December 17, 2017

Travel and Health: Balancing Our Wishes and Our Wallet

This is a topic I have written about before, but each time there are enough comments and follow up e-mails to tell me you are interested. So, travel and health is something that is important to discuss. 

Traveling is one of the joys of the satisfying retirement phase of your life. With few or no commitments to an employer and probably an empty nest, you have much greater freedom to pack up and go. No longer must you travel when everyone else does. Midweek departures or hitting the road while families with kids are tied to home are now possible. You don't have to join the crowds mid-summer at popular destinations. 

Of course, your own preferences, interests, retirement lifestyle and finances have a bearing on what your travel itinerary might look like. My wife and I like a combination of a big trips every few years mixed with a healthy dose of long weekends or several day-long excursions. Finding ways to spend part of each summer  out of the Phoenix heat is a never-ending quest.

We are healthy enough as I write this to not have many travel restrictions. Would I scuba dive like I used to? No. That is pretty strenuous. Would I agree to walk across Ireland? Maybe, depending on the accommodations at the end of each day (no tents!).

I prefer to avoid air travel simply because airlines have made that form of transport as legally close to torture as possible. But, to get to Hawaii or Europe for our river cruise next May means putting up with many hours in a metal tube. Actually, my first choice for long distance travel would be by train but Amtrak pulled out of Phoenix almost 20 years ago (how dumb was that?) so that isn't a viable option. That means we usually drive.

For Betty and me there are two major restrictions on our travel desires: our dog and our budget. A few weeks ago I revisited the idea of adding an RV back into our life, but that has faded as a possibility. We have found an excellent kennel that Bailey can tolerate for 2 weeks. 

So, the core issue is really one of health. At some point our physical state will begin to limit our travel options. That is as given. It could be something dramatic that changes our lifestyle completely. More likely it will be a gradual decline in physical strength and abilities. There may come a time when one of us is afraid to have the other in a foreign country where paying for medical care  or an emergency flight home is more of an issue. 

But, for now, none of these scenarios are in play. So, should we ignore our carefully planned budget for travel and "go for it" while we can? Should we do all we want even if we have to tap into savings and investments that weren't supposed to be for traveling? Should we live with the worn out carpeting or out-of-date bathroom sinks for another few years and put the money into trips? Will we look back at some point and kick ourselves for not having the experiences while we could? Or, will we second guess our decisions to put ourselves in a financial hole that may have serious consequences?

In our household, this is a debate without a firm answer. Overall, we are homebodies. We enjoy where we live and the people who fill our lives with happiness. We have a decently active schedule of church, volunteer, and social events most of the year. We buy tickets to Broadway shows that visit town, enjoy several Diamondback baseball games a year, like well-produced plays, and will attend a few concerts. I enjoy finding things to do in the area that are different and low cost.

Still, the call of the road is always there. Our wish list includes more cruises, a trip back to England and Ireland, and a visit to Paris. New Zealand beckons, as do several of the islands in the South Pacific. 

We have talked about taking a train trip across Canada, visiting Montreal and Quebec. Seeing the autumn colors in New England can't be beat. Time in Portland and the northern California coast is always a draw.

I guess the most important step is to prioritize this list. In that way, if a health issue arises we will have had the experiences most important to us. 

Then, we must decide how deeply to dig into our retirement fund to pay for this. The way we budget for vacations now is to save for a big, expensive trip by taking small, closer to home excursions for a few years. That approach will not work if we are serious about the bucket list type of travel listed above.


Me, contemplating my choices
So, where does that leave us? Betty and I are starting to play with the idea of being more aggressive in tapping our retirement resources to make some of these dreams come true. Then, our natural caution filter kicks in and says, but what if.......

If you were in my situation would you take the trips? Would you answer that some trips just aren't doable and we should live within our budget? Would you suggest we accept our homebody tendencies and be happy with our life the way it is?

I hope we have at least another 10-15 years to travel. Now, we just have to decide where and how best to pay for it.


