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Travel in Retirement

I wonder what people’s experience has been.

Did you wish you had retired earlier, so you had more good years to travel?

Did you retire ASAP then discover you didn’t have enough money to travel and wish you had worked some more years?

Did you find that once you could travel 2-3 months per year you became bored with it, i.e. everything started to look the same?

Posted by
20802 posts

I retired as early as I was allowed to but didn't resume traveling to Europe until 8-1/2 years later, which I now sort of regret. However, I had pet responsibilities and an elderly parent at the time I retired, and it was hard to think of taking long trips at that time.

I can and do take long (but economical) trips now, most of them about 4-1/2 months long. I am definitely not bored with travel, and everything doesn't start to look the same. What ultimate sends me home is the shortening of the days in the fall, which saps my energy. (I need to think about some southern-hemisphere destinations, I guess.)

The Schengen-Zone limit of 90 days is a major annoyance.

Posted by
4761 posts

I’m still waiting to find out……. I retired last June. Travel during a pandemic has held certain challenges and I haven’t been able to do what I originally thought I would be doing. I have spent a week in Colorado, a week in Virginia/North Carolina, gone to Alaska on a cruise, and just came back from a Caribbean cruise out of Puerto Rico.

Cruising really wasn’t on my radar prior to the pandemic, but current safety protocols, low passenger volume, and terrific prices made it a good option for me at this time.

My “plan” is to travel extensively during the first years of retirement and then to taper off as the years go by. Life rarely goes according to plan, so I will see what comes. I have long had a monthly amount I put aside for travel. I always use that fund for travel and it seems to be working so far.

Posted by
346 posts

We retired on the early side and traveled for extended periods. We wanted to go to as many places as we could while we were healthy and mobile. My husband is visually impaired and travels with a guide dog. His first guide dog was a tremendous traveler and visited 18 countries. Each dog is different so you don’t know if the next one will be as good on a plane. Fortunately for us the second guide dog is just as good a traveler.

Now I have some serious health issues that has me reconsidering destinations, but I will not stop traveling yet. I am thankful we took advantage of every opportunity we had to travel. We will continue to do so. It’s money well spent. No regrets. Never bored. Glad we did not work more.

Posted by
7463 posts

We did retire early and hit the travel road over and over again. It became a major part of our lives. If we weren’t traveling we were planning travel.
We did not have any financial problems but traveled nicely, not extravagantly. We rented homes or apartments for a couple of weeks.
We had some health setbacks but recovered and started traveling again.
We would go to Europe or Asia for a month sometimes staying in one place one to two weeks. We did one three week trip to South America.
Some years we did two major trips. We mostly travel independently but have taken some speciality tours to areas where we didn’t feel comfortable traveling by ourselves.
We never ever have gotten bored!
COVID has been difficult as we miss traveling so much. However we wouldn’t feel comfortable going away quite yet.

Posted by
1572 posts

We retired at 62 but traveled abroad for two weeks every year before that. We accelerated our travel to 6 to 8 weeks a year after retirement. Now with covid putting a halt to our travels, I regret that we didn’t travel even more than that. We basically haven’t traveled anywhere since August 2019. We lived a debt free existence for 17 years before retiring and socked away money that would have been spent on a mortgage or car payment into investments that now provide us with a comfortable life. We will never be bored with travel and are looking forward to doing more in the years we have left. The key to keeping it interesting is not limiting yourself to one continent i.e. Europe.

Posted by
21650 posts

We probably are different than most. We didn't wait for retirement. We both were in education which gave us the summer to travel but family income was modest compared to non-education employed friends. Our big motivation was that both sets of parents were out of the depression with the approach of savings till retirement. Unfortunately two of the parents didn't make 65 and third died at 67. And, of course, all the great retirements plans went into the ground. Then my mother sat around for another 30 years lamenting how all the plans never happened.

We were in our forties with two young sons when we decided we will travel now. Cannot afford to wait. It would be a decade or more before we heard of Rick Steves but we should have written a couple chapters in his books. We knew every cheap trick there was. Bottom inside cabin for four on a cruise ship is pretty cheap. Solved a lot of problems. We have been on twelve European cruises and probably eight were with the boys in the early years. We saw a lot of Europe for a few dollars. Ate of lot of picnic lunches and even dinners. But everyone thought it was great. Looking back -- we did some dumb things -- but have a huge collection of pictures and memories as do the sons.

