4 places you should travel to once you retire

Whether your retirement date is marked on your calendar or you’re just starting that next chapter in your life, the trip has probably crossed your mind. But how do you choose the perfect destination? There are a lot of things to consider: cost, activities, language, transportation… the list goes on and on.

So we came up with retirement awaits Facebook group for some pro tips. We asked: What would you advise others to take once they retire? I answered! Here are some ideas for the best places to travel when it’s time for your retirement.

Mount Vesuvius looms over Naples, Italy

1. Italy

“Italy really has it all, a lot of history, beauty, amazing people, amazing people food! I had the best pizza of my life in Naples because it is the birthplace of this wonderful cook. The pasta was also great, especially in Rome. So foodies and history buffs will really enjoy this country.”

After her retirement, Janet Sorrillo toured Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, including the island of Capri. “Cruising around the Amalfi Coast and the island of Capri was probably my favorite activity. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve seen so far, it even beat Hawaii – in my opinion, of course. The bus ride through the cliffs was a little scary but it was worth it!”

Sorrillo toured what remains of the ancient city of Pompeii and what it destroyed, Mount Vesuvius. She took a boat trip in the Mediterranean – which she says is “the blue blue” – and saw the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain in Rome.

“In order to see as much as possible, walking will be required, so comfortable shoes are a must. I visited in early fall to avoid the summer heat which can be very warm in the summer months. It’s a great place to soak up Italian culture. Oh, and did I mention the food” ?”

Since she was traveling from St. Louis, she said getting a direct flight to Naples wasn’t possible, but she suggests going through Rome, which is easily accessible from most major cities in the US

Carvoeiro in the Algarve region of Portugal
Carvoeiro in the Algarve region of Portugal
(DaLiu / Shutterstock.com)

2. Portugal

Tim Frank lived in Tavira in the Portuguese Algarve for 3 months from April to June. He says that while it’s sometimes hot, the weather is great, perfect for Blue Flag beaches – an award that means they are among the best in the world.

“I was on the beach every day! Fresh seafood available, especially oysters just picked that morning…Delicious! I enjoyed the local festivals which seemed so plentiful. The architecture (Moroccan influence) was great. Loved listening to fado music.” Had some of the best sangria ever in Tavira. Great entertainment at the local bars.”

Frank says getting around is easy with fast, efficient, and affordable transportation. Take trains to Faro, Lisbon, Porto and other stations in the Algarve. English is widely spoken, but he says it’s helpful to learn some Portuguese, especially if you need to use municipal services or other services like the Internet. Frank says the grocery stores are well stocked and the people are friendly.

His professional advice: “Don’t get big denominations of euros. Try to stay away from any bills over 20 euros. Get used to using ATMs to get cash. It’s all over.”

If you’re looking for some relaxation on your first trip in retirement, Frank says he’s found Portugal relaxed and slow-paced. “Many shops close from lunchtime to mid-afternoon for a nap. Restaurants generally don’t start serving dinner until 7pm, so plan accordingly. Enjoy fresh seafood! Night entertainment especially if you can enjoy a fado performance. Participate in festivals Live like the locals. Enjoy the beaches. Ride the trains!”

A main street in Galway, Ireland
Galway, Ireland
(Mica Stock / Shutterstock.com)

3. Ireland

Frank also spent a month in Dublin, Ireland, and another month in a small village about 70 kilometers (43 miles) away called Moynalty.

His favorite part about the country was meeting people. “Plan to make friends! Strangers are strangers only until you meet them. Give yourself time to explore Dublin but also make sure to get out of Dublin and explore the countryside. I highly recommend Galway and Dingle. Take a tour with a local company. I went on one 7 day trip and explored the Irish countryside. it was amazing! Enjoy bars and entertainment! Enjoy a real Irish dance performance.”

While Dublin is easy to walk, Frank advises using a car in Ireland, but warns that the roads can be narrow. He also says Ireland could be more expensive.

With so much to see and do, Frank says he’s never bored. “In Moynalti, I’ve had perfect strangers who invite me over to their homes for dinner and family get-togethers. The food everywhere was great (I love lamb). He even developed a taste for black pudding. Drink some Irish whiskey and beer (in moderation of course)! Visited Galway and Dingle. Loved Both. The Irish dance shows were great. It saw the twentieth anniversary of Riverdance and two Broadway plays.”

Never heard of black candy? It is a staple of English breakfast, originating in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is a type of sausage made from blood and a type of grain, usually oatmeal. It’s a “love it or hate it” kind of food, but like Frank, you won’t know if you don’t try it!

Mendenhall Glacier taken from a boat bound for Juneau, Alaska
Mendenhall Glacier taken from a boat bound for Juneau, Alaska
(Image source: Linda Scott)

4. Alaska

If you’re looking to stay in the US, Linda Scott says take a trip to Alaska. It’s been six times and she says she hasn’t seen it all yet. “I recommend Alaska for its beautiful mountain ranges and glaciers, beautiful lakes and rivers, waterfalls, wildlife, diverse landscapes, bustling big cities, charming small towns, national parks, old mining towns, pristine nature, and rich history at the last frontier.”

Scott’s first trip to Alaska with her husband was a 7-day cruise on the Inland Passage. Ports of call included Seward, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Sitka. I liked this option because passengers can explore the port cities and take excursions on the beach.

If you have more time, such as several weeks or more, she suggests renting a car or mobile home. Or if you’re as brave as them, drive your own RV on the Alaska Highway. Scott and her husband’s next five trips were RV ambassadors for the RV Tours company. The starting point was Dawson Creek, British Columbia, which is the start of the Alaska Highway.

Then they made their way through the beauty and history of the Yukon. City tours included Chicken, AK (first entry point), Tuck, Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, Homer, Seward, Palmer, Valdez, Haines, Skagway, and Juno. After Haines, they begin their way back down through the Yukon and West BC, ending their journey in Prince George.

Scott’s favorite activity? “For me, being a tourist. Taking it all, photographing stunning landscapes. For those who love to fish, there are many fishing charters at Homer, Seward and Valdez. Take a helicopter trip to see Denali up close and personal, glaciers or bears.” There is so much to see and do in Alaska!”

Pro tip: Scott says pick up a copy of Mailpost. It’s the bestselling travel guide to Alaska. “It’s a MUST! It has everything, and I mean everything in it. We did a 48 day tour to Alaska and there was so much to see and do. Lots of optional tours for our guests to do too.”

These are some of the most popular comments we got in our post. We’d love for you to join our group, Retirement Waiting, and share some pro tips too! It’s a private group where we can share retirement together. You can engage with others, ask and answer questions about your retirement experience and talk about the things you want to know.

We can say one thing for sure, and it’s a common theme in all of your Facebook comments: Relax and have fun, you’ve earned it!

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