58 comments:

  1. A very good friend takes the Greyhound to Flagstaff and boards the train from there. Sometimes her kids drive them up. She and her husband take the train to LA and catch the cruise from there to Hawaii/South America/ etc.. She is considering getting a sleeper and taking a train to the East Coast and doing Europe next
    year. She hates plane travel and all it involves. She can take her "stuff" with her. She says it takes as long on a train as overall a plane (with all of the wait time).
    We decided, right now, we don't need our 4% to live on, so we will use it to travel. We don't have a large bucket list. If you are as adventurous as your list I would think at least one big trip a year would be important. Putting big things off until your 70's make it a bit sketchy for "what if we get sick".

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    1. There is an Amtrak stop at a tiny station about 45 minutes south of Phoenix but the train comes through (if on time) at 4 in the morning! Still, trains have a pull on me. When we lived in Salt lake City many years ago I took trains to Seattle and LA on occasional business trips when I was tired of airplanes. It was wonderful.

      Betty and I are reaching the same conclusion about health and travel. Since we are content to be homebodies, if we have to cut back at some point that won't be a real problem.

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  2. I miss traveling that I did with my husband and after he died, I did a few trips with my brother and SIL. But now my brother's health is a concern and I have no one to travel with really. I'm not the type to go alone. I wish I was. And I too hate air travel. I so wish we had decent train travel in this country like Europe, but I know we never will. So that leaves a car and long hours getting somewhere and all those hectic interstates. Of course there are interesting back roads, but again, for me, it's the going alone. I have a girlfriend that would travel, but she is 15 years younger than me and is very active and I would slow her down. I'm past the hiking 5 miles etc. I know there are tours, but I like my own time and schedule. So...such is life.
    I'd say go..travel..at least one good one a year..maybe two. You just never know when you can't any longer.

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    1. It certainly would be easier if we came with a "best if used by" date so we knew how much time we had to be active. Unfortunately, God didn't build us that way.

      The solo travel issue that you raise, especially as we age, is one I hope generates some more comments because it is a problem for many.

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  3. My own plan is to travel a lot for the first 15 or so years of retirement, particularly the more challenging foreign travel I want to do (SE Asia, Africa, South and Central America, Eastern Europe), knowing that travel will naturally drop off as the limitations of age creep in. Once that occurs I hope to still spend time in "easier" places like California, Arizona, Hawaii and other US/Canada destinations. Thus if I were you I would "go for it" knowing that your travel budget is not sustainable long term but also knowing that you enjoy being homebodies and there will come a time when that is what you will do...

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    1. I think we can sustain a healthy travel budget for at least 5-7 years before we would need to reign things back in to calm our natural hesitancy about financial matters.

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  4. Will you look back and kick yourself for not having the experience while you could? I often use that as a barometer. I don't want to live with "I wish I had..." in my head. And it's true, at some point we can expect physical limitations that will impact our or other's travel experience. If not now, when? I think there's some element of budgeting for the "what ifs" in life. It's always good to do the anticipatory budgeting. I would rather take that money on a desired trip than to the grave.

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    1. Agreeing to a expensive European River cruise next May was a breakthrough moment for me. Will that lead to more major trips over the next few years? We will see.

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  5. Hi Bob, I recall that you posted a little while ago that you have more money now than you had when you first retired. I know some of that came through an inheritance but you must be aware that in the approximately 15 years since your business faded and you retired, money just isn’t the problem you imagined it might be.

    You ask “If you were in my situation would you take the trips?” We are and we do. Holiday travel was something that we had postponed all those years while raising a family and working too hard. Now at 64 we are retired and we have, as you say, no commitments to an employer and an empty nest, with the time to travel when and where we want. This is something we dreamed of for our retirement although we had no firm plans where and quite honestly it was all a bit vague until we were retired and had to seriously consider what we wanted to do.

