up either or not having a dog as long as we are physically and financially able.

The longest trip I've ever done was 4 months in 1977-78, and I had to quit my job and sell most of my stuff to do it. The longest trip my husband and I have taken together was 2 months in 2009. That was his first trip to Europe. Even though I pay for the trips, after 2014 he opted out of travel to concentrate on racing. We didn't go in 2010. From 2011 to 2013, our trips tended to be about a month long. The 2014 one was about 6 weeks. We also didn't go in 2015.

I've traveled solo every year from 2016 to now. The longest of those trips was 6 weeks. The shortest was a little over 3 weeks. My trip this year will be about 5 weeks, including 2 back-to-back RS tours with time before, after and between them. I'd probably prefer to be gone for 6-8 weeks at a time. What keeps me from that is missing my dog and the unreasonable USPS held mail 30 day limit. Camp Bow Wow takes good care of the dog, so I wouldn't feel bad about leaving him there longer. For 5 weeks I can work around the USPS limit considering how the mail is delivered in our rural area, but any longer than that can be problematic.

Posted by
12886 posts

How true it is that a big chunk of the total trip expenses is because of air fare alone. There were years in the 21st century when paying the flight was $1400 to 1560 in the summer for a non-stop flight. Luckily the last three trips the air fare was $500 (the cheapest) to $700, non-stop.

Saving two hundred dollars by having to change planes is not really worth it. But, I will say it depends on the airport, only at Sea-Tac and LAX I'll take that option, otherwise I much prefer the scheduled 11 hr non-stop flight. If the cost is under $1000 all the better.

Traveling over deals with not only flight cost but also one's traveling style, what one is willing to put up with or not, what one regards as conveniences, luxuries or absolute necessities...all very individual.

Posted by
381 posts

I'd probably prefer to be gone for 6-8 weeks at a time. What keeps me from that is missing my dog and the unreasonable USPS held mail 30 day limit.

If I'm going to be away for more than four weeks, I hire someone trustworthy to take care of my mail. I have the mail forwarded to her, she reports to me by email what comes in and I pick it all up in shopping bags when we get home.

This is really helpful if something unexpected comes up in the mail that needs to be taken care of, like a notice for an IRS audit or a jury duty notice, as well as if something unexpected happens on the travel end and things arriving in the mail need to be overnighted to us on our travels.

Posted by
6633 posts

Pets, grandkids, elderly parents, and vacant house concerns, have kept our trips into the two week range. Longer stays sounds exciting, but the reality is that we would get bored and tired after two weeks. But we are definitely traveling more often and more spontaneously. Spending more time monitoring airfares for example. Knowing that there is a time coming soon when we wont be physically able to travel gives some impetus to getting to what we want to see while we can.

Posted by
523 posts

Our travel "style" has changed since I early retired from "corporate life" in 2016. Started with (and prior to that time) several 1.5 to 2.5 week trips that year; to our +30 day trips we are taking at this time. I expect over time that will grow to +60 days as we expand our horizons even more. How did we do it? Lived below our means, saved our money and focused in on what we want to do. We still continue to live below our means. Our focus is on our health, our family and travel. Anything else is evaluated based on those criteria.

Posted by
2913 posts

I'm different. I "retired" (what ever that means) 6 years ago. My trips still are no longer than 17 days at the most. I love to travel and I love to return home and sleep in my own bed and return to my every day life. I have too many interests that I can't enjoy generally when traveling, and I miss my immediate family. Day 16 is when the trip becomes ho-hum and I know it is time to go home.

Posted by
169 posts

I think at least one person has indicated they sold their house and now wander the world. How does that feel after a few years? Not being in that situation yet, I imagine I would miss a home base to return to. In a way you are living out of a series of suitcases.

And when you return for a few months per year to the US, do you just rent in one of those suites you see in cities or rent an apartment?

Posted by
1549 posts

Marcia,
We left California in May. Mail is delivered to a PO Box, where we have friends check every week or two. All of our bank, credit card, and finance statements are set up electronically. So we get very little mail except junk.