We are now close to 15 years into retirement so we travel more frequently and books a veranda on the cruise ship -- no more inside, dark cabins. And frequently fly business class and are able to do longer stays. But we still practice many of our traits that we developed earlier. We have hit most the major tourist attractions so tend now to stay for a week or more and enjoy the local cafes, restaurants, and bars. We will return to places we have visited before just because it is a very comfortable feeling and we know our way around.

Looking back we are glad we made the decisions that we did. Being in education provided some flexibility that many do not have. It worked for us. Given that we have almost made it to our 80s we could have wait till retirement. Looking back I am not sure what we would have gained if we had waited.

Posted by
2399 posts

We were set to retire May 2020 and leave two days later for a 3 week trip to London and Dublin. Then Paris and Croatia in September for 6 weeks. Still trying to get to Paris. We lived modestly for years putting our two girls through college, nursing school, a Master’s degree, 2 weddings and one 6 week European trip together. As soon as they had jobs we started our European travel, that was in 2012. Do we wish we had retired earlier, yes! Could we, no. We retired as soon as we could financially, I was 63, my husband 64. Luckily we both have pensions so we are fine money wise. Our house is paid off and we have no debt, so we are going to try and spend every penny in our 401s while we are healthy. I am going to plan every trip like it could be our last and splurge whenever possible. We saved and saved for a rainy day and it is raining now. We will never become bored with travel, too much to see, too much to eat. We go to new places and revisit old ones, we go alone and with family. We are hoping that when this pandemic ends we can branch out to Asia and South America.

Posted by
5221 posts

I did some European travel in college years and assumed I would return, but didn't in the next three decades of life and career. I did have some long US trips and no regrets there. We returned to Europe around retirement time in our early 60s and multiple times since then, plus China and Latin America and many cruises and lots of US travel. Now we're slowing down in our late 70s, my wife is done with long flights, and of course Covid has put a big damper on things.

Do I wish I'd retired earlier? Not really, I enjoyed my work for the most part and needed the income. It was hard to take long breaks though, as with most jobs. Frank was smart to work in education!

Did we discover after retiring that we didn't have enough money to travel? No, pensions and investment income have made it possible to live and travel comfortably though not extravagantly. With age we've spent more on things like premium economy seats and hotels with elevators. Maybe some time in my 80s I'll feel decrepit and affluent enough to spring for first class seats. ;-)

Did we become bored with 2-3 months a year of travel? Did everything start to look the same? We never took such long trips, though I must say Acraven's style appeals to me (I'd drive more though). Everything certainly doesn't look the same, though we have ODed occasionally, and temporarily, on chateaus and museums.

Posted by
3575 posts

Hard to believe but looking at 63 this year. I’d hoped to end my career on a higher note and not just have it peter out, just another repeated year of the same, which is what is happening.

I think the finances are lined up to retire, seems to be plenty of savings plus 2 small pensions. Looking at the stories here Suki’s style of 2 weeks in a location somewhere in a house or apartment is the most desirable, but I also like acraven’s frugal style, over many months, since from experience I know that limited money can make for the richest experiences while too much money is a barrier. I practically never spend up to what I can afford.

Posted by
1735 posts

Oddly, work is what got us traveling internationally. My husband ended up inGermany on a military deployment in his late 50s. His family were not travel-oriented and it was his first European travel experience (his military travels took him places he preferred not to return to). He fell in love with Germany and having a daughter working in France added another layer of comfort. Ailing parents meant we started off slowly during the early years of retirement, but we’re picking up travel speed as we watch the clock ticking. So far, we are hoping for a month long trip in April/May this year. It will be our longest yet.

He’s mid-70s, but a knee replacement means travel is even more comfortable for him than it was when we started. Comfort is a travel priority - we can stay in a garret hotel room as long as there is an elevator to get there. The days of climbing anything for a view are done. We get as much enjoyment out of a picnic as a sit-down meal.

Do we wish we’d started earlier? Yes - at this stage we recognize that we don’t have time or stamina for an unlimited bucket list. The upside is we appreciate everything we do get to see.

Posted by
6847 posts

I started travel to Europe in 1970 while going to college summer school. And we've been going 1-2 times most years. I didn't wait to get older before international travel.

Wouldn't take anything for our experiences--many of which have been some wild and crazy times. My parents were also international travelers, so I came by it naturally.