    Even though it was planned as part of our retirement from time to time I still worry about spending the money but then I remind myself “in 16 years I’ll be 80”. People do travel in their 80s but as you also say “the core issue is really one of health”. When I recall my grandparents in retirement and my parents now, around the age of 80 limitations of the “gradual decline in physical strength and abilities” meant that almost any sort of travel was something they just didn’t want to put effort into. They were quite happy to spend time putting around the house and keeping up with hobbies. Perhaps “been there, done that” became their reality.

    I also see that for both my and my wife’s parents and grandparents money was never a problem in their advanced years. It’s not like we are from wealthy or overly financially successful families, they were all just regular working people who saved what they could for retirement (no employer pensions either). In all honesty as they aged into their late-70s and beyond they spent less money with each passing year. Puttering around the house and keeping up with hobbies is just not that expensive. These days my parents are living on only their social security pensions and they don’t even spend all of that.

    Only you can decide if “going for it” is the right thing for you, however, if this is something you want to do then I doubt there is much holding you back except your own caution, and you may be a little over-cautious (see my first paragraph). For us we wanted to travel, see other cultures and world heritage, and if we don’t travel now then when? This goes back to my oft repeated saying: “When you are retired the future is now”.

    Regarding your question: "Would I agree to walk across Ireland? Maybe, depending on the accommodations at the end of each day".

    Our next European trip is an Ireland hiking holiday in June 2018. We are hiking with a company called Comfortable Hiking Holidays http://www.letshike.com/ and their motto “Hike an Adventure…Rest in Comfort” tells you what they are about – it might be right up your alley. It’s our first escorted holiday and is Canada based (so prices are in $CA) but I am sure there are many others to choose from. I’ll let you know how it goes but for now it’s the holiday season and then off to Mexico for the winter.

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    1. I appreciate your very thoughtful and detailed response. The fact that you are actually walking across Ireland is a nice dash of synchronicity.

      One decision Betty and I have made is we want to leave a decent inheritance for our two daughters. We know they will not be able to save as much as we did nor are their retirement prospects as clear. So, that is one self-imposed limitation on spending. That said, both girls urge us to spend what we want now. So, we have a green light. We see a yellow proceed with caution light!

      Yes, our various retirement accounts are increasing so far. When Betty starts getting spousal Social Security checks in 2019 that money can go directly to travel for a few years.

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    2. From the sounds of it Bob I don't think there's any reason to think you'll put yourself in a serious financial hole you can't get out of.

      I was saying to my wife that I think the problem with actually spending the money we saved for retirement is that this is the 401k generation (RRSP in Canada). Employer pensions are non-existent for most which leaves us 100% responsible if our retirement spending plan doesn't quite work out. Few among us had a career planning retirement income streams and now we are out on our own trying to do a job we were never trained to do. Given that we are untrained we are nervous and err on the side of being overcautious when it comes to spending, especially on ourselves.

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  6. Hi Bob! Another provocative question! My husband and I are not yet retired but we are what I called semi-retired in that we have a great deal of flexibility about time off. With that said, we are doing what active travel we can now while we are relatively young, in good health, and still have good income coming in to help finance. That's important because both of us are quite tall and not thin (thankfully not overweight either) but that means that airplane rides beyond the U.S. almost always require business class tickets. We were fortunate for years to be able to use reward miles to purchase them, but the last couple of years we've had to bite the bullet and pay for them. Of course, I am a super planner so I shop the best deals for both the airline prices (as far in advance as possible) and then do most of the travel planning myself. For example, two years ago we flew business class to Egypt, spent three weeks, cruised the nile, was escorted by guides the entire way that I arranged myself, and spent only about $15,000. That is about 1/2 what other people spend for the type of vacation we had. With that said, I strongly believe that I want to continue to travel and experience international travel for as long as we are healthy and continue to have the resources. I personally believe we can wait and do cruise ships and trains when we are in our 90s. For now, active and adventurous trips are taking priority. Of course we are all different so what appeals to one might not work for another. Good luck on your choices! ~Kathy

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    1. We did spend some extra on the flight to and from Phoenix and London next spring for premium economy. In theory that is more legroom and full meals. Of course, the flight is a red eye so hopefully we will be asleep for part of it. I will be interested in seeing if the extra money was worth it.

