By Amanda Gokee
Traveling and retirement is a great combination, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Read on for how travel can lead to a healthier, more enjoyable time after you leave the workforce.
1. More excitement
Being bored is a valid concern for those considering retirement. People wonder: How will I fill up the long hours that I used to spend in the office, where I was valued and useful?
Incorporating travel into your retirement is a foolproof way of keeping things fresh and new. In fact, the routine of going to the office every day is arguably much less interesting than being able to experience new places, cultures, and people, as you can do when you're on the road.
To really get to know a place and its people, you may want to stay several weeks. In that case, you may be more comfortable in accommodations you can find through short-term home rental websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway. Or, you could list your own place on Home Exchange and swap with someone who has a home in another country that you're interested in visiting. Signing up for Home Exchange costs around $100 but then you can find free accommodations around the globe. Any of these options allow you to experience the excitement of being in a new place with the comfort of living in a home. (See also: How One Woman Retired at 60 and Traveled the World)
2. Constant learning
Traveling during retirement is a wonderful opportunity to learn new things. Reading up on the history and natural environment of the place you're visiting, spending time in museums and at other points of interest, and talking with locals are all learning opportunities.
Visiting a foreign country can be the perfect opportunity to pick up a new language that you've always wanted to learn, too. Learning languages is not only fun, it helps keep your mind sharp. You can take up a language through any number of immersion courses, some aimed specifically at seniors and retirees. Or, you could polish your language skills simply by engaging in conversations with locals you meet.
Cooking classes can be another great way to learn about a new place. Often, cooking classes abroad are very affordable, and they're a fun way to experience a new culture and meet new people. (See also: One Surprising Skill That Will Save You Money When You Travel)
3. Better climates
With the freedom to travel whenever you want, you can hop from place to place to chase your ideal climate. Leave behind cold, snowy winters and travel to a warm, sunny place. Find a tropical paradise any time of year. You might even fall in love with one particular city and decide to stay there. (See also: 5 Incredible Places to Retire Abroad That Anyone Can Afford)
4. Money-saving opportunities
Those willing to stay overseas for extended periods of time, or indefinitely, may be able to save big on living costs. Often you can make your retirement savings go much further abroad.
This can be helpful in lessening anxiety about having enough money saved for retirement, and it may even allow you a large enough margin to retire sooner than you thought. You may choose to rent out your U.S. home, or sell it if you're moving permanently. Either option could help you feather your nest egg while you're staying in cheaper accommodations elsewhere.
What's more, senior citizens are eligible for discounts on many travel expenses. All of the major U.S. airlines offer senior discounts on at least some routes, but usually you need to call the airline's reservations department, as the fares are not visible online. Most major American hotel chains also offer discounts for seniors or AARP members.
5. Volunteer opportunities
Volunteering can be the perfect way to create meaningful connections with people wherever you go and find fulfillment in giving back to the communities you are visiting. You can teach English, or offer health, law, or other professional services that you may have expertise in. Often, international volunteer organizations will place you with a host family while you are in the country, giving you an excellent opportunity to get to know locals and see the way they live.
A working holiday is another great way to save on accommodations while getting to meet people and spend time in another culture. Websites such as HelpX.net list farms, ranches, lodges, and even sailboats that invite volunteers to help them in exchange for room and board.
Traveling can promote a healthy retirement as well as it can facilitate an active lifestyle, with plenty of new physical and mental stimulus in the places you will be visiting.
Not to mention that some foreign countries have both more affordable and more accessible health care. In Colombia for instance, even with prices that have been rising, a visit to a doctor will cost you around $25 and you may be able to get in for a visit much faster than you would in the United States.
Live the retirement of your dreams
Often people have worked hard their entire lives with hopes of being able to travel, experience other cultures, and take in the natural beauty of exotic locales. Now is the time to make those dreams a reality and cross destinations off your bucket list.