Boomer Bytes #14: Here We Go A Wandering…

Published Friday, April 25, 2014 at 10:48 am

Editor’s Note: Below is another column in Steve Canipe series called Boomer Bytes. The column, as the title suggests, will focus on a variety of topics that may be of interest to baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964. But Canipe also hopes to start a conversation with younger generations, too. Check out an introduction and Canipe’s (first self-titled) column here.

  • See second column – Are We Really Old? – here.
  • See third column – Cars and More Cars – here.
  • See fourth column – Getting Educated – here.
  • See fifth column – Home Alone? – here.
  • See sixth column – Death – here.
  • See seventh column – They’re Playing Our Song – here.
  • See eighth column – Driving: Knowing When To Quit – here.
  • See ninth column – Hobbies: What’s Your Favorite – here.
  • See 10th column – ‘The Last of Life, for which the First was Made’ – here.
  • See 11th column – Volunteeering – here.
  • See 12th column – Duck and Cover – here.
  • See 13th column –  Providing for the Future – here.

Here We Go A Wandering…

By Steve Canipe

April 18, 2014. It has seemed almost a tradition that with retirement comes travel.  With the better health of boomers will we be traveling more than our parents and grandparents? Will we really be a lot different in our travel habits than our forebearers?

 

I grew up in a small rural community north and west of Charlotte.  My grandparents probably never traveled more than 100 miles from where they were born.  My parents were a little better but not much.

 

Before I went to college, the sum total of my travel had been as far north as the Virginia border; as far east as the Atlantic Ocean (Myrtle Beach); as far west as Knoxville, TN; and as far south as Miami, FL. Wow — what a limited life I had led.

 

Canipe

Canipe

I should have said my physical travel was only to the places I mentioned.  I poured over travel books and magazines and dreamed of places I wanted to see.  Probably little wonder that I took every opportunity to travel once I was old enough to make my own decisions.  When I enrolled at Appalachian State in 1964, I was surprised that so many of my classmates had done a great deal more traveling than me and was also surprised that some had done no more or even less than I had.

 

Being the impulsive type, some buddies and I on a Saturday decided to drive to West Virginia…it was less than 100 miles.  We went to the coal mining country around the little village of War. During my college years, I was also fortunate to be able to go with a roommate to his hometown- Washington, DC.  So I did some travel but still minimal — but these few trips stoked my desire to travel even more.

 

One would think that when I had a job and money that I would really go on a travel spree.  Unfortunately, I was teaching and the money was not great.  I took every opportunity to travel and did get a chance to go to several places including being a chaperone on a 30 day camping trip all the way to California with 35 high school students.

 

As I got married and had kids, I was determined that I would not hamper their experiences by staying in a narrow radius of home. I find travel and the experience with different cultures so educational.  Before our kids were out of elementary school they had been to 48 of the 50 states, several Canadian provinces, and one Mexican state. What will their travel be like when they retire?

 

ABC News reported late last year that retirees are skipping the settling down and are living internationally.  One couple has lived in nine countries and have no intention of settling in one right now.  More Americans are electing to live abroad.  If traveling to places like Costa Rica, Panama, or Mexico, you might find a large community of American ex-pats. One of the primary reasons, as noted by one of the globetrotters, is that expenses are less than half what they are in the United States.

 

There are numerous ways to travel and see the world.  In the Huffington Post there was a listing of some ways to enjoy the excitement of travel. Tops in this list are: * Glamping (a hybrid word that stands for glamorous camping); * Voluntourism can be any kind of volunteer trip; *The golden gap year is like the gap year that graduating students take before setting off for college or to join the work world; * Learning-vacations abroad; * International house-sitting; *Taking a sacred journey is a way to travel and explore your spirituality;  and * The let’s-chuck-it-all-and-see-the-world. The Huffington Post link explains each of these options in more detail.

 

Maybe none of these are appropriate for you and your desire to see something outside your home base.  My sister often said that she never wanted to travel outside Lincoln County, NC.  And by the time she passed away at 78, she had rarely traveled outside the state of NC.  It was only a military daughter and her family that caused my sis to travel to Maryland, Colorado, Alabama, and Kentucky. She would have been content to stay 25 miles from where she lived; just like our grandparents!

 

There is nothing wrong with staying close to home, but also there is nothing wrong with wanting to travel and see the wonders of the world. As happy as she was to stay close to home — I was happy to be away.  I have been able to translate my desire for “awayness” for travel to all 50 states, all 7 continents, and more than 30 different countries. Later columns will focus on some of the most memorable trips and what I experienced and learned.

 

My wife and I travel with several companies that are focused on the more mature traveler.  In talking with our age-group on these trips, we think that research recently reported by Benefits Pro is on target. What this December 2013 survey found is that 59% of us desire to travel during retirement; 69 % say that travel is an important reason to be saving. But only 44 % have done anything toward creating a retirement travel savings plan and only 15 % have placed a high priority on travel savings.  The study found that a mere 18% have factored travel into their financial retirement planning.

 

So why the disconnect? Perhaps it is the widely reported fact that retirees are not saving enough for any post-work activity.   For older boomers, it might be a little too late to do much in creating a travel nest egg but for those boomers who are the youngest (those turning 50 this year) it is not too late.

 

My parents and grandparents notwithstanding, the research by Benefits Pro show some remarkable reasons to be traveling as we age.  The survey found that “…those who travel are significantly more satisfied in mood and outlook compared to those who do not travel, 86 percent compared to 75 percent. It also found that 77 percent of Americans who travel report satisfaction with their physical health and well-being while only 61 percent of those who do not travel say the same. Many of the health benefits of travel stem from all of the walking … Meeting new people, learning about new cultures and navigating around new places can help delay the onset of degenerative disease.”

 

Work reported in the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch is even more explicit in the benefits.  Visit the site to see exactly how travel leads to better health. One startling statistic in this report is that a “…nine-year study found that annual vacations reduced the risk of death from any cause, and specifically death from heart disease, in a group of men at high risk for coronary heart disease.” Women’s positive health effects, which are shown in a 20 year study looking at frequency of vacations, are equally startling.

 

A report in Time in December 2013 goes even further and says that travel is not part of a retirement plan but a health plan. Does this mean we should consider travel just as we consider paying for our medications and trips to the doctor?

 

With these moderating effects on our health, why wouldn’t every boomer-aged person start making travel plans?  If travel is not fun or if there are serious health issues, travel can lead to increased stress, which is not good.  Being willing and looking forward to travel might be due to our earlier attitudes and experiences; however, it is never too late to try traveling.

 

The Time article referenced earlier notes that for working Americans of all ages 60% want to travel in retirement.  Post retirement this figure jumps to 80%.  Maybe we are recognizing the benefits of travel and will not be like my parents and grandparents, or probably most of yours.

 

Let me hear from you about your experiences with travel or your planning to go a wandering.  Do you feel better during and after travel?  Send your thoughts, either via email at [email protected] or post them at the end of the column. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

 

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