      As a heavy business traveler during my day we had enough miles for two trips to Hawaii and two First Class round trips to England. Those miles are long gone but FC was fabulous!

      That is a tremendous deal for the Egyptian trip. I may have you book our next long distance jaunt!

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    2. I'm always happy to share things I picked up along the way. Just let me know if I can be of any help. And I'll bet you will be happy with the premium economy too....trying to sleep when cramped in there like sardines is almost impossible.

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  7. Interestingly, my wife and I were coming home after watching one of our granddaughters in the Dock Street theatre production of A Christmas Story, and we started to have the exact same discussion. We came to the same conclusion, travel now, house later.

    While we have zero desire to travel overseas now, we will travel this continent more frequently. We love long weekend trips Thurs-Sunday. We can travel pretty far within this parameter although we prefer to stay off the Interstates (hours of boredom-seconds of terror) and thus travel the old “blue highways”

    We are flying to CA in April to go to Carmel and Mendocino for 2 weeks with brother and his wife and Phoenix when daughter and her family set a date for us to visit.

    We just put in book shelves in wife’s aerie, wooden steps to go upstairs to get there and new faucets in 2 bathrooms plus new glass shower door etc in main bathroom.
    So we are doing both as money is holding out.

    We have a “ little brown purse” where we stuff our extra cash to be used for travel. We have been doing pretty good.

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    1. I really don't like long airplane flights. But, living in Phoenix means we have no choice if Europe is the destination. One option is to fly to New York City, spend a few days enjoying the Big Apple, and then have only a 5 hour flight to London. More expensive, yes, but easier on our bodies and NYC is a city we haven't spent time in for years.

      We put about $6,000 into the backyard this year. I am quite content to wait on other house stuff for now and deal with it later. Betty may have another opinion!

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  8. While reading the comments I kept wondering if you or someone else would mention your desire to leave your daughters an inheritance, and I'm glad to see it came up. I suppose our opinions are formed by our experiences in life, and since you were fortunate enough to have received a sizable inheritance it's natural for you to want to pay it forward. With that said, it does seem to be a luxury many, if not most, can not afford, while many others, (warren buffet comes to mind) feel their children should make their own way. Whatever camp you pitch your tent in, it's important to keep everything in perspective I suspect you have the means to do just about anything you want, within reason, but your conservative outlook regarding money is holding you back. It's hard to put that aside and go for it, and only you can decide if the decision to travel more will be emotionally worth it to you. Our children don't stop becoming our children just because they're adults. It's natural to want to 'take care of them', but if you were my father I'd feel guilty if you deprived yourself of anything just so you could leave me money. It sounds like your daughters feel the same way. Balance is key.

    The reader who commented about traveling alone should try it just once. There are many groups that cater to solo travelers, but even still. I've never heard anyone say they regretted it. I spent five days in Bali alone, and i noticed I was more open to meeting people and fun adventures that I otherwise might have passed by.

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    1. Doreen, I agree with you about the inheritance but it's such a personal decision that I doubt any of us would fault someone for whichever way they decide. That's probably why no one takes it up as a discussion point. I'm on the side of children should look after themselves, however, I'd also hate to leave them nothing at all. I suppose my main goal is not to be a burden and anything after that is good fortune for them. I'll have to see how it turns out.

      I also agree with your comment about solo travelling. I did some of that decades ago when I was in my 20s and took me to places that I haven't had the chance to return to since. While it's possibly easier to have a travelling companion it's not essential and it does open you to new experiences and friendships. People are surprisingly open and welcoming when you give them a chance.

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    2. Doreen,

      I will echo both of ddavidson's thoughts. Yes, my parents left me and my brothers with a nice boost to our retirement finances. If I can do the same for our daughters without cutting my life experiences short I will do so. It is a very personal decision and I understand both sides of the discussion.

      Thanks for both of you for your supportive comments about solo travel from Mary above. I know there are a lot of travel organizations just for solos of all age groups. Some involve plane flights, some buses and some a combination. I hope she takes a look at what is available. Some are even set up so there are lots of private time to explore on one's own.

