Transcript: Travel adventures in retirement
Angellica: This is Rewirement, the podcast where we discuss what we should be thinking about now to live a colourful retirement.
I'm Angellica Bell, and thanks to Legal & General, we're meeting inspirational, unusual and colourful retirees to hear about their stories and advice. And whatever road you want to travel down in your later years, we'll also be chatting to experts to find out how you can take savvy financial and practical steps to make sure your plans become a reality.
Top of the bucket list for many a retiree is a little bit of travel, but lately, the pandemic has seen those plans put on hold. Looking to the future with optimism, how can you make sure you still make that trip of a lifetime? Whether you've been putting off that round the world trip in favour of work deadlines, saving your pennies to help the children or never had enough time to plan for that dream trip, retirement might seem like the perfect time.
But if you're nervous about how best to fund a trip or wondering what's changed since you last made a bit of globe trotting, plenty of people can feel unsure about how to plan a retirement adventure. Fortunately, the right way to do it is the right way for you. Whether it's a luxury hotel or youth hostel style trip, I'm going to be chatting to the experts for ideas, suggestions, and smart tips to make it the trip that you've always dreamed of.
Later on, we'll be chatting to travel journalist, Mark (Hodson) , and Claire Singleton from Legal & General for tips that are financial, practical, and guaranteed to give you itchy feet.
First up, let's hear how two different retirees have unleashed the travel bug and had the time of their lives.
June: My name is June Holder. I'm from Yorkshire, have been living down south in Hampshire for about 35 years. I'm now in Wiltshire, but only very shortly because I actually like being on the move and travelling. That is my life.
Angellica: June started her retirement with a plan to run an avocado farm in Southern Spain. She and her husband had fallen in love with the area and bought a piece of land, but sadly, tragedy struck.
June: We bought it 20 years ago now. It was a farm for avocados, and it just had one building there that had a kitchen and lounge and one bedroom. We just, by chance, came across this place, and I couldn't believe it. It was up a track, up in the mountains. From where the land was and the house, all I could see was just mountains and vegetation.
I retired when I was 63. Unfortunately, a year later, my husband died. We got the place, a place in Spain, which we'd bought about seven years before that. So we spent the first part of my retirement together, we spent in Spain, preparing the land and getting all the avocados ready, and planting a lot more different fruit trees. And then, unfortunately, my husband died in Spain.
Angellica: June returned to her family with the future she had planned now in question, but it was returning to her love of travel that helped her through grief.
June: The first thing then, a year after he died, a friend of mine, who'd also lost her husband, we both went to India, travelled round there for four months, and that really did me a lot of good. I so enjoyed getting back to backpacking around. We stayed in hostels in the south of India, in (Kerala) . It just got me going, got me going again, and feeling inspirational, and knowing that I was happy being on the move and travelling and meeting lots of people and seeing how other people in other parts of the world actually live their life, which of course is very different to what it is in the UK. And that was the start of my retirement.
I went to Italy with a friend that I worked with. Her father went there as well. And he had a Harley Davidson motorbike, which I had a passion for. I got on the back of that and we went off round Italy. It was amazing. We've kept friends ever since and that's who I go off on the motorbike with.
Angellica: A passion for bikes began many years before for June. This Harley ride around Italy reminded her of her adventures as a student, travelling through Nepal, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan on two wheels. She completed that trip seven months pregnant with her first child. So why is it still her favourite way to see the world?
June: For me, it was the people that I met and the history that I learned about the country. And when you're travelling in that style, I find that the local people accept you a lot more easily. If you wander with your backpack into a little, old village and smile, people take you into where they live and make you meet their children, their family, and you just join in. And you learn such a lot about their way of living and how they're being treated by the governments etc. And the scenery is so different.
Angellica: She decided to keep the avocado farm and now spends part of the year out there, splitting her time between Spain, the UK and wherever else her biking adventures take her, such as Romania and Holland. But Spain has a special magic for June.
June: I just love it. We know some great people. The musicians; I love live music. It puts you on a high if you get into, it could be a pub or outside, and the music is so exhilarating, you can't stop yourself jumping and jigging about to it.
Angellica: June and her biking friend also bought a narrow boat and spend some months of the year exploring the UK by water. She does the locks and he does the steering.
