You’ve reached the significant milestone of retirement. Although you might be out of the workforce, that doesn’t mean you can’t splurge a little and treat yourself to a vacation — and still stay active. After all, retirement is a great time to travel the world and visit certain spots you’ve always wanted to see in person.
The only question that remains is what are the best vacation spots for retirees? We turned to some travel experts to find out their recommendations for retirees looking to explore new destinations and stay on top of their fitness game.
Know your comfort level
“For some people, they are totally comfortable getting lost, renting a car and staying in a hostel,” says Jaxson Maurer, owner and operator of Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Sammamish, Washington. “For others, comfort means the Four Seasons and private transfers from point A to point B. It is important to keep comfort in mind to manage expectations.”
Some seniors are very active and can out hike, outrun and outlast people in their 20s and 30s. For these kinds of seniors, traveling abroad should be no problem at all, he says.
“While they have their health, mind and time, they should get out and experience everything they can,” Maurer says.
Time for a trip
For some seniors who may have mobility issues or less endurance, U.S.-based travel is a great option, Maurer says.
“There are some awesome options, such as old paddle-wheeler river cruises up and down the Mississippi, cruises to Alaska or road trips to national parks. Seniors with mobility issues will want to avoid Europe and all of its cobble-stoned streets, as well as third-world countries that don’t have the infrastructure in place for accessibility,” he says.
A really effective way to be more than just a tourist is to sign up for a one- or two-week course abroad, such as a language class at Alliance Francais in Paris, a cooking classes in Tuscany, or intermediate ski lessons in Andorra, says Elizabeth Avery, founder of Solo Trekker 4 U in Washington, D.C.
“For retirees, these multigenerational options are a good way to have an adventure with your children, grandchildren and nieces or nephews,” she says. “Solo travelers will find this especially attractive to create a local network of new friends and a connection for sightseeing and meeting up for dinners.”
You can also become part of a community, by signing up to house sit or dog sit abroad for fellow travelers, Avery says, or join an organization, such as Habitat for Humanity or Discover Corps, on a project abroad.
Vacation consultant Chris Caulfield, owner of CruiseOne in Westchester County, New York, says river cruises in Europe allow seniors to be more than a tourist.
“You will visit small villages that have remained unchanged. Plus, many river cruises have active excursions, and some have bike you can borrow for the day,” he says. “Travel to places you are interested in.”
Travel agent Loulu Lima of Book Here, Give Here in Austin, Texas, also says depending on the level of activity, seniors can explore the Amazon, South Africa or even hidden gems in the Mediterranean and Europe.
“Anything on wellness and adventure should be considered,” she says. “If seniors need payment plans, they should definitely be looking at booking early. They also should keep in mind what is important to them. Everything can be customized depending on budget.”
Lastly, Helen Prochilo, owner and manager of Promal Vacations near New York City, says National Parks are some of the best places active seniors can visit.
“The Grand Canyon is popular, but I would suggest Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park,” she says. “The scenery is spectacular with the hoodoos in Bryce and the beautiful colors. There is hiking and fishing and even the scenic drive is beautiful, too. ... You are as young as you feel!”