I've been sitting here looking at London hotels before our May-June cruise out of Copenhagen. Boy, Central London hotel prices are out of sight, and the taxes are even worse. Almost makes me want to fly into another city.

Posted by
1572 posts

Taking that leap into retirement can be a scary thing. It sounds like you are emotionally ready to do it. We knew it was the right time for my husband to retire because the stress of his job would have killed him if he had continued. The first year or two we dipped our toes in the water cautiously to figure it all out. We always lived below our means and continue to do so. Stuff isn’t important. Experiences are. Travel in retirement has given my husband a new lease on life since we left the rat race and this past two years without it has been devastating for both of us. These past few months we have been getting ready for our trip to Costa Rica. My husband is like a kid again studying up on the birds and wildlife of Costa Rica, figuring out what camera lenses he wants to take, practicing with his camera to get good shots of the frogs, sloths, etc. I come into the living room and he is listening to bird calls on his iPad. He is one “happy camper”. No regrets.

Posted by
2181 posts

Did you retire ASAP then discover you didn’t have enough money to
travel and wish you had worked some more years?

That one is my biggest fear.

I've been getting the pre-retirement jitters for the past few weeks as reality is setting in that I'll be retired within the next two years. I may have said "within the next two years" on this forum two years ago, but this time I really mean it. I've been methodical about saving for retirement all of my adult life but there is always that bit of fear in the back of my mind that it isn't enough.

I am curious if there is such a thing as too much travel and if I'll get bored with it, but I took December off from work to try and use as much of my vacation days as possible, and I didn't miss it or get bored. I do dream of month-long stays somewhere, but I also know that I don't like to sit still and I like my creature comforts and my habits, so sitting around in a strange place may not work. But can I continually be on the move for a month at a time? Time will tell.

Posted by
6513 posts

Travel was not a factor in deciding to retire early. Just tired of working. It was the kids leaving home, and a stable home situation that had us accelerate travel a few years before retirement. Our plan was to have one big foreign trip and multiple small domestic trips every year. We could have maintained that while still working; retirement just opened bigger windows of time in which we could plan. We never felt a need to have the longer 3+ week trips. Some of our friends who have retired ended up taking on small, part-time jobs for extra money (for travel) but mostly because they have time to kill. COVID put a dent into our remaining good travel years and creeping health problems make the future travel picture cloudy.

Posted by
1043 posts

I wonder what people’s experience has been.

**Did you wish you had retired earlier, so you had more good years to travel?

I retired when the finances were right for me. I always worked to retire and I was lucky to have a career which was enjoyable. I know several people who could retire financially, but cannot imagine doing anything else but go to work everyday. Not me! Plenty of other things to do.

Did you retire ASAP then discover you didn’t have enough money to travel and wish you had worked some more years?

Don't make that mistake. The most important exercise you MUST do is make a retirement budget and include everything including travel you prefer. Many people find they don't have enough money in retirement because they don't take the time to track expenses. A few years before you retire, track every dollar you spend a year. Be sure to include retirement healthcare insurance costs and add in travel for sure. Then project your income in retirement, pensions, 401k, social security and your own nest egg savings. MOST important, know how long your personal money (non-government money will last you). Sorry to go on and on, but planning for retirement is critical whether you travel or not.

**Did you find that once you could travel 2-3 months per year you became bored with it, i.e. everything started to look the same?**

No, because I try not to travel to places I have already been to before. Europe is vast and has many places you will never see because in reality you won't have time to see them. Make a target list. Most important and difficult at the top.

Since retirement I have not once wished I was back working. I miss my colleagues, but not the day to day. Good Luck.

Posted by
6513 posts

Threadware's advice is excellent. Our financial advisor told us it is a common mistake for people to assume their expenses will go down in retirement, because they will actually spend more to do more things (like travel, hobbies, eating out, etc. ) that negate any savings on work-related expenses. Quick and dirty: pre-retirement annual earnings - savings = annual expenditures. You need to have enough savings and income in retirement to cover the amount you're currently spending.

Posted by
10953 posts

I retired early. I had planned to do some traveling. I realized I preferred traveling to staying at home. I got rid of my home, started living in hotels, and began traveling full time. I haven't looked back. This way, while away, I don't have living expenses to pay for.

I realize this is not for everyone. But.....when I'm ready to stop traveling, I get a new home.