June: When we go out, we take different routes. We've been up to the Thames, because it's not far to go to Reading and then the Thames, to the Thames and down into London and through London. Or we go the other way to Oxford. We've gone up there, and to Wales and across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which is amazing. It's scary, but it's superb in Wales.
But you've still got to have the ambition and the ideas in your head, and then go for it. All miles in an hour, you travel. The scenery is just amazing, and then where you can moor, you can moor in allocated mooring on the side of the canal, or you can just find somewhere where there's just you there. And then we've got bikes on the boat, so we can cycle off and get shopping or whatever. It's a lovely life. Freedom, again.
Angellica: Having a friend who shares her passion for Harley's, the land and travel has meant June has a companion for her adventures, in addition to her own time spent on the farm and with family.
Since retiring, she's stayed in a tree house in Cambodia, walked the Great Wall of China and camped in the wilderness, to name a few adventures. She also recently biked around Romania.
June: We helped build (inaudible) with a horse pulling a cart, and we jumped on the back of it. And that, to me, is what travelling is about. It's about actually sharing the lives the local people lead, finding out what it's really like.
So he's my best friend that I can share going to Spain with, because he loves working on the land, and also, I love being on the boat.
The best advice; I mean, you can get different travel books. It depends on how you want to travel. Whatever way you want to travel, you can do it. It's just having the state of mind where you think, " Okay, so I'm 70, but I'm going to do it. I can do it."
And if you like to travel and see how the real community lives, then the best way really, I think, that I've found out, is to actually fly to the country and then travel on public transport. And you can get Lonely Planet and books where they'll give you advice about places you can stay.
I mean, if you think of somewhere like Cambodia, where we went, we stayed in hostels there. You had separate rooms. It was only about 12, 15 pounds at the most (inaudible) , and you've got the facilities to use. And the people are so friendly. Obviously it's mostly young people, but they don't treat you like old people. They just talk to you in the same way.
In India, you can stay in homestays. It's people's houses. There's maybe an outdoor stair at the side of the house and you've got your own lovely bedroom. And you're meeting the people who live there, and it's interesting to find out what their life is.
So you can do it. You just make up your mind and you just go for it. Find out what you can, and that's it. It's easy. It really is.
Angellica: June's a born backpacker and a lifelong traveller who doesn't mind working it out as she goes along. Meanwhile, Elizabeth took her time and found a savvy way to see lots of places in one trip through cruises.
Elizabeth had a career as a science teacher before she retired and started working at a hospice. With three children, she and her husband hadn't done much in the way of adventurous travel for years. In fact, it was after she had recovered from breast cancer that her retirement travel adventures began in earnest. I asked her what her goals were when she retired.
Elizabeth: I wanted to help people who were in difficulty in some way. So I thought, well, probably the easiest place to go to is the place where I taught when it was a special school, called Dorothy House Hospice, which is about three miles from where I used to live in Bradford- on- Avon.
So I became what they call a host. And basically, it was people who were in their last year of life and they would stay with a nurse there permanently, 24/7, you know, obviously changing shifts, and doctors there. They would come for a week to give their family respite. I would feed them or take them for walks in their wheelchair. There was one lady who was really into all this photography. Not that I could really help her with that, but she was showing me that. And it was just a very happy place to be actually.
Angellica: When did you leave the hospice?
Elizabeth: I left there just when we moved, because it was about 30 miles to our new house. And it was during that time that I was diagnosed with cancer. So I couldn't really do much because I was in hospital and having chemotherapy and really feeling a bit exhausted.
Angellica: How did the cancer change your outlook on life?
Elizabeth: I think it made me probably want to do more. Some people think, " Oh, I've got cancer. I better not go here in case I'm ill. I better not go there in case I'm ill."
One big problem is actually getting insurance. I flew to Las Vegas to attend a charity conference with my son and husband, and it was very difficult to get insurance because I'd just finished having my chemotherapy. I got it, but they ... And of course, being in America, you know, huge amount of money. And that could be a little bit of a brick wall for some people, to suddenly realize that they've got to pay this huge insurance.
In the end, I didn't have to pay that much, but obviously, I wanted to be insured. My oncologist said to me, " Look, before you go, please make sure that you insure yourself well in America."
So yes, it hasn't really stopped me. I mean, it was a big shock.
Angellica: Tell me about your travels then, and this new part of your life.