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  9. If you and Betty decide to do a Canada trip that includes Edmonton, get in touch and I would be delighted to show you around my fine town. By the way, the USD goes 30% further up here in Canada now.

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    1. Thanks for the invite, Gerry. I noticed the real price difference when I looked at the cost of a train trip from Vancouver to Toronto..there was about an $1,800 difference when figured in USD versus Canadian dollars.

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  10. I've watched cruise ship travel for a couple of years. Will be spending 20 days or so at least one direction to/from west coast US to New Zealand/Australia. Fares about $2200. Advantage is adapting to time changes one hour at a time, seeing other islands (Fiji, Tahiti, etc) and not any more expensive than business or premium airfare. Just the time. But where I live it's fairly easy to rent out one's home to those from Arizona or elsewhere while I'm gone. (no pet for me just yet)

    I've also done home exchanges in the past so it becomes less expensive and more comfortable to be gone.

    Former tenants always took transatlantic cruise home after their trip to relax after the main attraction and the hustle

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    1. My choice for a trip to New Zealand and/or the South Pacific would be a cruise, too. Flying over all those beautiful islands and water, probably at night, would seem like a waste of visual beauty.

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  11. As for single travel, ladies especially, look into various groups for women - 5W based in Britain, Womens travel group and solo traveler. I've also made friends in various local clubs and do a bit of traveling with those I meet there. It takes a bit of work to meet people but it's worth it to have companion on trips, or simply a friendly face.

    There is also a group that travels and does homestays, Friendship Force. This is combination of solos and couples but you are somewhat matched with another solo person if you want.

    And RoadScholar can sometimes arrange roommates. Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) and Grand Circle Travel accommodate single travelers in small groups. A friend of mine has made several travel friends on her trips. And arranged 2nd trips with new friends.

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    1. That is excellent information for solo travelers. Thanks! I hope Mary from above and others check out the companies you mention.

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  12. I am one of those who travels as a single, not with a group. It is my preference, although if I were to return to Europe I would certainly search out some groups along the way. I have a good church friend who is single who is in India as we speak and she swears that she meets more people and has more interactions when she travels alone-and I tend to agree. So I also would encourage the reader far above (mary?) to consider solo travel-and not just with groups of other singles. In my personal experience the biggest issue is getting past dining in a nice restaurant alone-which isn't hard. Once you get past that one........

    As to travel, I think it's a personal adjustment on the money thing. This is one of those discussions where im thrilled to be in the "yes I have a pension and my social security crowd" Sure I have to bdget, but I do not have to manage for the long term-which is great becaue I would be extremely poor at it.

    It's also worth mentioning that I think most people make travel more expensive than it needs to be-and I say that as a woman who loves gourmet food and will never camp again!

    Trainwise, Im not sure why you lost Amtrak. My one month train trip will stop at Marcopa and I will explore the Tuscon area and go further afield. Having said that, Janette is right-you probably dont even need Greyhound. My trip route shows easy connections to Phoenix from that stop. And buses are not what they used to be.

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    1. Tucson's Amtrak station is right downtown so it is convenient for sight seeing. The Maricopa stop is just a double wide trailer in a gravel parking lot. If no one is getting on or off I doubt the train even slows down.

      Amtrak will bus you from Phoenix to Flagstaff as part of the rail fare. or, we can drive up in a little under 3 hours, but that would mean leaving the car and having to return by way of Flagstaff.

      I am pleased you and others are adding to the solo travel discussion. I was under the impression that solo travelers were well taken care of. I guess it is just getting over the fear of taking that first step.

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  13. People like yourself and myself spent a lifetime doing the "right thing" financially, Bob, and it can be a struggle to break that mold of save/don't spend. I have learned to loosen things up since retirement, not in a huge way, but a measured, reasonable way that allows us to have a lot of fun traveling without breaking the bank.

