Editor’s note: this post was first published on Medium.
Travel is important at any time in life. Travel gets you out of your shell, your culture, your background, your self-imposed confines.
At a young age, travel exposes you to the world, whether across the state, across the country or around the globe.
Later in life, and particularly in retirement, time seems to speed up, to enter a different continuum. Travel seems more urgent, the experience is more alive and somehow, more profound.
The distance and the destination are not critical, it’s the fact that you’re doing it at all.
Travel in retirement keeps you sharp
You have lots of ways to spend your time and resources once you hit retirement. A trip is just one option. But it keeps you actively engaged in life’s “game.” Regardless of whether you choose a full package such as a tour or a cruise, or more independent travel, the dynamics are similar.
Travel takes you out of your comfort zone. It’s always about the new experience, even if it’s a place you’ve been to before. Travel is fresh, a dash of the unknown. In retirement, that’s an excellent thing. You didn’t retire to sit passively, did you? I didn’t think so.
Being out of your “comfort zone” doesn’t mean traipsing around the unknown. It just means putting a toe outside of your routine and widen the net of experience.
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
The upshot? Your comfort zone — the space you occupy in physical, mental and emotional states — just got bigger. Remember, there are no “foreign lands.”
Travel requires social and communication skills.
You need to interact with people you meet. That runs the gamut from service personnel, fellow travelers of your choosing or locals you meet along the way. You need to be able to communicate your needs and preferences. You’ll want to chat up your seat-mate on the tour, relive the day with your traveling companions (yes, even your spouse!), and discuss where-to next.
All this takes considerable cognitive power, social engagement and, sometimes, “attitude adjustment” (another term for patience).
Just keep your cool. You can do this. You’re not the old codger your children think you are.
Travel keeps you self-aware. When traveling you have a heightened awareness of your surroundings.
As the British-born author, Aldous Huxley famously said,
There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.
Travel in retirement is about keeping those “doors of perception” open, wide open, between the known and the unknown.
This is the best time of your life to explore your “unknowns.”
You have the luxury of unhurried time. It’s one of life’s greatest gifts.
Travel in retirement is a huge part of life-long learning
Life-long learning is not only huge, and travel in retirement makes it fun and actionable.
If you’ve researched your destination, figured out the best way to travel that suited your budget, interests, any limitations, that’s learning.
You can up your tech game: Did you learn at least a phrase in another language, thanks to an app like Duolingo? Did you download a travel app? Did you use Google Maps or some other direction-finding software to get from Point A to Point B?
What assumptions were challenged?
What did you come back knowing you didn’t know before? What “doors of perception” were opened as a result of your travel, or the preparation for it?
That’s life-long learning.
Travel in retirement gives you information and experiences to share.
Coming back from travel, you’re a different “you.” It’s nearly impossible to have a travel experience and not have something stick
Unless you’re like my Aunt Flo. She and Uncle Art traveled the world in retirement, thanks to his life-long career with United Air Lines.
She was the “Teflon traveler” because nothing, and I mean nothing, stuck.They would go on a whim, world-wide on trips with other United-retirees, and come back emotionally void from the experience.
“It was nice,” she’d say. But it didn’t penetrate, it didn’t stick. She didn’t feel it.
I am indebted to my aunt and uncle for my travel curiosity. They took me along on a tour to Scandinavia when I was 15, in the early 1960’s. By luck, some Australian girls my age were on the tour, too. We remained pen pals for decades, long before email. That interaction is still a sweet memory. It stuck.
Please don’t be like dear Aunt Flo. Make travel “stick.”
Let travel make you a more interesting person.
Travel doesn’t need to be far, or exotic. It needn’t be expensive. But the experience will make you a more interesting person. You’ll have more to talk about. Even pictures to share.
You’ll even have bragging rights.
And the best part? Travel in retirement emboldens you to do more.
So, where are you off to?