‘Retirement’ is the word that conjures up different images in the minds of countless workers.
Depending on their current view of work, of holidays and even the world around them, travel can be something that provides the impending retiree with a focus and a sense of optimism for this future stage in life.
A study from Merrill Lynch* says that retired baby boomers, on average, spend more on travel per year than any other age group.
Apart from finances, the desire and freedom to travel are the most common elements in the thoughts and discussions of many people considering future retirement.
Travel is the big dream for many impending retirees, the reward for a lifetime of hard work. The life experiences promised in our travel dreams for retirement seem less restrictive than the experiences offered by travel during annual or even long service leave from the workforce.
When we holiday from the workforce we usually have images of returning to work and these can be sobering thoughts! Retirement on the other hand can promise one long holiday, full of adventure and free from the daily compulsion to attend the office or workplace.
There must be a certain disconnect between the making of travel plans and the formulation and execution of a financial plan for expenses, such as travel during retirement.
Many people do not have this component as a specific element of their financial plan, however travel figures prominently in their retirement dreams. Budgeting and saving for travel in the lead- up to retirement can be most rewarding. There is a tangible goal and a certain prize factor for the experiences and lifestyle they want in retirement.
Dreaming of travel, be it by caravan or cruise ship, can provide purpose to retirement saving and has more meaning to some than achieving a general category of retirement comfort, as measured by community surveys. If travel can be a motivator to save then it should be used.
A positive view of life means there must always be something to look forward to; this for some can even mean just being grateful for having more time.
People can be motivated to travel with stress relief, relaxation, positive outlook, new friendships and social contacts and other health benefits as added bonuses. Travel and the new experiences and freedom it entails can also lead to greater long-term health benefits such as a stimulated and happier mind and body. But how can we help those people of limited financial means to also achieve their travel dreams.
As we all know, accommodation expenses are a huge component of travel costs. Hotels and rentals, along with costs associated with maintenance of the family home whilst away, can limit or even eliminate the travel dreams of the less resourceful in retirement.
Quite a few retirees today have found the ways and means of turning their family home into a travel resource. A few of our account based pensioners and perhaps many more, are today using their own homes as a financial resource for retirement travel and I don’t mean using a reverse mortgage.
Instead these couples house swap with people around the world. They stay for a few months in the one spot and experience a lifestyle by stepping into the life and home of the people they swap with.
Apart from their airfares and their usual food and entertainment costs they pay for little else. Many have expressed delight that someone was looking after their home while they were away.
When I asked how they could determine that the people that they were swapping with were trustworthy and would look after their home, they said that they used a reputable agency and for months prior to their travel they communicated over the internet and also saw references regarding their past house swapping experiences.
They did their research. They organise the house swap through a registered organisation which has stringent tests and requirements prior to approving clients for house swapping experiences.
One particular couple I spoke with recently said that they had been enjoying these experiences all over the world for the past 10 years and that it provided a very economic means of fulfilling their travel dreams, without the usual prohibitive travel costs for overseas accommodation.
Another couple who like to travel closer to home have solved some of the expenses of home ownership by house-sitting.
They do not own a home and are self- funded retirees who enjoy the freedom and life experiences that moving into a different community provides, albeit sometimes on a short term basis.
They recommend a number of house- sitting sites which charge a modest annual fee for membership.
The sitter applicants provide a profile, references, photos etc. and house- owners can also use the sites when looking for a sitter.
I spoke to these members a few months ago and two years into retirement, this great couple are still seeing much of Australia and are not ready to settle down and buy a home or rent on a permanent basis.
They opt for housesitting for stints of at least a few months in duration and are in high demand due to the references left by people who they have house-sat for in the past.
They are now actually getting ready to return to a home they have previously house-sat, whilst the now newly retired owners venture to uncharted territories overseas, experiencing their trip of a lifetime to celebrate retirement.
The world can be your oyster as your home is where your heart leads. Let’s hope your journey up to and through retirement can be a happy and fulfilling time, where you truly live your dreams.