    Most people, even in retirement, travel the way they did when they were working with limited time. A week here or there usually at some expensive locale, with expensive meals and the like. We took a different approach of taking off every winter for three months for our "big" trip of the year (we are into our first week here in FL), together with some smaller trips periodically through the year. Granted we bit the bullet and got into the timeshare area, but after that was paid for we are now able to go 4-5 months on the road. When we look at our costs during these three months of living on the oceanfront they are less than one thinks. Yes we go out some but since we have full kitchens we also buy groceries just like we would at home. We turn off the water at our now vacated home, put the heat down to 58, pull the plug on electrical draining devices, cancel TV services and the like, and kick back in FL and SC, making it seem like we are far away from home in TN. When I add up our expenses at the end of the trip, minus our savings by doing what we did at our house, it can be closer to a wash than you think.

    I am friends with people who travel around the world at little cost, have done it for decades, and are in their 60s still going strong. They don't deprive themselves but just are sticklers for deals. The bottom line, my friend, is go for it. You and Betty are smart people financially and can have lots of experiences without breaking the bank. I wish you the best.

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    1. You highlight an important part of the decision: spending time to find the best deals. I will admit I don't do enough of that. Yes, our Viking cruise in Europe offered steep discounts on the cabin costs and air fare. But, by the time I added on upgraded seating, travel insurance, and excursions, any "savings' were gone - which I am sure is Viking's game plan.

      Traveling during shoulder seasons and really making use of the Internet for deals must become a new skill of mine.

      BTW, we had 2-3 weeks of time share on the West Coast of Florida for almost 20 years. It was something we looked forward to each year until air travel became such a hassle. Phoenix to Sarasota and back is a long haul. So, we sold the weeks but really feel it was a good investment in our family's history.

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  14. Bob,

    I will echo some of the ideas expressed here, with a twist.

    As I have shared before, my travel is constrained by the care of my elderly father, but not curtailed. I can get the assistance of my sister to fill in once or twice a year and that is when I travel, and usually travel BIG! I go for quality, not quantity. What does that mean? One, or perhaps two trips per year instead of a few, and consolidating the money I would spend on a number of trips into a single high quality experience or maybe two.

    Retirement lends some flexibility to travel and I think we need to learn to leverage it. I monitor airline fares via the internet, and I am often surprised at the deals that emerge--especially on short notice--and in off-season. This has allowed me to fly first class on airlines (thus mitigating some of the travel torture) rather than coach. Yes, $900.00 for a ticket from the west coast to Hawaii seems exorbitant, but I am a big guy, and traveling in comfort, being pampered a bit, not dreading the whole experience and arriving rested and ready is worth it... at least to me.

    I also take advantage of a road trip with airline travel. Two years ago there was an extremely cheap first class fare on Hawaiian Airlines out of Oakland, California. I grabbed it, hopped in the car and drove from Oregon to Oakland several days before my scheduled departure. I found some lodging deals online, and enjoyed the Bay Area for a couple of days before my flight. I worked out a much cheaper deal to leave my car at the hotel compared to the airport during my travels, and took the hotel shuttle to the airport and back to the hotel upon my return. I sort of had two vacations in one.

    I think we need to take advantage of the freedom and flexibility of retirement and maybe opt for quality rather than quantity. At least that is my philosophy for now...

    Rick in Oregon

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    1. Some good ideas, Rick. I read a story not long ago about the growing business for hotels near an airport offering the parking deals you mention.

      You echo comments above about looking for last minute deals. We have always planned months (or years) in advance, thereby missing the types of deals you are mentioning. That should change.

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  15. Betty and I do have plans to take the entire family on a group vacation in 2019 to a special place the grandkids will absolutely fall in love with along with the adults! I can't be more specific because my grandson occasionally reads this blog, but it will be a trip that will create memories for a lifetime.

    While the grandchildren are still young enough this type of family trip is worth every penny to us.

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  16. I have taken train trips from Mississippi to Salt Lake City (via Chicago) on sleeper cars. I love them. The scenery between Denver and Salt Lake was gorgeous on the California Zephr! The food was the best on the New Orleans train (of course)! Yes, it was expensive, but I certainly enjoyed it, and the food!