We have our friend use an app called Genious Scan which scans mail from an iPhone or other device with camera and sends as a PDF. We can then review, delete, and file on our computer. We left a couple signed checks and deposit slips in case. But we’ve been able to make all payments on line including IRS, cal income tax, and property tax or bill pay from our bank accounts. Have yet to send anything by mail or FedEx either direction.

We also set up financial and bank accounts in advance so we can transfer money between accounts if needed. We also use Transfer Wise to pay rent once a month from one of our US bank accounts.

Posted by
159 posts

Hey Gerry, I’m one of the people who sold our house and now wander the world. It feels great. There was some anxiety in the beginning but each year becomes easier because we know what we like and plan accordingly. It’s not for everyone but if you do some internet searching you’ll find there are a lot of people who are retired and travel continually.

I think there are stages in life. I have had a successful career. I have built a house and enjoyed raising a family. I have watched the seasons pass as I cultivated my garden. Now my wife and I live simply, without possessions to take care of. We travel for months at a time with only one carry on size bag each. Some travelers stay weeks or months in each town; we are still restless and prefer only 3-5 nights in each place. The world is too big.

I’m a planner. In the 2-3 months we are in the USA I read guide books and organize our next trip. When we leave for 3-4 months every night is reserved. Flights are booked and car rentals reserved if needed. Of course life intervenes and changes are sometimes made but it all works out.

Posted by
1549 posts

I agree with Lo’s comments. We are not flush, but my husband and I were lucky enough to have OK paying jobs, were never unemployed, lived well under our paychecks, bought used cars and never had a car payment for more than $300, and didn’t have kids.
Our living expenses in Italy, including travel, are less than staying in US and living in our California home with two cars, and with no travel.

Posted by
505 posts

Like others above, our ideal overseas vacations since retiring are: (1) typically 3 weeks (airfare is the same regardless of duration); (2) at least 3-4 nights in any given location where possible (to minimize pack/unpack as well as "settle in" to an area); (3) staying in AIRbnb or VRBO/HomeAway apartments to economize when we can; (4) and avoiding June, July, August, typically favoring May and September. Finally, planning has become a hobby and I spend an embarrassing amount of time "lurking" here on the Forum pages for our next country/countries, just picking up tips to hopefully avoid getting home and learning we'd overlooked something we wished we'd seen or done. We try not to submit a question here until we have a pretty good idea of itinerary and can make a specific inquiry. (We've seen the responses when someone asks something like "Where should we go in France?")

BTW, great question. We've enjoyed the enthusiastic replies you triggered.

Posted by
169 posts

rca, I was just going to type "great thread", even though I started it myself - grin. I agree, great ideas and thoughts shared so far.

3lovetotravel: where do you live when you return to the states for a few months? Family, rental, ...

After traveling so many years now, I have an idea about some things. For example, I like to stay in one place for a week so I am not moving too often. But a week seems the maximum I want to do. Only exception so far is Vienna where I have spent 2.5 weeks in winter; otherwise I like to spend a week at a time in mountain locations.

Still big things to decide. Sell or rent the house - I can see how that would free up a lot of money. Or keep it. Still have to decide about a 3-month trip vs a series of smaller ones. So obviously I will have to test this out when retired and observe how I feel.

Your ideas have inspired me to be open to new ideas.

Posted by
12886 posts

@ 3lovetotravel....My compliments on your determination to travel, I admire your will power to "now wander the world." That's "panache" or, to put it, in German, "Unternehmungsgeist. "

Posted by
169 posts

I just remembered now that I heard about a lady that lived on cruises - from one cruise to another!

Posted by
12886 posts

Doing a three month trip, 97 days, including London is not problem outside of the financial aspect and the Schnegen imposed constraints. If the finances for such an undertaking suffices, then emotionally, logistically, etc it's no big deal when some planning goes into it. Once all the necessary details are covered, bills, bank account, the needed amount of meds, etc, the rest is easy as an itinerary.

Traveling solo I am used to that ever since 1971, the first time. Traveling solo in retirement is still easy ...I'm fortunate in that regard. If the Mrs joins me, all the better, otherwise I go solo and so does she. Better to go solo than not go over at all.