My saddest times are when I'm boarding the plane back "home." I don't want to leave. I start counting the days until I can get out there again.

One hint.....if you really want to travel a great deal and want extra help in affording it, you need to be wise and find ways to get free travel. I, almost exclusively, stay in chain hotels to get points. I use branded credit cards in order to get points. Sure, much of the time I don't get to stay in those little charming Rick Steves doing what I do, I get extra benefits. As an example, on my return trip back to the U.S. three weeks ago, I flew in first class on points and stayed that night at an airport hotel for free that would have cost about $250. By using points, the total cost to me, in fees, for the flight and hotel was a little over $400. That's much less than most economy tickets one way. And earning points really costs little extra.

And all of it, in times of Covid, was fully refundable.

Traveling for longer periods of time is different than traveling for 2 weeks a year. In those two weeks, you rush and include as much as possible. Perhaps six museums in six days. And your eyes glaze over.

Traveling for longer periods means slower travel. You have time to spread out visits, enjoy your surroundings, take time to just soak in your environment.

It never gets boring.

Posted by
2069 posts

We are on the cusp now. My husband turns 62 in 2 months. There is LOTS of retirement talk going on in our house right now. We have even bought our future retirement home. He has worked at the same company for 40 years. Sold it 8 years ago, but still works there.
Money is good, but we have a teenager at home in high school, so even if DH retires, we are not free till she graduates and we send her off to college. Still, he is burnt out and would like to retire sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.
When he does retire and our youngest is off to college, we will take our dream trip, a World Cruise for 130 odd days around the world.

I love reading these responses! Especially Frank and Frank ll.

Posted by
5769 posts

My retirement was pandemic prompted a year and a half ago. I was lucky to have access to financial advisors and planners and am assured I have plenty of assets to keep me going, so the decision to retire (at 59) was easier than I thought. I had planned on working until 62, enjoyed my job, which at the time required frequent travel, including 1 or 2 trips to Europe a year. If I would have stayed, I would have not been traveling, and to be honest, not sure what I would have done as work in the company.

I think the biggest mistake people make regarding retirement is thinking "I will work just a little longer, to save a little more" then wake up and find themselves working at 70. A nudge to retirement was not all bad for me...and a very generous severance package helped.

Money should not be an issue, but right now, paying full price for medical insurance is a hit, SS won't kick in for half a decade, a small pension (companies discontinued those some time ago), so relying on investments. Add to that renovation cost on a joint property, etc....we have to watch it, but then never traveled "first class" and do not like that type of travel anyway.

We started traveling every year to two years (plus business travel to Europe which afforded some personal time) at 40, so, excepting the pandemic, travel is not new.

We do plan on stretching the time though, what was 2-3 weeks has become 3-4 weeks, and we think up to 8 weeks, maybe more. We still need to wean ourselves off pets and have taken steps to prepare to sell our home, but invest in suitable properties with two of our children (Summers in Iowa, Colder weather in Louisiana, travel 3-4 times a year). I think we will never do 4 months of travel at a stretch, still too many obligations with my wife's parents and time enjoying kids, grandkids, and I hear Great Grandkids now as well. Unlike many, I look forward to coming home after 6-8 weeks of travel.

Posted by
5324 posts

I am now 74 and retired when I was 62 1/2, but worked part-time about a year after.

I loved my work and also love to travel. I am glad that I retired when I did. We have probably spent nearly $300K on travel in the past 12 years and enjoyed it all. I have been to 78 foreign countries and lived in two for 9 years.

Yes, the retirement decision includes many factors, such as how much money you need to live and travel.
Also, once retired, you are not traveling all the time and since you aren't working, you have a lot of time on your hands.

No problems for us on any of that, from 2010 until COVID19 in 2020, we did 2-3 overseas trips per year. About 80% of our bucket list is done and we have two trips booked for this year, a Galapagos Islands cruise in April/May and Safari in Kenya/Tanzania in July/August.

Things to consider money wise are some things you spend less money on in retirement:
clothes, cars (we drive less), gas, household stuff, etc. Also, you pay less in taxes and since you aren't saving for retirement, that 401K and IRA stuff no longer comes out of your income.

Things you pay more for in retirement -
travel and medical expenses. As you age, you do go to the doctor for checkups more, but the key is having good insurance. We have than and are healthy.

We do cruises, but also land tours or on our own. We stay in B&Bs or small hotels a lot, not 5 star expensive hotels and prefer the intimacy to staying on the high end.

