Retirement is a time for freedom when you can let go of responsibility and grab on to new adventures, especially if you’re in an active adult retirement community with a maintenance-free lifestyle. Without the worry of looking after a house, you have the much-deserved opportunity to explore not just more of your town, but also the country and the world! With all the possibilities, where should you go? Here are some tips to help you decide.
Considerations for Choosing Your Travel Destination
While half the fun is in deciding where to go, with so many potential destinations, these considerations can help you more easily narrow the list:
- The Season – You can look at this consideration in two ways. First, if there’s a particular time of year in which you are planning to travel, look for destinations ideally suited for that season. Or, if you have particular destinations in mind, consider what time of year it would be best to visit.
- Length of Stay – If you’re planning to travel for a long weekend, you’ll want to stay closer to home so you can spend most of your time at your destination instead of traveling to and from it. If you’re planning to stay a week or longer, then that certainly expands your options.
- Budget – This is certainly a guiding factor unless you have an unlimited amount to spend. For example, determining whether you can fly or will need to drive can narrow your list. But keep in mind that even if destinations you are interested in are on the more expensive side, you may be able to find ways to make them more budget-friendly such as traveling there off-season or staying in an Airbnb versus a hotel.
- Your Preferences – Perhaps the biggest driver in where you travel is what you want to do and/or what you enjoy. Before you think about the place, think about what you’d like to get out of the trip. Do you want to spend time outdoors? Sightsee and learn about history? Relax and do nothing on a beach? Experience other cultures? Then look for destinations that fit those preferences.
Top Destinations for Travel in Retirement
Speaking of preferences, we’ve also picked some top destinations for active adults tailored around the type of experience they offer:
For Wilderness Lovers:
- Alaska – Seeing Alaska by cruise ship is an ideal way to view attractions such as Glacier Bay, the Inside Passage and even tour Denali National Park on a day trip. Cruises typically depart from Seattle and San Francisco in the United States or Vancouver, Canada.
- National Parks – You can explore our beautiful national parks – Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Teton, and Mount Rushmore via a bus tour, train trip, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, plan a road trip and drive yourself.
- New England – Perfect for a fall trip if you’re considering our season’s tip above; you’ll find plenty of bus or train tours for peak viewing of the changing leaves in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. There are also plenty of charming towns to explore, not to mention the delicious New England food.
- The Smoky Mountains – There’s plenty of scenic beauty along the Tennessee – North Carolina border as well in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The surrounding towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in Tennessee and Asheville in North Carolina also feature attractions like the Biltmore Estate and Dollywood theme park.
For Beach Seekers:
- Florida – From Key West and Miami in the south to Cocoa Beach and Daytona in the east to Clearwater and Sanibel Island in the west to Destin and Pensacola on the gulf, Florida has just about every type of beach experience imaginable. For the child at heart, Disney World in Orlando is also a wonderful option.
- The Caribbean – Sun, sand, and gorgeous water are trademarks of the Bahamas, Antigua, Barbados, and Nevis. What’s more, all-inclusive trips are also popular in the Caribbean, as are cruises in which you can enjoy multiple islands in one trip. Getting there is easier than you may think with many islands offering commercial airports; those that don’t can be reached by ferries or commuter planes.
- California – Head up State Route 1 from south of Los Angeles all the way north to Mendocino County for a scenic road trip through areas like Big Sur, Monterey Bay, and San Francisco. Continue even further to enjoy the wine country in Sonoma and Napa Valley.
For American History Buffs:
- East Coast – Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown in Virginia, Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia’s Historic District, as well as Boston, Massachusetts are a history lover’s dream.
- The South – St. Augustine in Florida and Tennessee’s Civil War sites from Spring Hill to Nashville have numerous historical options in which to visit.
For European Travel:
- River Cruises – You’d be surprised how much of Europe you can see this way. Several waterways host river cruises including the Douro in Portugal, the Danube and Rhine in Germany, and the Rhone and Seine in France. Many also offer pre-and post-cruise extensions in major cities.
- Visits During Specific Occasions – Oktoberfest is an annual tradition in Munich, Germany that attracts over 6 million people each year. During the Christmas season, towns such as Vienna, Salzburg, Prague, Cologne, Strasbourg, and Basel also host charming winter markets and transform beautifully to celebrate the holiday.