I have no problems getting away. but blowing the money is not my style either and is unnecessarily. Would I stay in 4 star hotel? Only if it is offered at a 2 star price. Or, if for some pressing reason.

Keep the budget low to go longer and more often, especially to take advantage when it's a bargain on a flight ticket, ie one too good to pass up, such as going to London is cheaper than going to and staying in NY city.

Posted by
169 posts

I like planning and budgeting so the reason I am wondering about long, 3 - 4 month, trips for me is not money, having someone to take care of mail, etc. It really is about will I miss home as in the need to come down for a while. And I will only know this when I try it I guess.
Part of it is the need to be feeling useful I think as I have been working for so long and I don't know if I can go months without doing anything useful, whatever that is. This is a slightly different issue that my questions in post 1 as one can have this issue also in retirement even if there is no travel.
I spent about six months in Europe a few years ago - I had a project, so I had that something to do. I did find that after four months I had to stop going from place to place (usually stayed in villages in the Alps - a week in each place). So I bedded down in Vienna for about five weeks and quite liked that. It was more living than vacationing.
So maybe four months is my maximum away from home at one time. We will see.

Posted by
159 posts

We return to Florida in the USA, Gerry. Because of year around vacationers, it’s easy to rent a house or condo on a monthly basis without a year long lease. After doing that for a couple of years we have found a unique situation where we are sharing a large house with a someone who keeps our room for when we need it and rents it out Airbnb when we travel.

Many people realize that they have a bigger house than they need in retirement and downsize to a smaller house or even a maintenance free Florida condo, giving them extra cash and time. Some sell their house and travel for a few months or years before purchasing their retirement home.

The idea of “doing something” is a different issue. Many derive their sense of identity and self worth from their work and after a short retirement need to get a new job or at least find a fulfilling volunteer position. My friends used to tell me I should write a travel book or sell travel photos or start a blog. But I don’t feel useless. It is enough to experience life and interact with people in a meaningful way.

Posted by
1549 posts

Gerry,
You hit the nail in the head. If you are planning a 4 month trip, pick a place or two along the way to stay in apartment/house for a couple weeks, where it’s more like living than vacationing. Where you can shop at local markets for food to cook at “home”, unpack and live out of a closet or dresser instead if a suitcase. Decide what if anything you want to do without planning ahead. Go to the same neighborhood cafe, where after a week they recognize you.

One reason I started our blog was to give me something to do. It’s also a great way to share our experience with friends and family as well as inspire others. We also spend time daily using an app to improve our Italian.

We have found that what would be a mundane errand in the US is a challenge and time consuming in a foreign country. Keeps life interesting. I.e. - finding and going to the vet, learning public transportation, finding ingredients to make Christmas cookies, searching for a shower rod (took six months to find one)

Posted by
847 posts

One thing I haven't seen mentioned very much in the very interesting replies so far is pets. My original plan (years ago when I started thinking about it) was to be gone at least the 90 days - and maybe do that twice a year. I guess I was thinking I'd take the dog. Well now I see that it's pretty hard to do that, plus the fact that we actually have two dogs plus two cats. I can see downsizing the brood eventually but don't ever see myself not having at least one pet. So what do people who travel for a couple months or more at a time do. Not have pets? Have long term pet/house sitters? Take the pet? More but shorter trips? Travel alone (or with someone else) part of the time while husband stays home, then he gets to go? I know life is about choices but travel and pets are both very important to me.

Posted by
3789 posts

my 'practical' solution for long term retirement travel is to plan to fit it in when I downsize....which most likely will fall about the time of retirement. I still live in our family home with large garden in the 'burbs - which is rapidly feeling like a burden. My pipe dream is to retire, give up the (then) 16 year old car, store my possessions and hit the road. Buy that around the world airline ticket, head to Asia (where I haven't been) maybe do some volunteer work along the way. For now, I gave up indoor plants years ago, have no pets, and a long winter with months of garden needing no attention. Snow removal service, and a daughter in town who checks to ensure no floods or inside problems thus keeping home insurance valid.
The part of long term travel, however, that gives me the heebie jeebies is the thought I wouldn't have access to creative hobbies. I work in textiles and even on a one week trip have to have some sort of handwork to do to feel grounded. But textile hobbies take up luggage space making travel more cumbersome. I think, however, that I can trade a needle and scissors for a pencil or paintbrush - take up online sketching classes, or even local classes. The good thing about visual arts is that language is less required. Draw or paint flowers instead of gardening in the dirt. Sketch future quilts for 'some day'. Take a few knitting needles, but buy wool locally and when a project is finished, leave it behind for someone else. I think I can give up the space of a top or two for travel art supplies, but it is more challenging to feed the creative spirit without supplies at hand.