Sometimes, I still miss the intellectual challenge of work, but I make up for that by reading about 60-70 books a year, both fiction and non-fiction. I read a lot of history and historical fiction, but also pickup some of the classics of literature that I missed in my early life.
Knowing more about the history of the place we are going adds immensely to the pleasure of touring there.

NO, no and no, we are never bored with travel and things don't look the same. I suppose if you go back to the same place all the time, that may be the case.
Also, touring some places you need to do when young. We did Machu Picchu in Peru when I was 71 and while we are healthy and relatively fit, climbing around Cuzco and MP for four days just wore us out. Don't wait to do stuff like this until you are at an age where it is hard to do.

Posted by
9510 posts

Love reading everyone's stories!

Similar to Acraven, I retired to take care of elderly parents. I had been assisting them with dinner, errands, etc but then when I turned 62 realized they needed more help. My financial advisor said I could afford to retire so I did. I spent the first 2 years caring for them, then started traveling when they were gone (long, full, well-traveled lives, lol!!).

I have never been bored with travel! Even returning to Yellowstone year after year for 2 weeks at a time, every day is different.

Now at 72 and looking in hindsight to the 18 months lost to travel due to the pandemic, I wish I had traveled for longer periods of time more frequently before the pandemic. But that's that and all I can do is travel as much as possible now until I am not able to go!

Posted by
440 posts

I retired at 62 and traveled extensively. There were a few years when I spent a lot of time caring for my father and didn't travel. When I planned a trip, the pandemic came. I'm really afraid that I'll be too old to endure the plane rides, the stairs and finding a car to rent. My trips have changed from seeing the sights to soaking up the culture of a city. I've never been bored when in a strange country, just intrigued by the people. My father was 92 when he passed and gave me this advice: "if there's something you want to do or someplace you want to go, do it now because the time will come when you can't" . I've tried.

Posted by
2231 posts

I was fortunate to be able to retire at 61. My husband retired a year later at 64. Prior to that we took a European vacation every year. We could only go for 17 days, and I dreamed of longer trips. And more of them.

The reality is that with so much volunteer work and occasionally babysitting our grandkids, we still have some trouble finding time to travel. But it’s definitely better. Pre Covid we took two big trips and a few smaller trips (4-7 days) each year. The biggest surprise to me is that I don’t really like to be gone for more than 3-4 weeks. As we get close to three weeks away, I start thinking about home. It’s certainly not boredom. I am never bored, either home or away. I just miss my kids and grandkids and being home. I find it is wonderful to come home from vacation and not have to go to work the next day!

I do not miss work at all. I would have retired earlier if I could have afforded to. I was very conservative in my financial assumptions and planning so I could afford to travel. The fact that we are healthy enough to travel is primarily a matter of luck.

Posted by
1061 posts

Did you wish you had retired earlier, so you had more good years to travel?

We started traveling in 2004 - 13 years before retirement at age 65. We were fortunate to have travelled to Europe for five years in a row before the pandemic. When things get better with the virus, we will schedule two trips a year

Did you retire ASAP then discover you didn’t have enough money to travel and wish you had worked some more years?

No issues with money.

Did you find that once you could travel 2-3 months per year you became bored with it,

Since we have two grandchildren living nearby, we don't like to spend more than three weeks away at a time.

One thing to consider in retirement is that you will most likely spend a lot more time with your spouse/partner. We have found that Rick Steves Tours provide a welcome amount of socialization as part of the experience.

Posted by
196 posts

We started travel to Europe in 1998 while my daughter was in high school. With two professional careers, daughter and pets we managed to take a trip almost every year to Europe until Covid, but most were of the eight day variety. Carefully utilizing Rick's "if this many days, do this" planning we saw much of what we hoped for in those 8 day trips, admittedly not very relaxing. Relaxing every year included a week at the beach, a week snow skiing. Feel like we did a lot.

Retired at 67 almost 4 years ago, (enjoyed my career but tired), the last two trips before Covid were almost 3 weeks, which we actually found a little long in some ways - we were always ready to "go home". We have beloved pets, guess that is part of the reason. Also two young grand babies, wife loves to be with them.

Plans were for longer trips obviously, Covid really messed that up. We have continued to ski, have been to the beach with the kids and grandkids multiple times, played a LOT of golf - al things that seemed to fit well with Covid.