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    1. All these positive train comments have my whistle whetted. Trains are never on time but if you don't have to be somewhere at a particular time, so what?

      And, yes, I know of the Amtrak crash this morning near Tacoma, but train travel is very safe.

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    2. Yes, that crash is tragic, but rare. The trains are always late, and that was part of the fun of it. I did not have to drive. I did not have to deal with airports. The railroad terminal in Chicago is gorgeous, and those in sleeper cars go directly to first class lounge, so no long line.There are great restaurants in the terminal in Chicago, and I just enjoyed my trips so much. I spoke with other passengers in the lounge, and a lot of folks our age travel by trains because of how unpleasant air travel has become. I feel train travel is a very dignified way to travel...lol

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    3. Does the motion ever bother you as in motion sickness? I've always wanted to do the cross Canada trip, but my parents did this years ago and my Dad complained about the food.

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    4. No, and I get motion sickness on a plane. The food was fantastic on the New Orleans train (the one from New Orleans to Chicago). It was good on the California Zephr. I have been four times (or two round trip) and loved it. It is true about the delays though. There was a long wait at the Chicago terminal between my connection from the New Orleans train to the California Zephr so it did not bother me.

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    5. Meant to ask if there is wifi on the train?

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  17. We have also had the health vs travel discussion this year. And we are going to travel while we can - within limits, of course. We did two weeks in Italy this fall, and I agree with others that doing your own research and planning can pay big dividends. I spent a lot of time reading books, websites and doing comparisons so we got just what we wanted re: hotels, tours, etc. Like you, Bob, we paid to upgrade to Comfort Plus on the long haul flights (US to Europe both ways) and I think it was well worth it. There is no way we would fly in the cramped seats of coach for hours without coming out the other end in pain for days.

    Which leads to my other thought. Travel is definitely more challenging than it used to be, both because of the airlines and their margins and because we are aging. We can both see that we won't want to do the strenuous trips forever, and right now we feel fine. So the things on the top of our bucket list are worth using some savings to see. And I'm happy to say we agree on that. Most days. Haha.

    --Hope

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    1. Betty and I are on the same (budget) page in this regard. In fact, she pushes harder for these trips than I do.

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  18. As I am alone, I am happy to see all the encouraging words on solo traveling. As to your question, I think if you really long to do something you should do it while you can. Your life can change completely in one second. Why wait? If you know in your heart that you want to go on a special trip do it. Sometimes when we wait we may wait too long and be unable to do it. Better not to have any regrets. The odds are that you will still be able to leave an inheritance for your children. Impossible to predict the future anyway no matter what you do.

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    1. Putting things off until tomorrow is always a risky way to live, and especially as we age. You are right, Donna. If not now, maybe never.

      I'm glad there have been several comments about solo travel. It is an important subject.

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  19. I thought about your column when I heard on the nightly news today about the Amtrak accident outside Seattle, but I had already thought about it when the Atlanta airport went dark this weekend.

    As far as air travel in general, I was almost in awe how wonderfully customer oriented and efficient the Calgary International Airport (Canada) was when I came through there this Fall on a Roadscholar tour. I was less than impressed with the snarly attitude of some American Airline employees on my round trip flights, including that somehow my luggage did not get properly transferred in Dallas on the trip back, so that at midnight I was the lone passenger still staring at the luggage belt at my home airport, somehow hoping my bag would miraculously appear, long after everyone else had left. It took me about half an hour to even find a "lost bag" American Airlines personnel to help me, and the only way I finally got them was by getting someone at United to find one for me! Because of this I missed the first long term parking shuttle and almost missed the second one 45 minutes later because an airport employee, overly engrossed in his cell phone--who I kept shouting at to "please hold the shuttle bus"--only half-heartedly looked up and did NOTHING to help me, even though he was 10 feet away from the shuttle and I was still 100 yards away running as best I could (with two artificial knees) to get to it before it pulled away, which would have meant another 45 minute wait. I have a 2 hour drive home from the airport so these delays put me alone on deserted country roads much later than I like! Canada was glorious though, and I too would love to do a cross country Canada trip, but right now I'm lacking the fortitude for another trip involving flying!