Posted by
2644 posts

I know life is about choices but travel and pets are both very important to me.

I feel the same way! When I'm home, my dog and I are local travel buddies. We go for interesting little trips, staying in pet-friendly hotels. And she's very patient while I'm planning my trips to Europe!

For short (1 to 2 or sometimes 3 week) trips without her, I have a local pet sitter. She stays with them and her little "boyfriend." She goes nuts with happiness when we arrive at their house!

I'm fortunate that my parents love her and will take her when I go to Europe for 3-4 weeks. They live in Denver, I live near San Francisco. So I fly her with me to Denver (Southwest, in-cabin) and fly to Europe from there. I factor it into the cost of my vacation. And I often find tickets that are cheaper from Denver than SF anyway, so the cost isn't that different.

So when I plan my trips, I check fares from both cities and decide where to fly from and who she'll stay with. I dog-sit when I'm home to help offset the cost of her airline ticket or the dog sitter.

Posted by
21064 posts

I waited to start taking really long trips until both my cats had died. While I was working and they were healthy I took shorter trips and used a pet-sitter. When they got older I used a veterinary technician as my sitter. She didn't charge any more than the professional cat-sitting service and was an expert at administering fluids to the cat with kidney disease.

I really miss having cats, but given that my preference is for very long trips and I'm not a go-to-Europe-and-stay-in-one-place sort of traveler, I don't have a good solution for taking care of cats when I'm out of town. Some folks are lucky enough to have family members who will temporarily adopt their cats or dogs.

I made things tougher for myself by not thinking far enough ahead when I got my last two cats. That happened about 11 years before I was planning to retire, and I chose two kittens. Not a brilliant decision. There are always plenty of adult cats that need new homes, and a couple of 7-year-olds would have been a better idea for an inveterate traveler like me.

Posted by
1549 posts

We planned our adventure to include our 85 pound Chocolate lab. Europe is very dog friendly and we take him with us everplace. We could not imagine life without our dog.

Posted by
2644 posts

Hi Karen, your adventures living in Italy sound fabulous!

I've read a few of your blog entries - including those about the pre trip vet necessities. Could you say more about the everyday dog friendly aspects of Europe? I've certainly noticed dogs in restaurants.
I could never leave my dog behind to live in Italy but would love to know more about how realistic it would be to take her! If those are on your blog too... and I just haven't read those entries, I'll go have another look!

Posted by
12 posts

Hi there,
My husband and I both in our 70's met in Europe at a train station in 1963 and we have been traveling ever since. We have done 18 cross country trips and visited all 50 states, since retirement. We have done 9 cruises and are about to do our first River Cruise. We are middle income, and my husband does work for Colonial Williamsburg part time (they let him choose when he's available) as he loves history. His job helps us pay for our travel which is our passion. We have done a few trips to Europe since, taking one of our cruises out of Venice, traveling by way of Munich and Fussen Germany, Bolzano, then onto Venice. After the cruise we headed to Verona for a few days. We made a trip to Italy doing Rome, then the wine area, Sienna, and the Tuscany area, then returning the car to Florence flying home. That trip was about 2 1/2 weeks. We did almost 4 weeks traveling to France, doing Paris once again, picking up a car in Caen, doing the Normandy area, then heading to the wine area and St Emillion then Bordeaux, returning the care at the Bordeaux train station, taking the train to San Sebastian, Spain (to avoid a huge car charge as if you return to same country no additional charge). From San Sebastian we rented a car (Bilbo) and drove down to Portugal to Sintra and spent almost a week in the Algarve region, plus Lisbon We returned the car in Seville, Spain, again due to drop off charges, and took the train to Barcelona (one of my favorite places) spending 5 days there. We were taking the trans-Atlantic cruise across from Barcelona to Ft Lauderdale, I think it was 12 or 13 days, but the trans cruises are very inexpensive. We enjoyed the cruise as it gave us time to relax and meet others from all over the world, and contrary to opinion there is lots to do on a cruise if you want to, it also stopped in Malaga, Spain and one other port. We have also done the Panama Canal and other short cruises with our family. I do all the planning checking on schedules, making our own reservations, checking for small nice hotels, planning our expenses, checking out websites. My husband takes care of planning things we might want to see, museums, etc. We rent books from the library on places to visit, we save our money before hand, and do charge a lot as it's easier but have that in our planning. We were gone a total of about 6 weeks on this trip and I think it cost us overall about $4000 including the cruise and the car rentals (AutoEurope) plus we buy insurance particularly to cover transportation if any medical evacuation is needed, that's an important thing to check on. Hope this isn't too long. Any questions I will answer.