Elizabeth: We had half term, it was about two years before I retired, and we wanted to go away. We left it till September and I thought, " I'd like a week away." This is 10, 11 years ago, perhaps even 12 years ago. And the internet wasn't such a thing then. A lot of people went to travel agents.
So we just went to the local town, went in to see the travel agent and said, "I don't suppose you've got anything available for October half term." Of course, they're always really busy. So she said, " The only thing we've got available is a cruise."
So we looked at each other and said, " Oh, don't think so. Cruises are for old people. Oh, I don't think we can do that." " No," she said. " They're not." She said, " Honestly, we have quite a lot of younger people going on them. Why don't you try it?" So we said, " Okay."
We went on this fairly short cruise, but we went to about seven different countries. I know one of them was Sardinia, and then we went to Sicily, Palma, to Italy, into Rome for the day, Minorca, Monaco. We just loved it, you know? But then we went on an American ship around all the islands in the Caribbean. We've been to the Canary Isles, Mexico, Norway.
We went on the fjords, and that sort of gave us the inclination to perhaps go somewhere colder, because it was quite cold in Norway. We decided, we got off the plane and we thought, " We're not going to take a taxi. We'll just walk to the hotel." It didn't look very far. So there we were with our cases, wheeling them along through the snow. Can you imagine?
Angellica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Elizabeth: And we'd been to America as well, like Florida and New York, San Francisco. We were going on all these rollercoaster and everything. We were like the oldest people on them. And we managed to get the front seat, which was ... And our kids were sort of a bit embarrassed.
When we went to Norway, we loved it. We thought, "Oh, this is really nice. We sort of quite like it cold." So then we went to Svalbard in the Arctic, thought, " Oh, we'll just do a bit of snowmobiling." And again, we were the oldest people there. Youngsters, you know? But they made us very welcome. We did sort of fall off the snowmobiles. It just crashed to the ground and turned over.
Angellica: Elizabeth, you are such an adventurer.
Elizabeth: I haven't seen the Northern lights. I really want to see the Northern lights.
Angellica: Go. Make sure you do it. After this is over, go and see it, because it's so magical. I think you would be speechless, so do it.
Elizabeth, for anybody who is thinking of retiring and wants to travel, what advice would you give them?
Elizabeth: When you retire, most people are not that restricted. So take the opportunity if it's available. Obviously look into it. I mean, I guess you have to be careful that it's not some sort of scam. You need to watch that. See if you can get a deal. If you can, probably try to get an all- in break. We had the flights plus the hotel for a certain amount of money. When we went to Las Vegas, we just booked separate flights. We booked a hotel and then we booked things all separately. But I think if you have a small amount of savings and you put towards, say, a holiday fund, use it when you have the opportunity to go somewhere that you really want to go.
Angellica: Elizabeth's curiosity about the world really shines through when she talks about her adventures. You can tell she was a teacher and has that hunger to learn more.
Another thing I love is that she and her husband are often the oldest people in their travel groups, and cruises have allowed them to see so much of the world in a way they enjoy.
Travelling in retirement is so individual. Whether you've been a backpacker, a luxury lounger or a bit of both in your earlier adventures, working out a way to do it that gives you confidence later in life is key.
I'm joined now by two experts, travel journalist, Mark Hodson, and Legal & General's Claire Singleton. Thank you so much both for joining me.
So Mark, why is travelling a completely different consideration in later life?
Mark: Well, I think what you have a lot of when you retire, well, apart from money, we hope, is time, but things are a little bit different to where you were travelling when you were younger and a little bit different to when you were just going on holidays when you were working. So you have different demands, but maybe you have different opportunities as well. You can certainly do longer trips.
I think one of the interesting things about this generation that's now retiring, this is the first generation that went backpacking around the world. So many of them will have wonderful memories of when they were younger, when they were in their twenties and so forth, of travelling, backpacking, being kind of free, having lots of time, wandering around from one place to another. And a lot of people want to recreate a feeling of that, perhaps go to back to some of the same places, but perhaps to travel in much the same kind of way.
In some ways, that's become a lot easier now, because you can plan everything online. There are so many more low cost airline networks around the world that allow you to get from one place to another without overnight bus journeys and so forth. But one of the key things to think about when you're retiring is that you're not the same person that you were in your twenties, much as you might like to think you are. We've all got a 25 year old inside, haven't we? But actually, your physical resilience, your ability to cope with jet lag, a bad night's sleep, rough journeys, and so forth, may have changed. So you have to adapt as well. And maybe that means slowing down, maybe spending a bit more time in places rather than rushing around like you did when you were 25.
