Ideas for Vacationing as a Retiree | RecNation

Vacation Ideas for Retirees

An RV traveling down a road in a beautiful mountainous area.

From weekend getaways to nearby parks to multi-week journeys across Europe, there’s a vacation getaway for almost everyone. And although you can and should travel at any age, many people — especially Americans — use retirement as a time to explore the globe. An impressive 63% of Americans 50 and older list travel as an important retirement goal

While travel is certainly enjoyable, some people don’t know where to start when planning a trip. Not only do you need to consider a budget, but you also have to choose a desirable destination, activities you want to do, and places you want to see that all fit within that budget. Since there are so many factors to consider when planning for a vacation after retirement, use this guide to make the most of your time. 

It All Starts With Planning

It might be tempting to grab your passport and head to the airport at the drop of a hat, but the key to a good vacation experience is careful planning beforehand. It’s not all tedious, boring work, either. In fact, it can be fun as you anticipate all you want to do and see. 

Start by creating a list of places you would like to see. This can be a short list of destinations to visit this year or an extensive list of sights and cities to visit over the next few decades. 

Next, decide how long you feel comfortable traveling for. Some people can live out of a suitcase for several weeks — or months — on end while others only want to be away for a week or two at a time. Other factors will also determine how you travel. You might be limited by budget or will need someone to care for your pets and home while you are away. If you are gone for a long time, you might need to store your boat or RV for safety or to prevent weather damage, ask the post office to hold your mail, and unplug unused electronics — like your TV — to save money.    

You also don’t have to go to a different place each time. Some people invest in vacation homes in destinations they don’t want to live in full-time. With this option, you’ll be more familiar with your environment and you can focus on relaxing more. 

The Top Places to Vacation as a Retiree

As of 2023, 195 countries in the world are open to tourists and travelers.  Each place has its pros and cons, which are often determined by your personal travel preferences. 

You can also choose how you visit each place. For example, you can set up a tent near the Grand Canyon or stay in a hotel lodge within the park. You can also travel by RV or look into Airbnb and homestays. Ultimately, your destination depends on how you would like to travel and what sights you’d like to see along the way. 

Our National Parks

The National Park system in America is vast and diverse. In the United States, you can visit countless cities and towns, 423 National Park sites, and countless beaches, rivers, and lakes.  If you visited a new National Park each week, it would take you more than a year to see them all — and you would only have time to see a small part of each one. 

State parks span across the whole US, and you’ll get to see natural wonders like the Grand Canyon and the Guadalupe Mountains. If you decide to visit any national park, research their parking availability beforehand. Some parks may be more crowded, and you’ll have to park large vehicles like RVs elsewhere if you want to visit. In those cases, create a backup plan for where you can store your RV in states with multiple state parks like Arizona and Texas while you can hike and explore. 

Europe’s Diverse Landscape

Europe has something for everyone. You can enjoy bustling cities like London and Berlin or escape to the vast fjords of Norway. You can visit hot climates like Spain and Portugal or go skiing in the Swiss Alps. Food, culture, and history all change within a few hours when you are traveling in Europe. Even if you think you have seen it all, there’s always something new to explore.  

The Caribbean

The Caribbean is known for its bright tropical islands and lush rainforests. You can relax on the beach with a colorful cocktail or dive into clear blue waters to snorkel with sea turtles. 

Also, it might be easier to charter a boat or rent one during your trips instead of bringing your boat to the islands. Unless you plan to sail from one island to the next for a few months, storing your boat is an easier option. Especially for states close to the Caribbean Islands like Florida, you may want to store your boat or RV on the mainland and be free to explore the islands as you please.

Explore at Your Own Pace in an RV

Air travel can quickly become expensive and it can be exhausting to deal with connecting flights and different airlines when you want to get to specific places. This is just one reason why more retirees are embracing the open road with the help of an RV. 

For example, if you happen to drive past Casey, Illinois, you can see some of the world’s largest objects — including the world’s largest rocking chair. It’s entirely your choice where you stop, what you see, and when you get back on the road. 

An RV can also be useful for retirees because it allows you to travel with more of your clothes and your personal items that you use each day. You can spend less time doing laundry and won’t have to rifle through a suitcase to find specific items. Instead, your items can be hung up in a closet for easy access. Traveling with personal items in an RV can also allow you to pack medical devices and medications that are hard to bring on airplanes.  

You can also find an RV that meets your budgetary and comfort needs. You can rent one for a few weeks to take a specific journey or buy one that you use throughout the year. Just like cars, there are base-model RVs and luxury options with spas and 4K TVs built-in

Considerations of RV Travel

While RV travel is a favorite way for many retirees to see the country, this option still requires a little work and maintenance know-how. The good news is that you do not need a special license to drive an RV. Any driver’s license will suffice. However, you might want to practice driving one of these vehicles before you head out to your first destination. Make sure you have RV insurance in case of damage.  

If you buy an RV, you will also be responsible for regular maintenance. While many places service RVs for people on the go, it will help if you have a basic understanding of maintenance and can troubleshoot issues. An RV is like a car and a home, which means you will need to repair both the mechanical elements and home fixtures like plumbing, stoves, and electrical wiring. 

Finally, when you aren’t using it, you will need a place to store it. Not all neighborhoods allow people to keep their RVs in the driveaway and this option also exposes your RV to the elements. You might want to budget for storage outside of travel season. These are just a few pros and cons of RV living before you invest in one.  

Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Budget

Travel can quickly get expensive if you aren’t careful. By managing your budget, you can increase the number of vacations you take each year and the number of experiences you enjoy with each trip. Here are a few tips to save money. 

  • Search for discount programs for seniors: Many travel sites and hotels offer coupons for retirees who are traveling the world. 
  • Follow travel newsletters for deals: You can receive email alerts when there are steep discounts on airfare, hotels, and tours. 
  • Look for all-inclusive options: A resort or tour that includes all activities or meals will provide more value than one that does not. 
  • Travel outside of peak seasons: Prices often peak in the summer and this is also when many destinations are too hot and crowded to be enjoyable.  
  • Close your home and store your boat or RV when traveling: This can reduce your utilities cost and protect your belongings. For instance, driving from Houston to Fort Worth when visiting a large state such as Texas can be a four-hour drive. Storing your boat can prevent salt water and air from rusting it out while storing your RV can prevent vandalism or damage from weather and animals and save on fuel. 

By utilizing these tips, you can focus less on money and more on enjoying your vacation. 

Prioritize Traveling Throughout Your Retirement

Retirement is a great time to travel for many Americans because there aren’t as many constraints on your schedule. You aren’t limited by PTO days or the school schedules of your kids now that they are grown. Travel is also a great way to have new experiences and learn about the world around you — while still making time to relax a little along the way. 

Whether you want to drive across the country all summer or simply get away to the Caribbean for a few weeks, the world is waiting to meet you. 

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