Posted by
4637 posts

When I worked I used to go to Europe at least once a year usually for four weeks since 1994. Now when I retired (2011) I go twice a year for 5 to 6 weeks. I have a certain advantage: I have relatives and friends in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, England so I save some money for hotels. I saw practically all countries of Europe (Norway, Sweden, Finland still waiting) and many other countries of all continents with Africa and Antarctica still waiting. (Wait a moment - Antarctica does not have any countries, so in that case only Africa is still waiting).

Posted by
69 posts

Great posts. We are about to retire and are considering renting an apartment in Europe, in a central location, as a staging base to explore more of Europe on a more leisurely and extended schedule. Anyone have any suggestions for a website to answer the basic questions, such as: how does one get medical care (other than an emergency); get prescriptions filled on Medicare or private U.S. health care insurance; know that you are dealing with a legitimate rental agency; do you need rental insurance in Europe; large city or village; and, most importantly, the best locations and/or locations to avoid?

Paris would be great; but, it seems an awful expensive city in which to live especially in the central area. Spain would seem great too; but, it is not necessarily central. Villages, or smaller towns, may prove problematic for health care infrastructure and language barriers.

Any suggestions or experiences would be greatly appreciated. Oh, and we can thank Rick Steves for giving to us the European travel bug. We have been on two "best of" tours with him and both were fantastic (except when I tried the Octopus in Spain!!!!)

Posted by
21064 posts

Staying in one place isn't really consistent with seeing a great deal of Europe. A major city like Paris has a lot to offer on its own (multiple months' worth), and there must be at least a few dozen practical day-trips. But you'd still be limited in the ground you could cover without paying for additional lodgings. The TGV can get you to some distant places in about 2 hours, but those couldn't be spur-of-the-moment trips if you wanted affordable rail tickets, and why would someone want to go to Strasbourg or Bordeaux for just one day, anyway?

It's unfortunate that having a lease seems to be a requirement for obtaining a long-stay visa in a Schengen country. With so many places I haven't yet seen, I am not interested in staying in one city for 6 months.

Posted by
902 posts

I have been tired since dec 2014 and husband march 2015. Guess I have always had the love of travel due to my dad's parents. They took my sister and I on summer vacations every year. US mainly plus Canada and Mexico. They were stationed overseas In the Hague in the 60's. He was a geologist for Shell oil. They paid for our family to come the summer I turned four for the entire summer in 1962. Took my senior trip in High school to England. After getting married and kids, we really did not have the money to travel except baseball games with the kids. We are huge St Louis Cardinal fans. After quitting corporate world to stay home with kids and then went to work for my local school district as support staff. My sister and I made 4 trips to Europe. Husband stayed home. His vacation time was golfing. My sister and I took our first RS tour in august 2014 to Ireland in August. Evidently, my return date back to school was bumped up due to new computer system being installed. I informed my principal that I would not be back in time. Her reply was "that is why we don't take vacations early or late during our summer break". Needless to say, I was pretty turned off from her remark and was considering this school year as my last, but I only lasted the 1st semester and gave notice of my retirement. I also work part-time for the past 15+ years at my local cross stitch shop. This supplements my travel budget. 2nd reason of retiring at an early age was my work was sponsoring a river boat cruise down the Danube for Christmas markets. in December 2015. I new I could not go on that trip if I was still working. Now I go to Europe with my husband and will be going on our 6th and 7th RS trip next month. We tend to want to go for about 3 weeks to 3 1/2 weeks in Europe. Like others have said.... I dread the overnight flight and the cost of flying, so I want to go for a longer stay and enjoy it. We do baseball stadium games in US. Trying to hit all the major league baseball stadium to watch games. We also don't have anymore pets, so it is pretty easy to take off and go now. We miss our furry cats tho!. Maybe when I have to go to the assistance living center, I will get a cat. LOL.

