August 6, 2017

Retirement Travel: Summer's Not Over Yet!


A part of a satisfying retirement for many of us is an active travel scheduleDepending upon our budget and personal desires, that could mean cruises, trips to Europe, and a few weeks in Hawaii. It might mean a long weekend in Durango, The Olympic National Forest, The Shenandoah Valley, or a B&B in Bar Harbor, Maine. It might mean checking into a hotel in a small town like Patagonia, three hours away from responsibilities and routine.

Over the past few months a few e-mails have asked me to investigate some unusual or different travel options. Of course, being retired, we are not restricted to vacations only from September through August, but maybe you want to get one more trip under your belt before Labor Day. I've located a few lists of places to visit and explore, some more expense than others, and the majority are within the continental U.S. so potentially doable by the bulk of the readers of this blog.

I know there are a lot of readers of this blog live in other countries: England, India, Canada, and Australia lead the list. For you folks, I'd ask a favor: leave a comment below with some of the most interesting and out-of-the way spots to visit in your country. Other readers who live there might find a great weekend getaway idea, or a longer excursion.  

So, are you ready to hit the road (or the skies, the seas, or the rails)?

This first site is from a fellow who collects vacation ideas. Some people collect stamps, quilts, old movie posters, or even tea spoons. Peter Shannon collects ideas for trips. His lists are extensive and fascinating. 

There is a seemingly endless list of vacation ideas grouped by location or type. Romantic vacations, those for the adventurous among us, unique places, seasonal trips, trips grouped by states or regions...the choices are all there. This link is one you should bookmark for all those times when the urge to explore hits: 1001 Vacation Ideas.


Another idea is to put together your own trip based around a theme. My wife and I like to drive portions of old Route 66. The famous "Mother Road" is still quite accessible in several places along its route from Chicago to Los Angeles. Old style motels, caf├ęs, and general stores that once bustled with travelers remain open for those who like to visit an important part of our past. Books that allow you to trace the route and provide specific, mile-by-mile recaps of what used to be there are loads of fun.

Over the last several years Betty and I have been visiting as many of the National Parks as we can every time we take a road trip. This goal feeds her photographic need and provides me with more blog ideas. You can specialize on national monuments, state parks, or anything that can be labeled.

How about all the places with picnic facilities that overlook a lake or stream within 150 miles of your home? Do you like to read? How about a trip that visits the best independent bookstores in your home state or region of the country. How about unusual museums? One of our most memorable finds was a salt and pepper shaker museum. Any hobby or passion can form the basis of a trip that you will remember forever. Now that I am collecting and repairing antique radios, I would love to put together a trip that visits stores that specialize in these beauties. 

The best idea generator lies between your ears. Take anything you like and build a vacation around that idea, hobby, or passion. And, of course, planning that trip is at least half the fun!


Get planning and start packing.

28 comments:

  1. My suggestion would be for folks to visit Canada. where the US dollar goes 25% further and the national parks are free to everyone in 2017 as part of the country's 150th birthday.

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    1. Good points about the stronger dollar and free parks. My daughter just returned from a business trip to Quebec City and loved it.

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  2. Malcolm and I enjoy "themed" trips. Last summer we went Island Hopping, which included Bermuda, Block Island, and Martha's Vineyard to name a few. I have recently developed an interest in how Florida got its coastal names; Emerald Coast,Gold Coast, Nature Coast, etc.and have been on a quest to make those discoveries this summer. We will be visiting the Forgotten Coast and the Emerald Coast within the next two weeks, then comes the First Coast and the Space Coast. It is always fun to look at something familiar through "new eyes." This post is a good reminder that you do not have to travel far to have a memorable experience.

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    1. I hadn't thought of it until you mentioned it, but Florida does have a lot of special names for parts of the state. How each got its name would make for a fascinating intellectual and travel adventure. Great idea, Suzanne.

      I imagine every state and every country has the same type of themed exploration available if one searches for it.

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  3. Today I'm off to a local attraction ~ 1 hr away: Haying in the 30's. A family's experience with cancer in 1985 prompted a fundraising response by the community. In the late 1990's, the family decided to host a weekend event that would show people what it was like to make hay in the 30's with any donations going back to cancer patients. The attraction has grown over the years and now raises as much as $200K with another $25K raised in donations throughout the year.
    Picking a sporting event is another example of themed trips. In a few weeks, I will travel south through the beautiful foothills of Alberta to Rocky Mountain House to see a chuckwagon race. This association has 10 stops throughout BC, AB, and SK from May to August. Another themed vacation would be to take in the folk festivals in a designated geographic area.

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    1. Haying and chuckwagon races...I absolutely love it, Mona.

      Folk festivals, especially music-oriented ones, are rather popular in Arizona. During the summer Flagstaff and northern communities host them. Come cooler weather, the Phoenix and Tucson areas have several. That is another great idea that doesn't involve a lot of travel or expenses.

