So you are thinking about travel as the first item on your To Do list when you retire. Great idea. Nothing prepares you for this major change in your life like leaving your familiar surroundings and striking out on a new adventure.
But before you go….indeed before you even begin planning…there are a few things to keep in mind:
1) Is this a good time of year for you to travel? If your favorite season where you live is about to begin, perhaps you should put off your trip for a while. Many people have regretted that they didn’t have more time to spend in their home town when the weather was nice, when they wanted to be in the garden or walking around at leisure, and now that they are retired, they are reluctant to rush off. Think about your favorite season at home and plan your trip around that.
2) Since now you can travel any time of the year, consider ‘low season” for your first adventure. Not only will it be less expensive, but there will be fewer other tourists around and you will have a better chance of getting in to the museums, plays or hotels of your choice without long lines or premium prices. I am not suggesting you visit Northern Europe in February, for example, but late April or early May is lovely just about everywhere. The same for late September and October. Nice weather, not too hot, and much less crowded once the college kids are back at school.
3) If you want to travel in the winter, consider a trip to Asia. Thailand, India and Viet Nam are hot then, but not as hot as they will be in our spring and summer. It may not be ‘low season’ there but costs are generally lower than in the US or Europe.
4) Once you have figured out where you are going, write out a plan. You don’t have to follow it to the letter, but it will give you an idea of how much time to allot to different cities or countries. And then make sure to give a copy of your plan to a family member or friend, just in case they need to reach you.
5) While making your travel plan, be sure to pace yourself. You don’t need to see every museum in Berlin or hike all the trails in the national park in a few days. Allow some time to sleep late, sit by the river and read, or just hang out and watch the people. This is your time, with limits you create, and plans that you control.