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    1. I know! I used to fly 100,000 miles a year on business for almost two decades and racked up 1 million miles just on Delta. Today I try to avoid flying an hour to San Diego.

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  20. I'm 1 month into retirement and through the previous decade, our love of the St. Lawrence River, and our desire to take our family vacation the second or third week in July combined to find us in 1000 Islands every year at vacation time.

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    1. My wife has been to the 1000 islands region and tells me how magnificent it is. Amazingly, I lived in Upstate New York for 6 years and have never been there.

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  21. We're now getting ready to take 4 days to drive to Florida for 3 weeks and taking the same amount of time to drive back to New York, just because we can. No desire to travel internationally or to fly anywhere. Sorry for the 2 installments.

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    1. Maybe I should have a post where people just get to share flying horror stories. I imagine I would get a lot of comments.

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    2. Here is a photo of the coach class seating on a United DC-6 in the 1950's. We have given up a lot of comfort for cheap airfares and speed. Err... people were decidedly "smaller" then, too. :)

      https://www.westin553.net/propFoto01/idc6-2.jpg

      Rick in Oregon

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  22. Bob.....sometimes I wish you had white background with black print...maybe it's just my old eyes.😊

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    1. How is this? Betty has made the same comment several times. Black on white is easier to read. I will live with it for awhile and see what others think.

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  23. I like it, a lot, but others may not and after all it's your blog😊😊

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  24. I don't really care for the color change. Too stark and too much glare. And for some reason a bit amateurish.. not sure why. But that's just me. As Mary says, it's your blog.

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  25. I'm starting my second year of retirement and am happy to say my wife and I have managed to travel over two months during 2017. Trips included a Road Scholar tour to Egypt (our first tour) and five weeks of independent travel in Europe (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Russia, and Germany). Also a road trip from the Midwest to Washington and Colorado. All our trips this year were great, and we intend to travel as much as we can, while we can. I've seen friends suddenly lose mobility, capacity for exertion, and had friends die this year. I don't want to waste a moment.

    Now that said, we've always been travelers. One trip to England in '79, trips all over the US while raising our kids, and about 8 trips overseas during the last 15 years of my career. So we know the value - for us - of travel and it's a deep love of ours and I've never regretted a nickel or minute spent. Problems that arise are usually just good stories to tell when we get home. I imagine people who choose to, or have to, wait till they retire to travel may find it difficult or disappointing; maybe it's just not your thing. My point is, if you're a "pre-retiree" who thinks of travel as something you'll do when you retire, try it now. You'll get some experience and learn what you like and don't like. It also might be easier to learn to adjust to the little inconveniences that arise when you're a bit younger.

    A tip: if you're going to Europe for the first time (or 10th), Rick Steves is your new best friend. Especially till you learn what you like to see and do (e.g., for us art is very important and food not so much).

    And a comment on air travel: I know there are problems, especially back in the cheap seats, but I try to remind myself, "I spent damn near 40 years in a cubicle looking at a computer monitor for 8 or 9 hours a day -- and I'd sure rather be on a plane to or from Europe for the same number of hours!"

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    1. Great point about the number of hours flying...it is a tiny part of the overall experience. I'll keep reminding myself of that when I board the plane in Phoenix for the flight to Heathrow!

      Thanks for mentioning Rick Steves. We enjoy his TV shows a lot and read a few of his books before our trip to Ireland.

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  26. I would like to do more international travel now that I have retired. But Rob is not very enthusiastic about it, for the same reason that you mention - he hates the stress of air travel and the crowds in airports. Once we get to our destination though, he always loves the travel experience. He has a good friend in Northern Europe that he wants to visit, so maybe he will put up with a flight in order to do that trip.

    Jude

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    1. Rob and I should be sitting in aisle seats across from each other so we can lend encouragement and occasionally complain about something!

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