Posted by
1804 posts

I am enjoying this thread. Like many others, my husband and I didn’t travel much while the kids were growing up - but we began sending them on trips with our local chorus when they were old enough. However we lived in Japan for 8 years (two oldest were born there), so we did some things along the way as we visited family during those years.

We began traveling for about 10-14 days at a time in 2012 and made several trips. I was never ready to come home and my husband was always ready to be back with his recliner. :) I am now looking at retirement in a year or two and plan my first extended trip of 5 weeks next summer, following a work trip of 10 days. I have wondered if I will get tired of being gone when it is that long, but I suspect not. If this works out, I already have an outline of my next several 5-6 week trips and I can see how easy it would be to add time. I am so excited to not feel rushed. Also, although I will be traveling solo, I suspect that I will have friends (or kids) who would like to join me for a portion of the trip.

This is something I am really looking forward to. I do have a daughter that the cat can stay with. :)

Posted by
169 posts

Insurance:

I notice Medicare Supplemental Plans (G IIRC) will only cover health insurance in the first 60 days if I am reading that right. Is that right and what are people doing to get around this?
Thanks.

Posted by
613 posts

Retired at 54, now 76 with 54 vacations to EU. changes in travel: now always go off season. Not only cheaper, but less crowds. Replaced driving with river/ocean cruises (best) & bus tours. Prefer trips of about two weeks.

Biggest change: only fly business class. It's worth it for old bodies.

Posted by
613 posts

We grew up in the Midwest. Mostly lived on the East Coast before retiring to the Rock Mtns. Did lots of EU trips from the East Coast, but after retirement (1997), spent the next 10 years seeing the West (17 National Parks within a one day drive of our house). We live in a vacation Our house is at 6,000 ft above sea level, looking across a mountain valley at 12,000 ft high mtn., The most frequent scenery view NBC showed during the Utah Olympics was the view from our front windows.

There are places like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and, above all Zion National Park where you can't spend too much time.

Posted by
5157 posts

Not quite yet retired, but I am finding that responsibilities to my elderly father and growing grandchildren are likely to mean long trips will be not be possible for a bit. I am ok with that and will continue to travel when I can.

Posted by
776 posts

I retired 30 years ago. During my teaching life, I made good use of my vacation time and got in all the "heavy, don't drink the water" travel then. When I retired, one goal was to go to school in Europe and there, I found I really liked being in a different place so 25 years ago, I bought an apartment in Paris. From Paris, travel to N. Africa, the rest of Europe and of course beautiful France was easy so I spent a lot of time on trains. Then the knees died, but at 85, I'm still in Paris. This city is much easier to live in than similar in the US. I kept my Florida condo and divide my time between both places according to Schengen rules. My son and friends are used to the idea that I'll probably just keel over in the street here. I don't worry about medical anymore. Care is good and cheap and my estate can settle the bill. I'm glad I did all the hard travel when I could still get around. Now I really live here. The big effort today was choosing my weekend pastries at the corner and hauling home specials from my Picard at the end of the block. Last week, in celebration of the blooming cherry trees, I bought all pink pastry. Later, I'll go to the park and sit in the sun with all the other aged. I haven't visited the Champs in years.

Posted by
8293 posts

AH, 75020, you really do have a good life and I do like your attitude. Keep on keeping on.