Leaning forward with passport in hand for almost 3 weeks in Italy leaving March 30. Plan to be on the plan unless absolutely prohibited. Now almost 71, the clock is running faster. Expect we are going to run out before the money is gone.

Posted by
133 posts

I'd rather die broke than die admiring my 401K statement.

I'm reminded of the recent death of a relative. He worked up to nearly age 70 and he and his wife were ready to enjoy life. He was worth over $1 million. One day he didn't feel good, and 6 months later he passed.

Lightly prioritize your travel ideas. What is most important? Do them first.

And remember, just when you think you might retire, other responsibilities might interrupt your plans.

Bored with travel? How could that possibly happen?

Posted by
1736 posts

We started our yearly trips to Europe when we were 53, generally traveling for no more than two weeks and on a budget. We retired at 66 and were glad to be able to take longer trips and enjoy a little more luxury. But at 72, my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Our last trip was in 2019. I am SO grateful that we didn't wait until we retired to start traveling! (This doesn't really address the OP's question, but I hope it may help others to decide to go NOW.)

Posted by
4761 posts

Janet, I had some of those same thoughts as well. You can plan all you want, but life throws curveballs.

My husband passed away just a few years before he had hoped to retire. I had to learn to live in a new way that was not of my choice! I learned new ways to approach travel and retirement. I try to strike a balance between being responsible and still traveling and going while the going is good.

Posted by
3140 posts

My husband travels a lot for work and was not happy that my job as a teacher kept me from going on many trips with him. So this was one factor in my decision to retire. 2019 went according to plan-I went to Europe 3 times- but we know what happened since then. We'll see what happens in the next few years. 2019 was too much so I think my limit now is one trip to Europe per year.

Posted by
289 posts

We didn't retire "early". We retired when my husband had his full retirement benefits as a teacher, and I retired when he did :-) My husband is a good financial planner, and we were fortunate that we both have pensions.

Since retiring we moved to Hawaii, which is a vacation every day. We still spend our summers in Colorado and take a long road trip every year. We've covered all 50 states and over 50 national parks. But we also take an international trip every year because we can afford to and we still have our health.

We've been to eleven different countries since retiring, and have two trips planned for later this year. Honestly, I doubt that I could travel 2-3 months per year because I like to be home with my dog and my garden.

Posted by
567 posts

We still have a ways to go until retirement. My husband retired form the military, but real retirement is still a number of years off.

We never waited to travel. It began when he was deployed and the kids and I flew to meet him on a port stop and the travel bug got us. Part of our reasoning to not wait was that we watched his mom going from very well off to passing away at age 59. We said we wanted memories and to not wait.

I could travel for months and never get bored, but my husband's limit is a few weeks.

When my grandfather retired, they took off for two solid years, including with my paraplegic aunt, and traveled the world. This was around 1970, and I was always fascinated by that.

Posted by
14777 posts

I moved to Israel in my early 20s - got caught up in the "be a pioneer, build a new country" fervor. I managed to take a 2-3 week trip to Europe several times, the main constraint was financial, but western Europe was pretty cheap and in later years I was making decent money. Then I temporarily relocated to the SF Bay Area, where I ended up staying for 8 years. I couldn't have picked a better place (mid-Peninsula) or time (dot com and housing boom). I was a tax accountant which meant two very intense work seasons - sometimes I literally only went home to sleep, shower and do laundry. But I got comp time so when work was slack, I traveled all over the west, a few long weekends but mostly 2-3 week trips several times a year. I estimated I did about 120,000 vacation miles, as well as several trips back "home." Europe wasn't on my radar - it was just too far and it's so close to Israel, I said I'd wait . . . Then one fine January day, I was told that there'd be no more comp time. The very next morning I met with a realtor and put my condo on the market. I came back "home" and spent many months renovating my condo here and just enjoying being back. After 2 years, I suddenly took stock - I hadn't traveled anywhere. My B's (bank balances and body) weren't going to last forever and Europe was right next door.

I ended up going to Italy (for the first time) and before I left I'd booked a 4.5 week trip to Australia/New Zealand with stops in Beijing and Bangkok. I made a resolution to take 3 trips a year, at least. And for 11 years, until Covid, that's what I did.

