I’m a Travel Agent: 4 Vacations Worth the Extra Costs in Retirement (2024)

I’m a Travel Agent: 4 Vacations Worth the Extra Costs in Retirement (1)

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After putting in decades of hard work, you want to be able to enjoy yourself in retirement. For some people who can afford it, that means splurging on a nice vacation.

However, you don’t want to spend your money recklessly. If you’re going to go on expensive trips, you want to find ones that can provide a sense of wonder, excitement or relaxation that you might not find elsewhere.

With that in mind, consider the following four types of vacations that are worth the extra costs in retirement, according to William Lee, a travel agent at Chima Travel.

Themed River Cruises in Europe

Your first thought of taking a cruise might be going on a giant ocean liner, but there are more intimate options available that retirees often enjoy splurging on, such as river cruises.

“While ocean cruises are great,” Lee said, “river cruises and small ship cruises are able to offer a more personalized luxury experience. One of the biggest perks for many retirees is that the majority of the crowds on these boats are people in their age range, allowing them great opportunities to socialize and make new friends.

“Keep in mind: Some of these cruises only have 14 rooms, so there’s not many people on the cruise to begin with. The majority of river cruises only allow around 300 people on board.”

In terms of destinations for these cruises, Lee has noticed an uptick in “theme tours,” where instead of just visiting a popular port city for the sake of it, the itineraries are based on themes.

For example, some river cruise companies have leaned into theme tours such as “Tulip Time,” where Avalon Waterways takes visitors to see the beautiful tulips of the Netherlands, Lee said.

“For the romantics and the wine lovers, they have dedicated river cruises that are focused on wine,” he added. “So instead of just doing the ‘Rhine Getaway’ package on Viking, maybe you opt for the ‘Romantic Rhine for Wine Lovers’ from Avalon.”

Golf in Scotland or Spas in Finland

Golfing in Scotland and relaxing at spas in Finland are very different types of trips, but they’re grouped together here precisely for that reason.

Lee has seen many retirees want to do these types of trips, typically with husbands wanting to golf at St. Andrews in Scotland and wives wanting to enjoy spa and wellness retreats in Finland. So, rather than have one spouse go somewhere they’re not excited about, it’s becoming more common for married couples to travel separately.

“We’ve seen a big increase in couples traveling with friends,” Lee said. “Many retirees that have been married for 30+ years are looking for experiences more akin to their desires and interests. The men and women can split into two separate groups, allowing for each person to get the experience they were looking for.”

Cultural and Historical Trips to Portugal

Portugal has risen up the ranks recently to become one of the top travel destinations, particularly among retirees, Lee said.

Many spots throughout the country entice travelers looking for unique cultural or historical experiences. Plus, it’s a beautiful country.

“The Algarve region in Southern Portugal has some of the nicest beaches in Europe and, generally speaking, Portugal experiences great weather year round,” Lee said. “For the history lovers, Lisbon is packed with sites to see like the Jeronimos Monastery, Belem Tower and Castelo de San Jorge.

“Portugal is also big for retirees with empty nests. Portugal is a very romantic place to visit, from the soulful Fado dinners to the incredible Port wine of the Douro Valley. There’s a lot that Portugal has to offer, and retirees are really flocking there.”

The country also includes some important religious destinations.

“At our travel agency, we’ve seen many retirees come in and ask about Portugal because of the religious pilgrimages to Fatima,” Lee said. “The story goes that three little girls were visited by the Virgin Mary, who gave the girls visions. Since 1917, Fatima has been seen as an important location for Catholics.”

Patagonia and Amazon Expeditions in South America

Europe isn’t the only vacation spot for retirees. Many also have shown interest in more adventurous trips to South America. These can provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are worth the cost.

“The idea is that they are getting older,” Lee said, “and, if they want to experience something a bit more physically demanding, then they should do it now.”

One part of South America that retirees have been drawn to is the Amazon.

“The Amazon is incredible because it’s really unlike anything most have done before,” Lee said. “But I think there’s this idea that you ‘rough it’ with the Amazon, which is just not the case. As mentioned before, retirees are boarding small ship luxury boats and sailing the river. Periodically they stop at these beautiful resorts in the heart of the jungle where you join up with a private guide to explore the jungle safely.”

The Patagonia region is another popular part of South America.

“At our travel agency, we’ve seen recent retirees want a mix of relaxation, hiking and breathtaking views,” Lee said. “Patagonia is great for that. One of our more popular packages includes a stay at an all-inclusive resort surrounded by the mountains of Patagonia. These resorts offer a chance for rest and relaxation at the spas but are also a short distance away from some of the more popular trails in the region.”

Justifying High Costs

While many of these trips can be pricey, especially if traveling via a luxury tour operator, Lee has noticed that rising costs have made these high-end trips more justifiable in some sense.

“A typical 10-day package for Italy is around $8,500 for two people, but that’s traveling in 3- and 4-star accommodations, no transport included, and one to two group tours,” Lee said. “Instead, you can opt for a more luxury experience and stay at a mix of 4- and 5-star properties, have a private driver, and a mix of group and private tours for around $12,000.”

If you have a relatively high travel budget in retirement, it can be worth it to opt for the luxury option.

“It’s an increase, for sure, but the cheaper path doesn’t allow for you to save enough to do two of the same trips in one year if your budget is $15,000 for travel each year,” he added. “So with that said, we’ve seen more and more people opt for the experience that is going to make them less stressed, more comfortable and generally speaking is more exciting than the penny pinching for dream vacations.”

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I’m a Travel Agent: 4 Vacations Worth the Extra Costs in Retirement (2024)


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