No doubt, your travel plans are on hold for quite some time. Perhaps indefinitely. For many of us, our dreams of traveling to those grand once-in-a-lifetime destinations that have lingered on our list until the right time may now be gone forever. Realistically, all we can do at the moment is dream or use our imagination.

Patricia Muir, PCC, founder of Maestro Quality and a work and life mentor says, “Travel has always been at the top of the ‘attraction’ list for those who are contemplating their ‘retirement’ lifestyle.”

When working with people who are creating a vision for their retirement lifestyle, Patricia has witnessed many of her clients reframe what retirement might look like. Often, their number one takeaway is that “it’s not all about the money”. They come to realize that it’s about the life they want to create now that they have the opportunity.

With tools, exercises, and facilitated conversations – sometimes debates – Patricia has seen people form a very clear vision of their retirement. What will their days look like? What will be most important to them? How will they plan for the lifestyle that they had always dreamt about? Afterall, as we move from our working years into retirement years, most of us will have 2,000 more hours per year available to us. There could be more years ahead in this new phase of life than what was behind in our career and family building phase. Worth a little bit of planning as I would say. 

How Travel Changes

While brainstorming what is attractive and appealing about this new phase and what they look forward to, many people declare that TRAVEL is high on their list. Exploring further (excuse the pun), they contemplate what travel will look like 5, 10, 15 years in their future. Often, the kind of travel differs greatly from the usual and the typical that they had planned and experienced throughout their working years. Travel plans shift from one-week vacations on a beach in an all-inclusive resort to something more meaningful. Many people over 50 express that they are looking for authentic experiences rather than orchestrated travel for tourists.

The following are some examples:

  • Once-in-a-lifetime – exotic locations and experiences
  • Luxury trips or backpacking trips
  • Further distance – new continents
  • Longer duration – months versus weeks
  • Different environments and activities – nature, cultural, touring, historical site-seeing, visiting family and working or give-back travel.

As examples of how diverse travel plans can be, the following comes from Patricia’s clients:

  • a 45-year-old woman planned to work with Dentists without in her ancestral homeland.
  • a couple planned to visit third-world countries with Habitat for Humanity
  • a single woman planned to travel around the world with a backpack.

Reality Check. Addressing Fears and Concerns

To facilitate a “reality check” and being careful not to dampen the enthusiasm in looking forward, exploring fears and concerns about travel is most important. Most often there is an unspoken nagging fear that limited physical ability that comes with age will affect the ability to fully enjoy a person’s travel plans or possibly dash a person’s ability to travel all together. Very few want to relate to or be associated with the stereotypical “senior’s” travel options.

Other fears and concerns that make people over 50 reassess their travel plans include the following:

  • Increased travel insurance costs
  • Inability to get travel insurance
  • Increased cost of travel – those new kinds of travel would cost more for sure
  • Loss of travel partners
  • Being far from home, family, and friends – most frightening, recent events caused by the pandemic stranded many travellers and required government assistance in repatriation. This was a big wake-up call and will be forever a nagging fear.

Reassessing Our Travel Plans

Did you know that of all those who put travel on the top of their list for retirement activities, approximately only 35% continue to travel after 5 years of retirement? Many of the reasons for abandoning travel are listed above.

One of the most common missteps in preparing for this next glorious phase of life is the tendency to plan for this one event called “retirement” without considering short, mid, and long-term goals that are aligned with physical capability and financial capacity as we age. With this in mind, how might you reassess your travel plans?

In the recent past, like many others, you might have considered bringing those big travel plans forward into the first 5 years of retirement. How you would feel if you were forced to abandon special travel plans such as that destination that you always wanted to visit but did not have the luxury of time during your working years? Most agree that a good plan would include the decision to travel while we can physically and financially make it possible. None of us want to live with feelings of regret and lost opportunity in the years ahead.

Post Pandemic. Travel Plans in the NOW

For many of us now, the dream of travelling has faded with new fears and restrictions. We will grieve the lost opportunity to travel internationally. The risks have consequences beyond our control. We will be angry. We will have regret. We will bargain and accommodate. Many of us will reconcile that ours travel days are in the past and accept the new world by being grateful for the travel we have experienced.

Let’s use our imagination to move forward.

“I am grateful for my travel experiences. My photos keep my memories sharp. I can tap into my imagination and revisit the U.K, Mexico, and the Caribbean anytime.” says Patricia.

Our travel can be in our imagination and our memories:

Browse and organize your photos from your years of travel. Most of us have wonderful photos from years of travel – solo, with our young families, and with our friends. Create your own online travel tour with your photos and blog your memories to share with your family and friends.

Our travel can be virtual:

Visit exotic beaches via live webcams. Tour zoos and botanical gardens around the world. Attend/watch the best performances on stage and concerts. Enjoy interactive online tours of international museums. Check out Forbes Travel Guide for virtual travel experiences.

Experience those once-in-a-lifetime destinations without leaving your home, without the crowds, and with minimal environmental impact. Virtual reality tools are becoming increasingly available. Check out National Geographic virtual reality for tourism during the pandemic and beyond.

Take a look at your travel plans and begin to reassess during this time of restricted travel. The experience of that once-in-a-lifetime destination may be closer than you realize.

Introductions to People, Places and Things for Adults 50+

Learn More