So it's a good idea to think realistically about what you really want to do with the rest of your life, what kind of places you want to visit and what kind of things you want to do and how you want to do them. And it's a really good time to start now thinking about that.
Angellica: So Claire, what if budget is a problem? Say you're retired and have no additional income to bump up savings, but you still want to do that bucket list thing, like travel the Pacific Coast Highway in a Mustang. What can you do?
Claire: So there's various things people can consider, depending on their situation. Some people, we see them downsizing from their properties. So they decide that they don't need the size of home they have anymore, and actually, they'd like to have some extra money to go and do that travel plan.
The other thing people can think about is releasing equity for their home, and there's various different options and considerations around that. So people can choose to release money, but also then consider whether they would like to leave an inheritance or not. So that's one factor people need to think about. So would they like to leave an inheritance to their kids? And if so, they can protect a part of that inheritance within the house and release cash to go and do some of their travel plans.
People could take (inaudible) of money and pay the interest on that too, to stop increasing their debt quite so much.
So it's one thing for people to think about, alongside the potential option of, say, downsizing from their home.
Angellica: I mean, for some people, that sort of information can be quite overwhelming, especially if you've been in your home your whole life and all these sorts of things. So it might be a necessity that they need to do in order to fulfil those dreams, but do you give proper advice and are there places that people can go so they can feel secure, especially when talking about money?
Claire: Look, if you're ever releasing money from your house, it's an advised process and they can come to Legal & General for that advice. There's also lots of information available on our website in terms of the pros and cons of releasing money from your home. So where we talk about the costs of borrowing and also the fact that there's a no negative equity guarantee where you'll never have to pay back more than what your property is sold for. And we also talk about some of those protections I mentioned around protecting part of the equity so that you can leave an inheritance.
So really important to take good advice, really important to consider the costs of borrowing, and really important to read up and understand that.
Angellica: So again, think ahead.
But Mark, Elizabeth mentioned in her case study that our changing bodies can also mean that insurance can be quite a different experience. How can we deal with that?
Mark: Travel insurance is one of the non- negotiables about getting around the world when you're a little bit older. You, perhaps when you were younger, might have thought that, " Well, we don't really need it for this little city break," or, " I'll be fine. Everything was fine last time." But you really need to have travel insurance. It's going to give you a lot of protection against if something goes wrong medically, but also just all the little bumps that happen along the road; if flights get cancelled. Particularly when you do more adventurous travel, things turn up.
I did a trip to Indonesia a couple of years ago and were planning to go to Lombok, and then a huge volcano erupted a couple of weeks before. Fortunately, I was with a tour operator and they managed to re-plan the whole trip and we went to another island instead, but that's the point where insurance might really kick in.
Now, as you get older, insurance does become more expensive. So you need to make sure you've got the best insurance you can get and that it is appropriate for your age, and that you look at pre-existing medical conditions, which can put up the price of premiums. But that really becomes something you have to budget for. Perhaps you didn't think about it before, because it was relatively cheap. Now it's going to be a relatively expensive part of your travel budget.
Angellica: Yeah, so there are events that you cannot control, which will affect what happens with your holiday, and that means you have to protect your money.
So going back to you, Claire, everyone has a different plan for retirement. So what sort of things do people spend their money on? Presumably travel is high up on the list.
Claire: Yeah, that's right, Angellica. So we did a survey recently and talk about people's life goals in retirement, and travel comes up as number one. And alongside that, people often have some lifelong dreams for travel, so things like they'd like to visit Australia, or they'd like to drive Route 66 in America. So we see those in the top five things that people say they want to do in retirement.
The other thing that we're seeing more of is people using things like their tax free lump sum from their pension pot to invest in things that afford them to travel. So investing in things like motor homes, or I think in one of the case studies, someone had bought a narrow boat. So we really see people being able to use that lump of cash in a way that gives them freedom to travel in a way that suits them.
Angellica: So Mark, from your perspective, how would you advise people to approach their planning to go for this big dream, something they've been building up for, for most of their lives sometimes?
