Traveling is a popular activity for retirees to have on their bucket list. More and more retirees are making extensive use of the Internet and social media for planning trips and related activities but they can also benefit from these powerful tools during their vacation to get the most out of every journey. While they're away, they can remain in touch with friends and family; by keeping connected, they can even feel more peace of mind staying on vacation for a longer period of time.
Travel is One of the Best Retirement Activities
Whether you go traveling as a freestyle adventurer or as a member of a tour group is dependent on your personality, your sense of independence, and your confidence level. There are times when traveling in a tour group is the only way to experience a country and understand its history. If you are not comfortable traveling alone, taking a guided tour is an excellent way to experience a new city and it provides opportunities to meet and get to know fellow travelers as well.
I happen to like traveling, and my preference is to explore without a tour whenever possible. I'm sure this is in part because most of my professional career involved a lot of business travel, where I had to discover new places on my own. My advice to retirees who'd like to be freestyle travelers is to learn to strike out on your own and to interact with new people. . I see many baby boomers traveling in groups of four to eight people; they tend to stick together instead of reaching out to fellow travelers or locals. Meeting and exchanging conversations with people you don't know, especially local citizens, will enhance your understanding of the local customs and will likely lead to creating new lasting friendships.
Whether it is domestic or international travel, experiencing new places and meeting people from the area is an excellent way to stimulate anyone’s thinking process; it's also a terrific way to meet friendly and fascinating people. On a recently completed trip to Central America I netted a number of new acquaintances – one couple from the U.S. and three couples from other countries. An added perk of staying in touch with them is that I won't feel like such a stranger when I visit their cities.
Take More Time to See the World
One of the benefits of traveling after retirement versus taking a vacation from work is that you don't necessarily need to restrict the length of time of your stay. Using Internet tools, you can remotely support your personal business using online banking and bill payments. Make use of your ability to stay longer than the average week or two for greater deals on lodging. Increasing the length of your vacation also helps you to get to know the culture and people, something you could not do while you were employed.
In my travels, whether it is domestic or international, I notice that many retirees are traveling in greater numbers as freestyle adventurers. Successful travelers make extensive use of the Internet and social media sites to plan their trips from home. Collaborative social-media sites like TripAdvisers and VRBO (vacation rental by owners) obtain valuable feedback from patrons about an establishment. I like reviewing these sites before going on a trip to gather information from a variety of individuals. There was a time when the only reviews were from disgruntled travelers who would leave negative comments, but more and more people are voluntarily providing balanced and helpful reviews, without having an “axwe to grind.” Look closely for trends in these reviews; for instance, if a lot of different people are saying the same thing about a hotel's accommodations, it's likely that such a critical mass of opinion should carry weight when you make a decision about whether or not to book a room there.
Put the power of the Internet to use during your travel
The Internet is widely available regardless of where you travel and devices like tablets and smartphones allow for effective usage of this technology. By and large, many of the establishments offer free Internet access and Wi-Fi links to patrons, so the cost is minimal in most instances. Ten years ago, I traveled extensively in Australia and carried my 12-pound laptop to Internet bars and paid connection charges ranging from $8 to $12 per connection. Many times, I would be at locations with little to no Wi-Fi connection, since it was not as prevalent in use as it is today. I still travel with a laptop because of the need for a larger keyboard and a few applications I use for managing my business but my smartphone has all the functions to communicate and its size and weight is significantly more desirable for travel. Using a tablet or a smartphone is actually all that one needs to keep in touch during most trips. Be wary, however, of using the cell phone connection while away from your home town; roaming charges can be quite high especially on international destinations. I like to disable my cell phone option and just use WI-FI on these devices.
I recently completed a five-week trip to Central America and had free Internet where I stayed, and Wi-Fi was also available in most breakfast and lunch establishments. It is just an indication of how dominant the Internet has become and how excited people are about having access to it. The portability and ease of use of the tablet and smartphone in foreign countries Enhances the travel experience all over the world.
Sharing and communicating on the Internet over the last ten years has also changed significantly. In 2002, Internet usage was more awkward. I used to share pictures with my friends by posting them on a photo-hosting site. I was also required to send out an email to everyone along with my user name and password to let them know I had uploaded new photos. Today, using my smartphone, I can capture the photo and upload it directly to Facebook. Automatically a notification is sent to my friends that I've posted a new batch of photos. I can even use the Facebook app on my smartphone to make a call to my friends or family members via the Internet, thus reducing the need for exorbitant, international long-distance charges.
Retirees are able to enjoy their travel adventures more so now than at any time in the past, and they are able to share their experiences with other retirees. Traveling allows retirees the opportunity to meet new people from other parts of the world and they can keep connected to them through social media. This has become the best time to travel because our ability to network and communicate has never been so sophisticated – and so user-friendly. As you contemplate your next trip, think about how you can utilize technology to make your vacation as fun as possible. Being able to stay in touch with loved ones may be just the ticket – whether you're on the go in London, Paris, or Rome, or lounging on a tropical beach.
Ron Mercier is retired from his corporate career and currently blogs on topics concerning baby boomers and retirees. He is the developer of the Web site: Active Empty Nesters (http://www.activeemptynesters.com), which helps baby boomers and seniors to build local social networks and enjoy activities targeted for the 50+ population. He is also working on the Meetup.com Web site with a 50+ Active Social Group and he's recently developed a crowdsourcing group for retirees at www.retired-minds.com.
Mel is fulfilling his lifelong passion and dream, to sing a song...his way. When recently asked why he waited so long, he jokingly replied: "I was waiting for my voice to develop." Yeah, right Mel. Often joking around, he does have a serious side...when creating and performing his music. He went on to say: "I truly believe there is a time, a reason, and a season for everything. I hope to be an inspiration to everyone, and to show that it's never too late to fulfill your dreams. So, never look back, always look forward, and put your heart into everything you do."
Music is and always has been a passion of Mel's. A good way to sum up his thoughts relating to his music lies in a quote from the famous Greek philosopher Plato, who spoke these words over 2,300 years ago: "Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, gaiety and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form." The meaning of these words written so long ago haven't changed...they still apply today. This is Mel's philosophy as well.
Please take a moment to look over my site at www.melgibsonmusic.com