At Ally Bank, we believe retirement can be a time to discover an enjoyable, new way of life. In our recent survey with Kiplinger, we asked how people plan to spend these years. Not surprisingly, 77% of those surveyed said they hope to travel, which was the number one response. But the data showed that travel was just the tip of the iceberg. Pursuing a hobby or passion, volunteering and even working part-time were also activities that respondents hoped to pursue in retirement.
With these results in mind, we wanted to explore how people could combine their passion for travel with some of these other activities. How might you be able to pursue a hobby while you travel? Or volunteer abroad? Or even find work while touring a new country?
We spoke with Rachel L. Sheedy, Managing Editor of Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, to uncover some interesting opportunities that may inspire you to pursue your retirement goals…while you travel.
Pursuing a Hobby or Passion While You Travel
Maybe you’d like to spend your retirement developing a new hobby, like learning an instrument or collecting first-edition books. Or perhaps you’d enjoy devoting more time to old passions, like discovering your family ancestry, baking delicious desserts or studying European history. Whatever hobby or passion you enjoy, pursuing it while you travel can bring the experience to the next level.
“If you have a particular hobby or passion, such as wildlife photography or food, do a search for group trips that focus on that interest,” says Sheedy.
If you have a passion for wine, for example, consider group trips abroad in places like Italy or France. If you’re passionate about your Irish family history, why not consider a group tour of Ireland?
“Foodies might want to consider a culinary tour, where you can take cooking classes from local chefs and cooks in places like Morocco and Spain,” says Sheedy. “Check out the offerings from companies such as Creative Culinary Tours.
While traveling with a group isn’t necessary, it can offer you the chance to explore your hobbies and passions with likeminded travelers. It can also offer unique housing opportunities.
“If it’s a large group you might consider renting an apartment or house,” Sheedy says. “Or consider a house exchange—websites such as International Home Exchange and Homelink International can help you find a house swap.”
Volunteering While You Travel
If the idea of helping others in retirement appeals to you – and 64% of those surveyed told us it did – then you may want to consider ways to volunteer while you travel.
“You can find volunteer travel trips that last a few days or a few months,” Sheedy says. “Habitat for Humanity is one group that offers volunteer travel opportunities.”
It may also make sense to look for volunteer opportunities that could allow you to leverage the professional skills you developed in your career. “Retired executives should check out International Executive Services Corps,” says Sheedy. “[The organization] recruits retirees from various professional backgrounds and matches them with foreign companies.”
Sheedy also notes that retirees with a legal background may want to check out The International Senior Lawyers Project, which dispatches retired lawyers to foreign countries where they can advise non-profit groups on various legal matters.
Regardless of your professional background, there are plenty of opportunities to travel the world while lending a helping hand – especially if you’d enjoy teaching English. Sites like Idealist.org and Cross-Cultural Solutions both offer ongoing programs that can connect you with teaching opportunities (among many other fields) across the globe.
Working While You Travel
Just because you’re retiring doesn’t mean you’re done working, at least according to our survey. In fact, 63% of those surveyed report they plan to work part-time during retirement. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find unique opportunities to make a few extra dollars, especially if you’d like to travel while you work.
When looking for a job abroad, Sheedy suggests you consider “consulting for a former employer in the U.S.” Not only can this help you get a foot in the door, but many companies can provide you with logistical support, like helping you with paperwork and acquiring a work visa.
“Look for jobs that need English speakers, such as working at hotels or giving tours to English-speaking travelers,” Sheedy adds. “Check out ExpatExchange, which has a job board.”
Wherever You Travel, Travel Smart
Wherever your passion, volunteering or part-time work takes you, it’s important to note a few logistical and savings considerations.
For starters, healthcare. If you’re traveling internationally, Sheedy suggests looking at the “quality of the health care system [of a particular country] and how close you’d be to the nearest hospital.” It’s important, Sheedy says, to note that Medicare “doesn’t cover you when you travel abroad, though some Medigap polices do.”
To ensure your health and safety on a big trip, Sheedy recommends you “check your medical coverage carefully and if you buy a policy for your trip, make sure it covers medical evacuations.” Sheedy adds that “travel insurance can be a good idea in case your plans change at the last minute; just make sure you understand the terms of the policy. To shop policies, check out InsureMyTrip.com”.
Last but not least, consider costs. International travel can be expensive, and even if you’ve saved enough money to travel well in retirement, it’s always smart to consider easy ways to reduce expenses.
“There are a bevy of websites, such as Airfarewatchdog, Kayak and Priceline, that can help you score a good deal on travel,” Sheedy says. “Travel in the shoulder seasons—late winter/early spring and fall.”
One final perk of traveling in retirement: discounts. “Traveling seniors should be sure to ask about AAA and AARP discounts, and whether a hotel offers any other senior discounts,” says Sheedy.
Do you plan to travel in retirement? What are some hobbies, volunteer and work opportunities you would enjoy pursuing while you travel?