Mark: I would suggest that people take a long- term view of travel in retirement, because you are retired hopefully for quite a long time, and you might have a list of things you'd like to do, a bucket list. I think you should think about the order in which you do those things. If you think you've got a budget, you've got a financial budget and you've got a time budget, but also you've got a budget in terms of your ability to cope with things from a physical point of view. Your comfort zone, if you like.
So for example, you'd love to go on a cruise around the Mediterranean, see a bit of Italy and Greece and relax, and so forth. You hit 65 and you think, " Let's go and do that." Actually, it might be a smart idea to hold off on that, because that's a relatively easy thing you could do in your eighties, say, but if you also want to go trekking in Peru, or you want to go around New Zealand in a motor home, that might be a good thing to do at 65. So planning, doing it by stage.
And then we were talking about travel insurance, but, say, if you want to go to North America, for example, travel insurance becomes a lot more expensive there as you get older, a lot more, because of the medical costs in America. So if you do want to do a big road trip in America, I would suggest you do that early on in your retirement when insurance is going to be relatively cheap.
Also long haul. So long hauls can be quite gruelling on the body. So that might be something you do early on in your retirement. And then as you get older, you come back towards the short haul trips; the cruises in the Baltic and the classic river cruises in Europe, for example.
And another point I would just make about bucket lists. A lot of people have bucket lists. Now, I would suggest that you really think about what you want to put on your list, what's right for you, rather than go and see what other people have put on their lists. Do you really want to do that? Is that really what you want to do? I'm not saying don't do it, but maybe there's some other things that are right for you, that fit in with your passion. So have a real think about that and spend some time. You've got a lot of time to think about it. So really come up with your own list rather than someone else's.
Angellica: Yeah, because it's your time to do what you want. Day to day, you sometimes go along with things.
Even though there's lots of planning and lots of considerations, it is still a very exciting time, isn't it, for people?
Mark: It's incredibly exciting, isn't it? I think that we've all sort of experienced over the last year the frustration of not being able to travel and how much we're looking forward to getting out there and exploring the world again. I know, myself, I just can't wait to get out there. But how much more that will be at the end of a working life, when now you look at all of these years, when you've got the whole world to explore and to experience. It's an incredibly exciting time.
Angellica: Hopefully those fantastic stories and tips have inspired you to plan that bucket list adventure and start researching the kind of travel that's going to suit you in retirement.
You can find more great resources and more about retirement planning on the website, which is legalandgeneral.com/retirement.
And remember, there's no better time to start the transition to a healthy mental balance, and bank balance, to fulfil your dream retirement lifestyle. So go on. Start planning your best life now.
Next time, I'm going to explore how a healthy body and mind can go hand in hand for a happy retirement.
Speaker 6: So I had a structure where I had fixed points on certain days that I always did certain things, but then I maybe had another day when I was completely free to do anything or another afternoon when I was free to do anything. So it's the combination of the two.
Angellica: I'm Angellica Bell. Follow Rewirement on your favourite platform, and I'll catch you next time.
Whether you’ve been putting off that round the world trip in favour of work deadlines, saving your pennies to help the kids out, or just never had enough time to plan for that dream trip – retirement might seem like the perfect time to travel.
In episode three of our new podcast series, Angellica meets two energetic retirees who are exploring the world by plane, train – and on the back of a Harley Davidson.
Elizabeth has braved the freezing temperatures of the Arctic and basked in the warm temperatures of the Mediterranean on her travels. She shares stories of snorkelling, snowmobiles and the next big trip she has planned.
Next we meet June, who has been truly bitten by the travel bug. She takes us on a globetrotting tour with her travel stories, from the minute she picked up her backpack and set off to India for four months to her latest adventures up the Thames on a narrowboat.
Angellica also chats to travel journalist Mark Hodson, Editor and Co-founder of 101 Holidays, and Legal & General’s Claire Singleton, to gain their insight into how best to plan your travel adventures in later life.
CEO of Home Finance at Legal & General
Claire has a keen interest in helping people make the most of their retirement by accessing their property wealth, ensuring customers get the right outcome for them and can enjoy a more colourful retirement.
Group Editor & Co-founder of 101 Holidays
Mark Hodson is an award-winning travel writer. Mark co-founded 101 Holidays, a website packed with expert advice designed to inspire and inform those with wanderlust.