Because Europe is so close (Athens is 2 hours, London or Lisbon is about 5), flights aren't expensive. OTOH there aren't really any bargains. I always start by planning a 2 week trip, but it usually ends up being 21-24 days. After that I want my own bed and my own shower. For farther destinations (I hate long-haul flights) I go for about 5 weeks. Sometimes I return to places I love but I always try to hit new ones as well.

I love the freedom of travel in retirement. The only time constraints are my own personal preferences. I usually travel in off-season when lodgings are cheaper and tourists are fewer. I never get tired of traveling. Sometimes I get lazy and relax for a few hours in my room rather than run around trying to see it all. When I was working I felt I had to make every hour count. Now, not so much.

I hope to get back to travel as soon as possible. I did get to the US last year for nearly 2 months, mostly visiting family and friends, but I got in a couple weeks of sightseeing as well. And I "escaped" to Budapest for a week back in October.

Posted by
3575 posts

Thanks, loved the stories. I guess this is the wrong forum, but no one mentioned golfing? I had a neighbor move to The Villages and raved about the 50 golf courses, I thought, that's 49 too many. I also wonder if any of these people moving to The Villages ever watched "The Prisoner"?

Penciling in retiring at the end of the year, maybe a trip to India in January to celebrate.

Posted by
1028 posts

I am 56 and just celebrated by 34th wedding anniversary. When we were young, my husband wanted to travel, I didn't care for it. When I was new in my career, working 60+ hours per week, he and his sister spent 11 weeks in Europe. We went on a few trips to the Western US and to the beach. My husband became a stay at home parent. We paid off our college expenses, then saved for college funds for our kids, paid our house off. My husband had some health issues and his desire to travel waned. He encouraged me to take my dream trip which I had originally planned for my 60th birthday. That was in 2015. Now, I am obsessed with travel. But I am satisfied with one 17 day trip per year. I am hopefully taking 2 trips this year to make up for missing 2020.

At first, I thought of the cost as an extravagance, but didn't feel too guilty because our saving was on track and we have no debt. My plan was that I could take a yearly trip as long as I was working. I also have the fear of not having enough retirement money. Unless, my health changes, I won't retire before age 65. My hope is that I can work part time until I am 70+. This is because I have a demanding, rewarding job and it is part of my identity. I also do better with structure. Having the continued income will be comforting.

I am starting to think of taking 2 trips a year, so my obsession may be getting worse : ).
I am traveling alone or with my adult son. Hubby stays home.
I can't picture traveling for more than 3 weeks at a time. I will get homesick for my husband.
I am not mad that my husband doesn't travel. We have a home full of living things (plant and animal) that cannot be left alone and some time apart from DH seems healthy. When I get home from every trip he says he gets a better wife.

I am very thankful that I took my first trip at age 50 instead of 60. I am thankful that I discovered this passion and have benefited from the experiences. I hope I will be healthy enough to travel for a very long time. (Now I have a knee replacement planned for my 60th birthday instead of that trip to Ireland!)

Posted by
2882 posts

Wish I had retired earlier?
-I think I retired when I was suppose to retire. Few times do I 'wish' I did something differently. There's no point to it. However, I did not wait for retirement to enjoy travel. My first trip to Europe was when I was turning 21 (3 1/2 weeks, $900.00 for all). I don't consider travel within the US, Canada or beach countries 'travel'...that's just me so I'm not counting that. Travel to me is going somewhere totally different for the mind ;ie, because of an interest in its art or history or where I can't speak the language. I first got back to travel to 'real' international locations when my daughter was 15, because I wanted her to think nothing of international travel and to not let it frighten her and she was at the right point in her life. From then on I had wonderful travels with my daughter or to visit my daughter as she ended up living in Europe for 7 years as an great fun (and travels with H as well). I took many long weekend vacations to Europe along with 2 week vacations. I didn't live waiting for retirement. I lived balancing now with maintaining possibilities in the future. Except for 3 years, I'd had a sick parent between my ages of 20 and 45 so I knew not to wait for the future or just collect things. So retirement was irrelevant in my life choices, nonetheless I retired when I was 59, because I had this thought that if I kept working to 65 I would drop dead shortly thereafter, as my job was extremely stressful and getting worse due to the decreasing civility of the general population and the change in corporate America. I was healthy when I retired, but I am sooo much healthier/stronger now. (knock on wood)
Retire and money?
-If you live within your needs and not your means thru life, on certain economic levels, one won't run out of money as much extra goes into investments. My financial planner agrees with me that I'm good, but there are no guarantees in life.
Travel 2-3 months?
-Unlike many of you, my sweet spot for a vacation is 17 days...that's the day I fly home. After that, I want my own bed, my family, my at home life which I love, etc. So in the past, I had rather go more often than all at once. I'm also not one to run around like crazy at my locations. I enjoy being in my locations, getting a feel for the area and people, etc. I'm not sure how all these flights will work with climate change as I am rethinking multiple yearly flights or maybe I won't go to Europe at all. Still figuring this out, climate wise.
-Also, when I did retire I immediately chopped at the top of my remaining bucket list so I'm lucky that I listened and did that. I know too many people who were waiting for the right time, even after retirement in spite of having enough money to travel. And now they are stuck at home...
--So again, forget retirement, one should balance one's life with working and just don't wait.