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  4. We now live in a vacation destination and love it. So we get to gripe about the traffic all summer like the rest of the 'locals'! We are thinking about a river cruise in Europe.
    b

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    1. Take the Rhine River Cruise from Amsterdam in May and you and Dave can share wine and meals with Betty and me!

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    2. Oh! That would be fun! I'll have to get back to you on that.
      b

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    3. What cruise line are you using?

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    4. Viking. Departs Amsterdam on May 18th.

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  5. We retired just over 2 years ago and as “young” retirees (age 64 so young is a relative term) we are traveling somewhere in Europe each year while we are still strong and in good health to withstand the long airplane trips. This September our next European country is Portugal that we'll be seeing on a self-guided driving trip from Porto to Lisbon with lots of stops along the way.

    For next year we already have our spots reserved on a 10-day hiking holiday in Ireland (our first guided trip). I had no idea that hiking holidays were a thing but when I started hiking after retirement a number of my retired hiking friends mentioned them to me and they all had great experiences. Apparently the hikes are well organised, there are drop out points with a vehicle waiting if you find it too much that day, they handle all the hotel bookings, luggage transfers, breakfasts and evening meals with the hiking group (pre-hike instructions and post hike tales I imagine) plus a day here and there to explore on your own or with your new hiking friends. We'll be staying in Ireland for 5 days afterwards to do some touring on our own as well.

    The plan in a few years when overseas travel might be more than we want to put up with is to travel more in North America, perhaps a travel trailer RV to facilitate that. It may seem odd to have plans stretching out that far but I am a planner by nature and gives me something to look forward to. Of course we’ll have to see how it all works out, things you can’t control can introduce change at anytime, but I think it’s nice to have plans to make dreams become reality.

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    1. I am a planner, too...sometimes a bit over the top!

      Next year's European river cruise will be the first fully guided tour we have taken. Our previous trips to Europe were on our own. I am interested in seeing how I feel about being with one group of people for over a week. I must admit I am relieved that I have to do very little planning for this one. I have been cautioned that there will probably be a few obnoxious members of our group, it comes with the territory. Betty says it will be a good chance to practice my patience and tolerance skills. She always sees the bright side.

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    2. Bob, we have made lasting friendships on cruises and we have also met a few jerks. The latter will make themselves known quickly. Hopefully your dinner seating arrangements are adjustable :-)

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  6. Those of us who are retired on a limited budget can still enjoy mini vacays by visiting interesting attractions without busting the budget! For years my husband and I have looked at the map of our Province and selected an area to explore. Usually there are four or five small towns on the list. We pack a small lunch and drinks and head out early in the morning and don't usually return until late evening. During our trips "abroad" we have touched a genuine piece of the Berlin Wall in a Mennonite Village setting, visited an opera house named after Nellie McClung an important Canadian feminist and suffragette, a windmill in a Dutch settlement, explored the Vikings in an Icelandic community, we were part of the 100th anniversary of a small town which welcomed us with open arms and we were included in their historic photos of the day's celebration, saw the largest mesosaur skeleton found in our province to date, viewed a grotto dedicated to the Virgin Mary as the town prayed their children wouldn't fall victim to the polio epidemic sweeping the area, toured Lower Fort Garry which used to be the largest trading fort in Manitoba, visited many museums, log and sod houses, cemetaries and picnicked at small beaches just off the highways. We've visited rodeos and threshermans exhibition, replicates of small villages depicting life in the early 1900s, and at the Peace Gardens located between North Dakota and Manitoba we listened to the chimes of the Carillon church bells as we contemplated the silence around the beams from one of the towers of 911. There are so many festivals during the summer you could be busy every weekend for two months. You owe it to yourself to find such places and visit them. I can tell you that majority of our friends and coworkers had never heard of most of the towns we visited which made us feel like we'd had as important a vacation as anyone going on more extensive expensive vacations! Cheers!

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    1. Your approach of finding out of the way sights is much like ours. Betty and I often joke that we have been to more places in Arizona than those who were born here. You have had some really memorable adventures.

      In fact, as she read some of the responses to this post she suggested a place we haven't been back to for years: the small hamlet of Summerhaven at the top of Mount Lemon near Tucson. It's about 3 hours from our home and 35 degrees cooler. There are a few restaurants, lots of pine trees, and views that stretch for 50 miles. Now, we just have to find a date and take the trip.

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  7. So glad you wrote about this. Spouse and I are definite vacation aficionados. We live our lives to plan for them and go on them, but after 15 years of heavy travel, and 7 of retired travel, we are slowing down. We can't do those plane trips to Europe in economy any more (business class is out of the question) so we're concentrating on the states. Unfortunately we have lived in our home state almost all our lives so we have worn out all the roads here. But this afternoon I'll be checking out your new blog you mentioned. Thanks.

