You have worked hard your whole life. Now it’s time to explore the world and enjoy yourself. To boot, research by the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS ) shows that traveling isn’t just a leisure activity, it also has many benefits.
The cognitive benefits of traveling: Getting out of your comfort zone is always a good thing, and traveling can help do that. By engulfing yourself in new experiences, your brain grows, and new neural connections form from the knowledge you obtain. Keeping your brain active and your mind open to learning is a major key to healthy (and happy) aging.
The physical benefits of traveling: Research from the GCOA and TCRS indicates that maintaining a physically active lifestyle while aging is extremely important as it’s linked to lower instances of falling and lower rates of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Over 70% of those who travel during retirement report higher levels of happiness, physical health, and life satisfaction than those who do not travel.
The social benefits of traveling: Traveling encourages both cross-cultural and intergenerational social connections. You can build connections with those you bump into along your journey, but also, you create bonds and social stimulation through sharing stories post-vacation.
Now that you have legitimate reasons to travel, here are some places you truly deserve to see:
Filled with beauty, culture, and delicious food, Barcelona is a perfect location to visit during retirement. Tour the city at your own pace and appreciate each building’s unique architecture and story. From the Sagrada Familia, to flamenco dancing, to beautiful beaches, to tapas and paella, there are many aspects of the city to enjoy.
Niagara Falls (Ontario, Canada)
igorsh via Getty Images
This spot, bordering both Canada and the United States, is one of nature’s most astonishing beauties. This spot also has a fair amount of walking available if you are willing and able. Walking isn't necessary though, and having limited mobility will not lessen your travel experience here.
San Jose, Costa Rica
This is a wonderful and budget-friendly travel spot. Enjoy clear blue water, and engulf yourself in culture as you explore the city and its neighboring areas. Journey through rain forests, beaches, volcanoes, and more while spending under $50 a night for a hotel.
Akemazing via Getty Images
This vacation spot is popular for retirees as it has accommodations for all ages. Each city has many different types of tours for all ages and mobilities, allowing New Zealand’s beauty to be easily captured. And if tours are too costly for your travel budget, self-guided drives are equally as enjoyable.
KCHL via Getty Images
Ireland's capital city is a great place to visit if you would like to immerse yourself in city life and the high energy, Irish culture. However, if you want a relaxed, scenic destination, you need not travel far. Gorgeous landscapes and scenic views can be seen all around this incredible country.
San Diego, California
rozdemir01 via Getty Images
If you're looking to stay in warm weather and travel within the United States, San Diego is the place to visit. Running along the California coast and touching the Pacific Ocean, San Diego is one of the most relaxing places you can travel to. The residents in this area exude friendliness-- probably because their lifestyles include beaches, brunch, and beautiful weather.
Enjoy culture, food, and a wonderful gondola ride as you travel through this city. While Italian culture is exuberant and fast-paced, this city is built in a way that allows you to enjoy both the loud lifestyle while simultaneously feeling relaxed and at ease. This country’s history and major landmarks make it one of the largest tourist spots in the world.
kumpolstock via Getty Images
Bangkok is a historically rich city. Most visitors spend a few days in Bangkok itself, and then travel to nearby cities to continue taking in the nature that the country provides. Thai culture places great admiration and respect on those aging. What more can one look for in a travel destination?!
Cape Town, South Africa
If you are looking for a beautiful landscape, culture, and a safari, Cape Town is for you. Along with being a historically rich city, Cape Town is also part of multi-city safari tours. These tours are designed with older adults in mind and allow for peoples with all levels of mobility to enjoy.
This country is a travel favorite amongst the older demographic thanks to its relatively uncrowded cities (in comparison to other European countries). Portugal has a slower lifestyle pace compared to Spain or Italy, for example. Also, Portugal is relatively cheaper than its neighbors. Add this to the history, architecture, beaches, and beauty that Portugal has to offer, and there is no confusion as to why the older demographic loves Portugal.
Eachat via Getty Images
Filled with traditional wooden buildings, painted neighborhoods, and completely breathtaking nature views, Norway is an easy pick for the list of dream destinations.