Retired? Bored? TRAVEL! You can do it. Since retiring in 2012, I’ve taken group tours to Scotland, across Eastern Europe, Ireland, and Rome, and drove to the Vicksburg, Mississippi, Civil War Battleground National Military Park.
Group tours do all the planning. You’re in luxury motor coaches and great hotels. No worry about driving or long lines at major sites. Groups usually number 30 to 40 travelers and you meet people from across the globe.
I used AAA Travel to research the tour operators and book trips. I still exchange emails with a lady from Indonesia who now lives in Perth, Australia. We met on the Scotland trip.
My Scotland trip started in Edinburgh and ended across the country in Glasgow.
We toured palaces, saw castles, visited golf’s mecca St Andrews, a sheep farm in the highlands, a whiskey distillery (with samples!), Loch Lomond and Loch Ness (didn’t see Nessie), the Rosslyn Chapel from The Da Vinci Code, and other historic sites.
City tours give you peeks at where to go for shopping, restaurants, and sites to explore on your free time.
Tours provide breakfasts each day and some dinners, but we also had group banquets and special meals.
Sometimes fast-paced, always worth it
Yes, some multi-city tours can be hectic, packing and unpacking, and lodging in a different hotel every few days. However, tours feature single-city explorations, too, where you stay the whole time in one hotel in one major city — London, Rome, Paris, Madrid — and immerse yourself in it.
That’s how I did Rome: one hotel with tours to the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, and side trips to Pompeii and Herculaneum. I found great shopping and wonderful restaurants to sample the national cuisine on my free time.
Cruises are meant for couples or someone you’d be OK with as a roommate. When cruise ads state a price per person, it means two in a cabin.
Sailing solo means you just about pay double; few ships have single cabins. Again, a cruise can make several stops. I did one around Hawaii years ago.
We flew to Honolulu, sailed to several islands, and had free time for snorkeling, mopeds to volcanos, city tours, and eating “native.” I remember the captain proudly saying, “We’re never more than a mile from land, but sometimes, that’s straight down.” (Groaning laughter!)
Anticipate health issues in advance
As we elders often worry about health, I discovered that Medicare applies only in the U.S. and its possessions, like Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.
My supplemental policy only applies after the fact and only for emergencies. You pay when you’re away, so save all receipts and paperwork; then apply for reimbursement back home.
So check with AAA or your uncle in the travel business, get catalogues, your passport, the TSA bypass screening, and GO! If you didn’t do it when you were young, do it now.
Michael C. Jozwiak is the guest retiree columnist for this issue of Benefits Pulse. He worked with the city for 19 years before retiring in 2012 and now lives in Galveston.