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    1. You are welcome, Anne.

      I understand the problem caused by shrinking economy seats on planes. We spent more than I expected to upgrade to premium economy on the long segments of our flights to and from Europe next year. A ten hour flight already scares me. That long in a cramped, barely reclines, poorly padded seat would not be good for my physical or mental health. The extra 4" of legroom, better meals, and a bit more reclining angle won out over our budget.

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  8. Bob,

    Another great post!

    About a two years after I retired... after I had taken a few long distance trips.. after I had cleaned out the garage, etc. I was looking for local, less expensive adventures. I took out a map of my area and placed a small saucer (the kind that you set a coffee cup on) on the map with my hometown in the center. I drew a circle around the saucer. With my map scale it ended up being about a 40 mile radius. I then sat down and started to list the small towns, parks, historic sites,etc. that I had never visited, or had not visited in many years. When time permits I jump in the car and explore those sites. It has been wonderful. I have discovered many wonders and wonderful people within that circle.

    Even in a sprawling urban environment you may be able to find things worth visiting.

    I highly recommend it!

    Rick in Oregon

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    1. I like that idea. I will give it a try. After 30+ years in Arizona I feel like we have done it all, but your idea may open our eyes.

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  9. I was going to say that I have been blessed to have always lived where there were alot of local attractions and one day and two day vacay type options, but then as I began to type I realized that is true almost anywhere in the US-which is why I am turning my rare long road trip into a single destination at the end. When I return to colorado it will be end of summer and early fall, prime time to explore the mountains and other areas!

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    1. Colorado in the early fall is spectacular. You will stay quite busy, I'm sure. Take one of your beautiful quilts to stay warm!

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  10. My wife and I love to travel. We've been to many of the Asian countries, China, Europe, numerous times, South America, Central America, and Canada, cruises to the Caribbean, Alaska, and Mexico, all have been great trips and we have really enjoyed them. However, the best vacations we have ever had are the 10 day motorcycle trips that we take exploring the good old USA. For 15 years we have been traveling, 10 days per year, (we retire later this year), on our motorcycle and have had some great experiences. We've seen national parks, national monuments, state parks, ridden to the top of 14,000ft peaks, (Pikes Peak, and Mount Evans, both in Colorado), and have thoroughly enjoyed each ride. We get to meet new people on every trip - people love to talk to people on motorcycles, which we really enjoy - and these have become our favorite vacations. Next summer, since we'll finally be retired, we're planning a 45 day trip around the US and are just starting a list of some of the things we want to see and do, so we really appreciate the link you provided in your blog. It's best to hear about neat places to see from the people who have lived in or visited those places. Thanks for your blog Bob, I really enjoy it, mostly as a lurker, but now, finally, as a participant.

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    1. Well, thank you for being a reader and leaving a comment!

      THough I am sure there are others, long time reader, ChuckY and his wife are motorcycle enthusiasts, too. It isn't something that has ever attracted me, but I know those who like it really, really like it! Your adventures prove my point.

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  11. For the adventurous who like combining riding horses with seeing the wilderness, there are horse packing trips in the American West. You can go for a week or a weekend, depending on your skill level and stamina.

    Lovers of horseshows and dogshows could design trips based on catching major shows. Or if you want to expand to dressage and go to Europe, seeing the major dressage schools are fabulous experiences.

    Musicians might like seeing factories where their favorite instruments are made (Steinway, Mason Hamlin, Fender, etc.). Opera lovers can make up their own tours depending on the performances or festivals they want to include, or find packages that include major operas, either in the US or in Europe.

    My father loved trains and we would go to train museums as day trips. How far you are from the museum will determine if you go on a day trip or an extended stay.

    Civil War buffs thrive in Gettysburg, which has a variety of battlefield tours.

    Lovers of particular architectural styles can plan tours to various towns. The grand mansions of Newport come to mind for starters. Gothic and Renaissance churches in Britain and Europe as well.

    Old rose aficionados can vacation in various famous gardens around the USA and in Europe, depending on when the roses are in bloom.

    If you love covered bridges, there are a surprising number of them intact throughout the US. Traveling to see and photograph them can be wonderful.

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    1. That is a tremendous list of theme-oriented possibilities. I appreciate your input. I can see myself doing almost all of them.

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  12. I love travelling in North America...I feel safe! With our Canadian dollar, staying in Canada works for me. My escape is Nelson, British Columbia. It's nestled in the mountains and is 20 minutes from the bustling town to mountain skiing. No snow making necessary! Nelson is an all season tourist town that appeals to many. :)
    Robin

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    1. Thanks, Robin. This blog has so many Canadian readers your mention of Nelson probably rings many bells.

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