Top Five Tips for Planning The Perfect Travel Experiences for the First Three Years Of Retirement

travelThis Grandma and Grandpa have a bucket list of seeing all of the wonders of the world.  Just when we thought we had completed seeing all of the wonders that still exist on various lists, a new list emerged.  That is wonderful, as it gives us more wonders to look forward to.

It occurred to Grandpa and me that we do not just plan travel, we plan experiences.  In that realization, I immediately thought to share how we plan our travel.  This Grandma read that during the first three years of retirement or transition to retirement , we Boomers travel. . . a lot.  We and grandpa think we are different but it seems we are typical Boomer grandparents.  In addition to visiting our grandchildren, and sometimes in conjunction with visiting our grandchildren, we are traveling. . .  a lot.

Sharing how to create an experience from travel means not only giving you every option, from the easiest and cheapest to the most luxurious for extravagant price, and ways to maximize the value of each, and how the travel can be turned into an experience for less at every travel budget.

I have done that with the Ivory Lodge in Sabi Sands and &Beyond Desert Lodge in Namibia, and Dubai and Abu Dhabi with Abercrombie & Kent in previous posts.

I have done that with Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland with Gate One Travel, and will share when we return.

I have done that for friends who asked me to review their planned Tauck Tour to Israel and Jordan.  I told them that the itinerary was spectacular.  I suggested questions to ask.  I recommended excursions they should add, and what to supplement the tour with and how.

I love doing this and have some general principles to start.

HAVE A PARTNER OR PARTNERS

Everyone is different, but fortunately Grandpa and I have the same philosophy, same ideas as to locations, and same ideas on maximizing destinations, modes and style of travel.  I am detail.  He is the big picture.  Together, we create an experience.

So, more heads are better than one.  And more heads with different interests about the same travel destination, the better.  But, be sure that similarities as to destination, modes and style of travel are there in selection of a travel partner.

Planning an experience enhances the experience.  There are even studies to show this.  Divide up responsibilities.  My job is the researcher.  I love this job.  I have developed a method of travel research that I have not seen before and it works for us.

CREDIT CARDS AND POINT ACCUMULATIONS

For our travel experiences, Grandpa and I prefer a Starwoods reward card and an American Express Platinum card.  We charge everything on credit cards to accumulate the most points we can.  We also take advantage of airline credit card sign up specials, and have obtained Delta rewards cards and American Airlines reward cards in the past.  To make this happen, both partners must obtain credit cards for the most points, watching when there is a special where 50,000 airline points are given for expenditures on the card.  Each airline only allows you to do it once, and if the points will expire, don’t both with this card, unless it is imperative for some travel.

PICK A PASSION

Grandpa and I decided that we would have several types of travel experiences. One set of experiences, yet to be completed, is to visit all the national parks in the U.S. and what is nearby each that we would want to also experience on the same trip.  One set of experiences is to see all the wonders of the world, and when we thought we were near completion of seeing those wonders that exist, another set appeared.  The third set of experiences is to spontaneously take advantage of airline and travel specials, flash sales, and the such.

The last set of experiences is adding adding luxury for the trip, balancing using award points for part of the trip to justify expenditure on a bit of luxury, such as an exclusive hotel or resort, an upgrade to a deluxe room, a few extra days pre tour or post tour, a spa treatment, a special restaurant. Alternatively, we consider adding some experiences not covered in a group tour, or upgrading a group tour.

REVIEW QUALITY TOUR COMPANIES’ ITINERARIES

A quality tour company does not necessarily mean the most expensive.  When Grandpa and I decide on a destination, the first thing we do is explore Abercrombie & Kent’s itinerary for the location and the hotels at which the tour stays.  Then, I check Tauck and Gate One Travel.  From those three, we get a good idea of what a standard quality tour company recommends.  We compare the prices and decide if we want a small group, or are okay with a large group, or want individual private travel for the destination.

The easiest travel is a cruise.  This Grandma does not cruise.  For easy land trips, we look for a tour.  If we are looking at a destination where we have to be concerned about security or we want the smallest luxury group tour, we always go with Abercrombie and Kent.  If we are looking at a destination where a large group will not make a difference, we look at Gate One Travel. We comparison shop tours as we comparison shop all purchases.

We then decide on upgrades, whether it is to a better room in a hotel or an addition of an excursion, either through the tour company or privately.

Even if we are not deciding on a private tour with a private tour guide, we look at the reviews for the top rated private guides on Tripadvisor.  You would be surprised at itinerary or excursion ideas you can learn from reading these reviews.  In addition, you are able to decide which private tour guide’s itinerary and touring style most resembles what you like in order to select the number one Tripadvisor guide for a private experience.

REMEMBER THERE IS LEISURE TIME EVEN ON A TOUR

It is easy to add a personal touch to a group tour and make the tour into your own experience.

If you have a special interest that is not included in a tour that you are considering, remember that there is leisure time.  You will have a free afternoon or two, and the tour company can tell you the hours you have free, and you can hire a private tour guide for a specialty interest.

During our Gate One Travel tour of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Scotland, we hired a private guide from Tripadvisor for an afternoon in Edinburgh for a walking tour of the UNESCO world heritage sites.  We hired a private guide in Dublin for an afternoon tour of the new UNESCO world heritage site, Newgrange, outside of Dublin. It was constructed 3200 BC and is arguably Europe’s finest example of a megalithic passage grave.  Newgrange passage tomb and ritual site is older than the Giza Pyramids in Cairo, and Stonehenge.

Creating your own private tour experience is the subject of another post.  That is time consuming and labor intensive, but getting exactly what you want every minute of your travel experience is sometimes worth it.

In the meantime, you are well on your way as a retired or soon to be retired Boomer to begin your anticipated three years of travel with the tips above and reviewing posts on specific past experiences.

 

Joy,

 

Mema

 

 

 

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