travel passport.jpg

While travel has long been regarded as a great way to enjoy one's free time in retirement, a recent U.S. News article points out that seeing the world also provides health benefits ("Why Travel Leads to a Healthy Retirement," November 2014).


Here are some of the ways that visiting other places can improve your body and mind:

  1. Travel requires you to be physically active. Outdoor-focused vacations such as hiking or skiing are obvious examples, but even sightseeing likely encourages you to be more active than you are on an average day. This kind of exercise can lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and cancer.
  2. There are social rewards. Traveling in a group—whether it be family members or in a tour group—can help you strengthen social ties, which is proven to boost mental health and emotional wellness.
  3. It broadens the mind. The old cliché is supported by modern science: Travel offers real cognitive benefits. Navigating new places and cultures both stimulates and challenges the brain. Travel has even been linked to a lower risk of dementia later in life.


TIAA-CREF offers some tips for how to save for a vacation even when your budget is tight. Here are some key points:


  • Make travel part of your savings plan. If travel is a priority, you need to incorporate it into your savings plan and work toward your goal year-round—not just a few months prior to the trip. As such, you might need to sacrifice other expenses, such as eating out or frivolous shopping sprees. Research shows that saving for something, and paying for it in advance, makes it more enjoyable.
  • Figure out exactly how much you will spend. This may involve researching hotel and restaurant prices in advance. Budgeting for travel is not an exact science, though, and you should always give yourself a financial cushion. If you're going abroad, factor in the currency exchange rate: You may even choose your vacation spot based on the attractiveness of this rate.
  • Avoid getting into debt. As important as vacations are, you should generally reserve loans for things that may appreciate in value, such as your home. Only charge the vacation if you plan to pay it off quickly.
  • Staying local can be just as satisfying. There's nothing like an exotic getaway—but traveling abroad is generally more expensive. If your budget is tight, you may want to look closer to home when planning your next trip.


Is travel a big part of your retirement plans? Share with us!