Exploring the Reasons To Travel in Retirement

As the baby Boom generation continues its march into retirement, travel frequently comes up as a top priority. What is the allure of travel? Is it simply a way to fulfill a sense of wanderlust, or is there more to it? In this post, we’ll explore the reasons why travel holds such attraction as a retirement goal for those over 55.

Traveling to Relax

Seeking rest and rejuvenation is one of the biggest reasons we travel. How many of us in our nose-to-the-grindstone working days have had dreams of traveling during retirement? It’s an impulse to escape the mundane routines of everyday life to find a stress-free schedule and environment. It’s the break we need to set aside our day-to-day responsibilities and recharge our batteries.

Traveling for Better Weather

Escaping seasonal weather extremes is a big motivator for older adults. It might be heading for sunny warmth in the winter or retreating from the oppressive summer heat. This type of travel may be motivated by health concerns. For example, slipping on winter ice or risking exposure to infections from crowded indoor spaces are significant health risks for those over 55. In summer, fleeing to cooler climates allows for more outdoor activities and less risk of heat-induced illnesses.

Traveling to Tour

What is touring but an opportunity to see new places for yourself? They can be places in your own backyard or the far corners of the world. The big question for many travelers is whether to go it alone or book with a tour company. One compromise is to get your travel feet wet by going on an organized group tour. That way, you can learn firsthand what you’d like to do when you venture out on your own.

Traveling for Learning

Learning can be a lifelong pursuit. Yet, in our everyday environment, setting aside time to increase our knowledge is difficult. By incorporating learning into travel, we provide ourselves with the time, resources, and infrastructure for learning. The varieties of learning opportunities are vast.

Examples are:

  • Learning a language from native speakers
  • Exploring the history of an area with local experts
  • Assisting in an archeological dig with scientists
  • Experiencing the arts, cuisine, or other cultural hallmarks
  • Wildlife photography

Traveling for Adventure

Not all travel needs to be relaxing on a beach. If you’re physically able, an active experience in a stimulating environment can challenge both your body and mind. Trips can involve hiking, climbing, biking, sailing, rafting, or other vigorous modes of travel. Such adventures can range from easy to difficult and are available on every continent with everything from 5-star accommodations to sleeping outdoors under the stars.

Traveling to Experience Other Cultures

Trips to learn about how other humans live can lead to the expansion of our perspectives. This new-found knowledge about different cultures can positively challenge our opinions and attitudes so we can think more comprehensively. It also opens us to forging relationships across geographical and cultural boundaries which can only make the world a little better.

One growing option is traveling with the primary objective of experiencing local cuisine since food often is a defining part of a culture. The experience may include not only sampling different foods but also learning how to prepare native dishes.

Traveling to Serve

Some seek travel opportunities that allow them to support causes with direct action. The idea that you can provide service to others while meeting other travel goals has a powerful appeal. One way to find such opportunities is to ask organizations you already support if they have such volunteer roles available for travelers. Another way is to do research using online clearinghouses like goabroad.com or Kaya.com. No matter how you find a travel volunteer gig, carefully research the program to ensure it meets your expectations as an experience and delivers value to the cause you care about.

Traveling to Support Relationships

Traveling to support relationships can take two forms. First, traveling with one other person or many can lead to deeper bonds because of new, shared experiences. Of course, traveling with others can also lead to conflicts. To get the most out of traveling together, discuss expectations, budget, and planned activities before the trip. Allow yourselves the freedom not to be together all the time. Doing things of individual interest can be a way to have a satisfying combination of togetherness and alone time.

Another aspect of traveling to support relationships is visiting friends and family. This can be a great way to reinforce existing connections with loved ones living apart from us. Before going, however, discuss expectations with your hosts. For example, make sure it is clear where you’ll sleep and how much time everyone agrees to spend together. As the visitor, it’s important to remember you’ll be interrupting your host’s routine, so it pays to be sensitive to their needs.

Traveling Solo

Solo traveling for those 55+ has exploded, especially for women. Journeywoman.com noted that in a 2022 survey of tour operators, solo female travelers over 55 comprised 77% of their bookings. Traveling alone doesn’t mean you need to feel lonely. Experts recommend first trying a small group tour. This way, itinerary, transportation, and accommodations are handled by the tour operator. Also, many online resources like girlabouttheglobe.com have emerged to provide advice and report on the experiences of solo travelers.

Traveling for Wellness

Another trend gaining popularity is wellness travel. Such travel has been practiced for centuries. For example, mineral springs have been destinations for health benefits in many cultures. Today, wellness travel still includes some of those locations, but now the choices for health-oriented trips are numerous. At the same time, wellness need not be the sole objective of a trip. For instance, a traveler could devote a specific day to a spa treatment to relax during an otherwise busy tourist itinerary.

 Another aspect of wellness travel is “medical tourism,” which means traveling to another location specifically to receive medical care. Most often, this is associated with patients from countries with less sophisticated healthcare options traveling to medical centers of excellence in other countries. However, there are instances where patients from wealthy countries seek less-expensive care by traveling to medical facilities outside their national borders.


The reasons why we travel are diverse. Also, combinations of the above reasons are unique for each person. However, when you have a better handle on what motivates you to travel, the more insight you will have in planning satisfying travel experiences.

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