Posted by
2882 posts

@ threadwear

Many people find they don't have enough money in retirement because they don't take the time to track expenses.

It boggles my mind that everyone does not do this! Money disappears when one doesn't know where it goes.

Posted by
1092 posts

I have another 10 years until retirement. In 2014 I decided I would travel to Europe at least every other year, so far so good, except of course had to move the 2020 trip to 2021. Did a couple of double trips to Europe in the same year, son & daughter-in-law stationed in Germany, visited them one year & back again to see the new grandson on top of other planned trips. Just did France in Nov/Dec and will be off to Korea at the end of this year, to see the grandkids. Still plan on going at least every other year, I have motorcycle trips in the states with my friends throughout the year with week long road trips during the years I am not heading to Europe/Korea. Trying to squeeze in an Alps motorcycle trip (Austria, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland) in with the guys in a few years, knock out two things at once.

I plan on a month or longer trip right after I retire and continue with the every other year, just longer than the 10 - 11 nights I normally do. If I can do multiple trips a year, that's a bonus. Been putting away money for years, I have my military retire pay & currently in the middle of my second career, looking good to retire between 62 & 65.

When my grandfather retired, he & my grandmother spent two months in Europe, driving all over & staying in B&Bs. I've always remembered that and the picture slides of the trip that would somehow come out during visits. Remember the slide projectors?

Posted by
53 posts

My husband and I both retired early, (me 50, him 57). Neither of us have ever regretted it and we have been traveling ever since, at least once a year to Europe, including 2020 and 2021! We were lucky in '20 that we got to travel before all things stopped, and last September we decided that Greece was calling, it was wonderful, being careful and following protocols, we felt totally safe. We, like so many others above, realized that things can change on a dime. My father was always looking forward to the day he would retire and travel, he died from a sudden heart attack and never made it. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers way too early. My brother-in-law died at 57 suddenly from kidney disease...never had been sick; and my other brother-in-law keeps saying he will retire when he is 70 and then travel the world....he just got diagnosed with cancer. Bottom line, do it when you can.

We enjoy life and have worked hard to plan for retirement... (I too was always afraid we would run out of money, but we are fine) we have not been bored with travel at all. We just finished a Colorado ski trip with our kids and their spouses....It is 6 weeks until our next trip, a 2-week Viking cruise in the Caribbean...and after that our May - Rick Steves tour of Southern England, can't wait!...... and neither should you!!

Posted by
7423 posts

This is such a moving thread. I really love reading everyone's experiences.

I have about 15 years until I retire, I guess, and no idea whether we'll have enough to retire on, so maybe I'll keep going after that. We shall see.

My parents' last trip to Europe was in 2016, for their 50th wedding anniversary. They came to France and then we went up to Scotland, where my brother and his family joined us. My parents used to come every couple of years ago, but I don't think they'll be able to come again. I'm sad they never made it to Italy (where my husband is from), and that my dad never made it to Hungary (where I lived and taught a couple of different times; the second time, my mom came to see me). But that is just ego, wanting them to have seen places that are emotionally important to me; I don’t know if they have those regrets. I would ask, but don't want to make them sad.

Posted by
6847 posts

I went to summer school in college in Austria in 1970--51 years ago. And I fell in love with The Alps. And I've been traveling ever since.

My parents instilled international travel in me, and It's hard to get it out of your blood.

I retired 13 years ago at age 58, and we've fortunately had the resources to continue going. While working, I traveled all over the U.S. And we have little desire to go on vacations domestically. We seldom even visit the major cities 2-3 hours from us.