For many people, travel is more than a favourite hobby. It’s a yearning to want to go and see amazing new places, understand different cultures and maybe even learn a new language. Unfortunately, family commitments, career aspirations and mortgage obligations often get in the way. Life happens and that trip of a lifetime to inspirational destinations gets put on the back burner repeatedly.
Perhaps retirement is the perfect time to finally make the dream come true. After all, now that your full-time career has come to an end, you have all the time in the world at your disposal. What’s a few weeks or months away from home when there’s a whole planet out there just waiting to be explored?
In terms of your financial situation, you can now reap the benefits of many years’ careful retirement planning by starting to take your pension. You may have additional savings that can be dipped into to fund that senior adventure you are longing to go on. Many people take 25% tax-free lump sums from their workplace pension, private pension or state pension. Other funding options include equity release – accessing some of the cash tied up in your home while continuing to live there. Some even choose to downsize their homes.
Once you have a clear idea of the available travel budget, it’s time to choose where to go and to book your trip. This is the exciting bit! Perhaps you already have a destination in mind or a bucket list of places to tick off? Research carried out by luxury tour operators Club Med included ‘staying in a water bungalow in the Maldives’, ‘seeing the Northern Lights’, ‘snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef’ and ‘enjoying a helicopter ride and seeing the Grand Canyon’ in their list of Top 40 Holiday Experiences.
If you haven’t already decided on where to go and are looking for travel destination inspiration, here are 13 excellent suggestions (in no particular order) to get you in the zone for a far-flung adventure. You are most welcome.
1. See the Big Five, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger National Park is one of the country’s largest game reserves covering some 12,500 square miles. It’s the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the increasingly rare African ‘Big Five’ – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo – in all their wild and wonderful glory.
2. Visit the Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Listed as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal was built in 1648 as an enduring symbol of love and a fitting representation of the great Mughal Empire. Visit at sunset and watch the majestic shimmering beauty shift colours in the golden light.
3. Drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, USA
Hire a convertible and take to the wide-open roads of the Californian coast on this iconic road trip. Go south from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge along the twist and turns of the hill-hugging road to take in spectacular coastal views, forests and even elephant seals.
4. Walk along the Great Wall of China
Another bucket list must-do, the Great Wall of China is more than 13,000 miles long and some 2,300 years old. Contrary to urban myth, the structure is not visible from space, but standing close-up in the shadow of its grandeur is an unforgettable experience.
5. Explore New England in the autumn, USA
It’s the climate and the terrain with its old farms and red barns, and the spectacular autumn colour display of maple, sumac and sorrel trees that make New England such an inspirational autumn destination. If this is your favourite season, you won’t want to leave.
6. Shop at the floating markets of Bangkok, Thailand
Experience that heady, sensual mix of colours, sounds, smells and flavours in Bangkok’s floating markets where every stall is a boat. No wonder Bangkok (or Krung Thep in Thai) was once known as the ‘Venice of Asia’.
7. Cruise the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Situated some 600 miles west of Ecuador, this cluster of barren volcanic Pacific Islands will forever be associated with Charles Darwin. It’s a remote and beautiful exotic archipelago, home to rare marine wildlife, giant tortoises, iguanas, penguins and sea lions.
8. Visit Niagara Falls, Canada
Niagara Falls has the fastest flow rate of any waterfall in the world and a sheer 50 metre drop. A visit is an adrenaline-filled experience, especially if you cruise under the Horseshoe, America and Bridal Veil cascades, getting close enough to feel the water mist.
9. Tour the streets of Havana, Cuba
Havana’s historic Old Quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with vibrant architecture and a flamboyance that pulsates with 1950s style, rhythm and colour. Soak it all up in an open-top classic car and feel that Latino vibe.
10. Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia
If you want to climb up this landmark, there are 1,332 steps to reach the top on a mixture of ladders and catwalks that are exposed to the elements. As a reward, you’ll get spectacular panoramic views of Sydney, its iconic Opera House and the Blue Mountains beyond.
11. Visit Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion, Japan
The three-storied golden Buddhist temple of Kinkaku-ji, to give the Golden Pavilion its proper name, is set in beautifully manicured gardens and a place of serene and scenic beauty. It’s one of the 17 Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, a World Heritage Site.
12. Explore the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru
The great Machu Picchu Mountain is accessible via a beautiful and intriguing trail that takes you through the mountainous passes of the Andes via the cloud forest, the Dead Woman’s Pass and the ruins of ancient Inca settlements. A truly epic pilgrimage.
13. Cruise along Hạ Long Bay, Vietnam
Hạ Long Bay or ‘where the dragon descends’, is a World Heritage Site and one of the world’s greatest wonders. The mystical, ethereal seascape is best appreciated from the air where you can see tiny islets and hidden coves surrounded by tropical waters and rainforest.
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